In past summers, we’ve found ourselves spending a lot on water (we have a fairly large vegetable garden).
In 2008, to reduce water bills and stress on Oak Park storm sewers, we put in rain barrels we bought from Green Home Experts.
We found that the barrels helped us reduce our water bill significantly. The only complaint we had about this system was that we had to religiously use the water on our garden before the next rain (or the barrels would overflow right next to the house). In addition, the screens on top would sometimes tear under the weight of leaves and other hard objects that flow through the downspouts (but they're cheap to replace).
When one of our barrels cracked this year as I drained it of residual water, I emailed the store and was told the barrel was still under warranty.
The design of these new barrels has been improved with a reinforced drainage system on the top to eliminate the problems we’ve had with torn screens.
Rain barrels are not as convenient as simply letting the water flow down the roof and into the sewer system, but you’d be amazed how much water a roof can collect during a relatively heavy summer rain. During such rains, we usually collected about over 200 gallons of water, and that’s 200 gallons of additional water for our garden that we didn’t pay for and that our sewerage system didn’t have to carry away.
Have you tried rain barrels yet, or are you considering installing them on your house. If so, we'd like to hear about your experiences and concerns?