Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Monday, June 21, 2010

Conserve Energy: Act Like a Rain Barrel

I've been singing an old children's rhyme lately.  I looked online, and found many different versions.  This one is close to what I remember:
"Playmate come out and play with me
And bring your dollies three,
Climb up my apple tree,
Shout down my rain barrel,
Slide down my cellar door,
and we'll be jolly friends forever more"

We went to a workshop last weekend to learn how to set up a rain barrel.  The basic idea is to collect rainwater that falls onto your roof, then use it for watering plants, washing your car, etc. My husband is outside right now, rerouting our downspout into a barrel instead of into the sewer.  We got two 55 gallon drums, which we will connect together with a hose, so when the first is full, the extra water will go into the second one.  We expect to collect enough water in the barrels to keep my new gardens happy. 

Next time it rains, look outside at all the water running down your driveway.  Think about how much is landing on your roof, and being routed into the sewer.  Now think about three days later, your plants are looking dry, and you go outside to water them.  Wouldn't it be nice to use some of that excess rain that fell?  According to the literature they gave us at the workshop, benefits of  using a rain barrel to collect rainwater include: conserving water, preventing erosion and flooding, improving storm water and ground quality, and saving money on water bills. The Rain Barrel Guide has lots of info about setting up and using a rain barrel.  

The philosophy behind using rain barrels relates well to coping.  Many of us live with fatigue, which limits how much we can do in a day/week/etc.  We can't just hop in the car and go, go, go.  Like a rain barrel, conserve your resources (eg- energy), plan ahead and reroute energy to where/when it is most needed.  When you have extra energy, don't erode yourself by trying to do too much.   When I need to water my plants, I can use the water in the rain barrels, or if they are empty, I can use the water the city supplies us.  With energy, we don't have that option.  Once our energy barrel is empty, it is empty until it 'rains' again.  (Like our energy, that can be unpredictable.)  Don't waste what it you have. Save it for a sunny day.  Get plenty of rest and do what you need to do to maximize your energy.  If you have something you want to do in the evening, plan your day with enough down time that there will be energy left in your barrel. 
I like this 'rainbarrel theory of energy conservation'.  Over the next few weeks, I am going to try to develop it further.  I am open to any and all input.  Send me your ideas.

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