Slowly but surely, over almost thirty years now, the UK population has slowly become more environmentally focused. From the beginnings of recycling starting to gain popularity in the late 1980s, more and more awareness has grown about the finite resources we rely on, and there’s been a huge collective effort to behave in a more responsible and sustainable manner. Part of that is insulating our homes, fitting double glazing and investing in more efficient heating systems. The country has come a long way, but there’s so much further to go. Of course, the environment isn’t the only benefit – most improvements also save us money too.
While some people are familiar with water butts, usually those that already have them in their gardens, they’re still relatively rare compared to other green measures we can take around our homes. They’re great because they collect rain water, usually from rooftops of homes, greenhouses and other outbuildings, by tapping into existing guttering routes. Rather than letting the water soak away into the ground, it can be collected and used for other tasks like watering plants, and even washing the car!
Butts (sometimes also referred to as rain barrels) come in many different sizes, and are long term solutions to store rain water until it’s needed.
Water Butt FAQs
How does a water butt work?
The cylinders that store the water are very simple vessels, they’re usually made from strong plastic and often have a tap at the bottom to dispense the water. Water enters the tank via something called a diverter (more on that in a moment), which simply connects the butt to your guttering system, usually via a down-pipe.
How much does a water barrel cost?
In the past, some water companies have offered free water butts, but they’re now far less common. Fortunately they’re not too expensive to buy, and you can get them delivered quickly, along with a diverter kit.
How does a rainwater diverter work?
The diverters are inserted into the down pipe of your existing guttering. It’s a very simple idea, that you intercept the water flowing down through the guttering and re-route it into the butt, rather than letting it flow away down into the ground or down the drain into the sewer.
How do you install a water diverter?
The installation will usually involve cutting a small piece from your downpipe to position the diverter in the gap. It’s often easier to see an example, so here’s a video from B&Q to explain things in detail:
Does rain barrel water go bad?
Water doesn’t go bad in and of itself, but over time, bacteria will start to gather in the butt carried in with the rain water. That can cause a smell eventually to start to build up if you take the lid off the butt. You can buy solutions to combat the bacteria, much like you would do to put down sink plug holes when smells start to happen.
Is rain water safe to drink?
For the same reasons as we just mentioned, you certainly don’t want to be drinking water out of a water butt, especially after it’s been in place for a while. Rain water itself was once considered safe to drink, but these days you’re more likely to see that questioned with city pollution issues growing around the world. There are purification tablets that you can buy, but it’s probably something you only want to be turning to in emergency situations.