What are the benefits of having a water butt installed and how much money will it knock off an annual water bill?
If every household in England collected one water butt’s worth of water a year it would collectively save four billion litres of fresh water every year
Rebecca Goodman, of This is Money, replies: We’ve been experiencing an exceptionally hot summer this year and the heatwave is the longest for 42 years.
A number of water providers have asked people to try and use less water, and at the moment Northern Ireland Water is the only one to put a hose pipe ban in place, which began on June 29th.
There are a number of ways you can use less water in your home, and one of these is by installing a water butt.
Not only will this reduce the amount of water you’re using, as you have a water meter and pay for the water you use this should also cut down your bills.
Water butts collect excess rainwater and store it to use for watering your garden. They are usually connected to a down pipe and water is kept within the butt for whenever you need it – which can be especially handy during periods of excessive heat and when there are hose pipe bans in place.
The average house roof in the UK collects enough rain water in a year to fill about 450 water butts, according to the Consumer Council for Water.
There is a wide range of water butts on the market in different shapes and sizes and prices start from around £25 for a basic model holding 100 litres of water and go up to around £200 for models holding 500 litres or more.
We asked Tim Robertson, chief executive officer of Save Water Save Money, exactly how much you could be looking to save.
Mr Robertson replies: ‘A hose pipe or sprinkler can use up to 1,000 litres of water an hour, and can be a huge drain on both water resource and your bill.
‘A simple but effective way to save water and money is to install a water butt, which will collect rainwater ready for use in the garden.
‘They’re easy to attach to your house, shed, garage or any other garden building that has a gutter and a down pipe, and can hold between 100 and 700 litres of water. Water butts come in various shapes and sizes so while most are barrel shaped, you can get streamlined ones to fit in smaller spaces.
‘If every household in England collected just one water butt’s worth of water a year, (160 litres), it would collectively save four billion litres of fresh water every year.’
A hose pipe or sprinkler can use up to 1,000 litres of water an hour and costs around £1.50
Rebecca Goodman adds: Watering your garden with a hose pipe or a sprinkler costs on average around £1.50 per hour, which can really add up if you’re doing it everyday.
The exact costs will depend on your water provider, the type of hose or sprinkler and how often you’re using it.
Using a watering can costs an equivalent of 50p per hour and if you’re using water stored from your water butt this won’t cost you anything. However, this will only be a benefit if you have enough water stored up.
Another option, and one which Rachel Fletcher, chief executive of Ofwat, suggested last week was to use recycled bath and washing up water on the garden.
Using recycled water – either from a water butt, or leftover bath water – can also be a benefit for your garden.
According to the Royal Horticultural Society, tap water will meet the needs of most garden plants. However, with ericaceous (acid-loving) plants, if you’re using a lot of hard water over time they may start showing signs of chlorosis (yellowing of the leaves). It recommends keeping the usage of tap water to a short spell over the summer months.
Rain water can be preferable, where possible.
Watering your garden in the early morning or in the evening will also help reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation and using mulch coverings on your beds and borders such as wood chips, bark, and gravel will prevent evaporation which means you’ll need to use less water.
We also approached an expert to see if having a water butt installed could affect your property’s value at all.
James Ginley, technical director at Legal & General Surveying Services, replies: ‘The use of water saving is a growing issue in house building and greywater (water that is not sewerage but from showers, baths or sinks, for example) is increasingly being employed to provide water for other domestic activities such as the flushing of toilets.
‘We would not expect the installation of a water butt to materially impact property value, however homeowners should be aware of the issues that can accompany this kind of action.
‘For example, in extreme winter when the water in these butts freezes, it may block drainage pipes and consequently guttering and cause flooding. Equally older properties often rely on a certain level of water in the surrounding ground to avoid structural movement. The removal or change in the water level can cause this.’
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