Friday, 15 August 2014

I like big butts and I cannot lie!

First of all an apology to all of those who came here looking for something saucy. Today's musings are about water butts.

which butt are you here for?
What are they?
A water butt is a container that connects to your drainage downpipe (from the roof of your house/building) and collects the rainwater.

Why would I want one?
Because for a cheap initial outlay, over the course of its lifetime, a water butt will save you loads on your water bill costs.

How do they work?
A water butt comes with plenty of parts, the things to look out for in your kit are the following:
  • the drum (it would be a pretty useless kit without anything to hold the water)
  • the stand (not necessary, but it lets the drum sit higher off the ground, allowing you to use the tap to take water out of the drum - you can frugally make a stand out of bricks or any other durable material)
  • the tap - this lets you take water out of the drum into watering cans or buckets)
  • the diverter - this is a simple hose that connects your downpipe to the drum
  • water butt link kit (not necessary, unless you want to connect multiple drums to act as a giant storage unit)
As it rains, the roof of your building acts as a giant collector and all the rain that it collects, come down through your downpipes and collect into the water butt. Once it is full, any excess rainwater, continues to drain as normal.

But I hear you scream, "tap water is dirt cheap! How frugal can you get?"

Hold your horses. I pay 97p for a cubic meter of water from severn trent on my current tariff. That sounds cheap. 1000 litres of water for 97p ~= £0.001p a litre (rounded for easier calculations). Still cheap. Flushing the toilet uses 15 litres of water, and costs 1.5p, flushing twice a day for a whole year costs costs £11 a year. For a family of 5 - that's £55 a year of good clean water, flushed down the toilet per year - which has a high energy requirement to produce and pump around the country, so it is not only wasteful of precious water, but also burns precious fossil fuels to produce. 

That was the napkin calculation for a 15 litre toilet flush. Shall I get started with that lazy soak in the bath that uses 120 litres of water, or the 300 litre car wash or the watering can fiesta some of us have in our gardens during summer? ... I will spare you the details. But let it be known that I do believe with all my heart and soul, that we are a wasteful society and it is in our nature to spend the resources that we have in abundance. Not for once thinking about the bruises and scars we are leaving behind on the surface of the earth, in our mindless exploitation of it.

For all intents and purposes, we can use tap water for pretty much anything and everything, but do we need to? For drinking and hygiene - yes (although it is perfectly safe to boil water to clean it to drink). But watering a garden patch, flushing the loo or washing a car does not need clean, expensive tap water, with fluoride added to it, does it? 

And in those situation why would you use expensive water? For £20~50 you can get water butts of all sizes and shapes. Not only is it good for the environment (and generally speaking, this is one situation where the bigger the butt, the better it is for the environment) as it saves water and energy, it is good for your finances. depending on your water usage, a water butt will pay for itself within the year. So what are you waiting for, get your butt to the store and get a water butt!

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