Are water butts worth it? How to conserve water

Discover the benefits of using water butts and how they can help to reduce water usage.

4th June 2024

Our ‘Tails’ of UK Wildlife campaign aims to highlight the small steps you can take to make a big difference on the path towards a nature-friendly future. 

Since it’s estimated the average household uses between 350 and 500 litres of water every day (equal to approximately 25–35 standard buckets!), we’re focusing on our water usage. It’s time to consider the ways we can preserve water, for the benefit of nature, wildlife, and ourselves. Thankfully, there are some simple swaps we can make today that’ll pave the way for a healthier, happier tomorrow by nurturing natural resources.   

In this article, we’re going to explore the wonderful world of water butts! Read on, to discover exactly what a water butt is, the benefits of using a water butt, and how best to use one…

What is a water butt?

A water butt is a large water container that collects rainwater. The tap attached to a water butt makes it easy for you to use that rainwater in your garden or outside space.  

Most standard water butts hold around 200 litres of water, too – which saves using considerable amounts of tap water when watering your garden and/or potted plants! 

What are the benefits of using a water butt?

There are so many benefits to using a water butt that we couldn’t possibly fit them all into this article! Which is why we’re focusing on what we consider to be the top three reasons to use a water butt…

It can save you money

Perhaps the biggest benefit of using a water butt is the money it can save you; especially if you’re on a water meter. It’s estimated that outdoor water use counts for around 7% of average household water usage – which ramps up to 50% in hot weather! 

By using the rainwater collected in a water butt to water plants and refill bird baths, you’re reducing waste without adding to your water bill. 

It supports biodiversity

Reducing your overall water usage is a fantastic way to support biodiversity, because you’re lessening the strain on local water sources. The amount of energy needed to treat and pump water to UK households could be lowered if more water butts were used, reducing your household carbon footprint, too. 

Also, due to rainwater being soft (i.e. free from salts and chemicals found in tap water), it’s perfect for plants! Plus, the organic matter within rainwater is known to act as a gentle form of fertiliser for some plants – helping them grow healthier than if they were given tap water. 

It’s an easy way to help the environment

If you opt for a standard water butt, they’re usually easy to install and tend to take just a short time to set up. The majority of water butts are sold with a full set of instructions as well, meaning you don’t have to be a DIY genius to get them up-and-running!

Water butts are available in a range of different sizes, too. So, no-matter the size of your outside space, you’re likely to find a water butt to fit. 

Handy hints for choosing the right water butt

Here are a few handy hints to help you choose the right water butt:

  • For balconies and small gardens, you’ll probably want to choose a mini or slimline water butt that can attach directly to a drainpipe, instead of taking up ground space.
  • For medium-sized gardens, a standard water butt made from recycled plastic that sits on a sturdy stand should be ideal. 
  • For bigger gardens with plenty of space, you could opt for a large, freestanding tank that catches rainwater from a downpipe, but also doubles as a little pond.
  • For a water butt that resonates with your unique style, you can find decorative water butts with planters on top, or modern water butts that transform into impressive water features!  

Top tip: Depending on the design of your chosen water butt, it’s recommended that you keep a lid on it to protect wildlife from falling in.

To uncover even more ways you can nurture nature in your neighbourhood, visit our articles on how to provide water for wildlife and getting involved in wildlife recording projects!

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