Monday, 11 January 2010

More water than your butt can hold?

Well it was officially a very wet November and December continued in the same way. It was lovely to have a bit of milder, drier weather and then the cold and snow arrived. But what about all that lovely water your water butts have been saving for you? The garden certainly doesn't need watering, so are they spilling over?

Our answer to this, as well as saving on our water bills and water usage was to install a rainwater flushing toilet last year, when changing a rather old downstairs toilet - the type with the cistern high up so it used a lot of water when flushing. It has been a huge success, our water bills last year were significantly lower. The downstairs toilet is the one most used during the daytime so this made perfect sense.

Raised water butt feeding the downstairs toilet

We first came to the idea from an article in the Permaculture Magazine, and after discussing it with my Dad (master of all things DIY), we installed one. It involved raising one of our water butts to enable the water to fill the cistern. There was a lot of hard graft put in my my Dad as the fittings to the old toilet were very outdated so lots of head-scratching. But it was done, the toilet is fitted with two inlet float valve systems and all we have to do is switch from water butt to water mains if the water butt hasn't enough water which really should only occur in the Summer (as it did this year), but not now - it's been filling nicely from all that rain.

Inside the cistern with the
two inlet float valve systems

So this is our answer to a water butt spilling over. It's not something every household could do - depending on where your toilet is and whether you can get water storage in the correct place. Another little step to doing our bit to save water, and money. We're pretty good with our water consumption anyway, have been on a meter since living here and our bills are a lot lower than they were at previous smaller properties when paying water rates. I even convinced my parents to change to a meter last year and they too are seeing similar results.

We had to switch it back to the mains last week for a couple of days as the water butt froze, but we're back on the rainwater flush now. I'm sure once the snow has gone, it will return to being filled nicely with rain again.


  1. wow , how do i get hold of that article, i think this could work for us x

  2. Would love to do something like this. xx

  3. The article was in PM51 (permaculture magazine) - it is on the website so I'll add a link, but the magazine had a diagram that helped too, although we ending up doing a few things differently.

    PM me your email address and I'll sort something out for you.

  4. brilliant idea, would love the link, it wouldn't work for the main bathroom but there is another loo that is on an outside wall that it might work on.

  5. I will update with more info/detail soon.


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