A garden water butt could save you 10% on water bills – here's how

Who knew that the humble garden water butt would prove such a boon in this cost of living crisis?

A waterbutt collecting rain in a garden
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's all too easy to dub a rainy day as a bad one, but all of that wet weather isn't just good news for the local ducks – it can also prove excellent for your bank balance, too... so long as you install a garden water butt.

That's right: rain harvesting continues to reign supreme as one of this year's hottest garden trends, which isn't all that surprising considering our growing need for sustainable garden ideas as the climate continues to shift and change.

It may come as a surprise to some, though, that this eco-friendly initiative isn't just a great way to be greener: it's also a great way to stay in the green, too. Which, in this ongoing cost of living crisis, is no small thing at all.

Could a garden water butt save you money?

The average rainwater harvesting system costs around £2,500 to install. While doing so can save you up to 50% on your annual water bill, that's still an eyewatering amount of cash to put down.

A simple downpipe diverter and garden water butt, however, can cost you as little as £35 – and it'll still shave around 10% off your annual water bill.

A rain barrel in a modern garden

(Image credit: Getty)

'With the recent rise in water bills, alongside drier summers with an increased risk of hosepipe bans, rainwater harvesting is a simple way to save money and help the environment at the same time,' says Charlie McNeill, managing director at Rainclear Systems.

Charlie McNeill
Charlie McNeill

With 14 years at Rainclear and her previous experience as a Senior Technician, Charlie has a long history of work within the building materials industry and supports customers to select the best sustainable rainwater, drainage and architectural aluminium solution for their new build, renovation or conservation project.

'To save yourself massive water bills come summertime, I’d recommend purchasing a water butt, a small investment now, that could save you far more if we get lucky enough to have a hot summer!' agrees Craig Wilson, co-founder, director and in-house gardening expert at Gardeners Dream.

Craig Wilson at Gardeners Dream
Craig Wilson

Craig Wilson, co-founder and director of Gardener's Dream Ltd has established himself as a key figure in the online gardening industry. With over two decades of plant knowledge and gardening experience, he takes pride in sharing his top tips and tricks for the garden.

Praising those who embrace the world of rainscaping, Charlie goes on to explain that rainwater harvesting doesn't have to be complex. 

'In its simplest form, rainwater harvesting is when you capture water from your roof and store it in a water butt,' she says. 

'You can then use what you’ve collected to water your plants or wash your car. It can be really quite easy to set up – all you need is a water butt connected to your rainwater downpipe.'

So, how does a garden water butt save us money?

'Outdoor tasks, such as watering your garden plants or washing your car, account for approximately 10% of water usage in a typical UK household,' explains Charlie. 

'By using rainwater for these tasks, especially during dry periods, you could significantly reduce your water bills if you're on a metered bill. Freshwater sources are becoming increasingly strained due to climate change and growing populations, so harvesting water is a great way to help reduce demand, especially during the peak summer months.' 

Decorative metal garden bench on a lawn in front of a stone wall, with a dog sat next to it

(Image credit: Future PLC/Brent Darby)

Charlie adds that using rainwater 'can be good for your garden too, as the lack of chemicals and minerals in rainwater is highly beneficial for some plants.'


How long can you keep water in a water butt?

It's a good idea to drain rain water off  your water butt every 10 days or so – not just to keep it from overflowing, but also to stop flies and other bugs using it as a home and breeding ground.

Is collecting rainwater illegal in UK?

While some states in the United States have rules and restrictions around rain harvesting, the same is not true of the UK. In fact, many councils are actively encouraging residents to give the eco-friendly hack a go!

Of course, if you're not sure a garden water butt is quite right for you, there's always the more elegant rain chain to consider.

Hey, if it combines form and function and saves us money in the process, we're into it...

Kayleigh Dray
Acting Content Editor

Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.