Self Sufficient Living

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Rainwater Harvesting

The UK climate often gives us more wet weather than we want, however we don't get much for free these days so perhaps its something we can be grateful for. Since embarking on the journey of self-sufficiency rain has become really important to us. The dry spring this year saw us using our barrels of rainwater to keep the veg in the garden alive, just. This spring we switched over to a metered mains water supply so collecting rainwater has become even more important.

With sustainable living becoming more economically important we decided to see how we could make best use of this free resource and embarked on installing a second cold water pipe system
throughout the house, this is a pumped and filtered supply from five interlinked barrels holding 250 gallons.

The pump was supplied by Rainwater Ring them they make this pump in Pertersfield and it isn't shown on the website, really helpful people too.

Now finished, we fitted second ball valves into the toilets. (most modern close coupled toilet cisterns have two entry points for a ball valve, either the left or right side, one is usually blanked off). We fitted a second ball valve into this blanked off hole and then shut off the mains supplied ball valve. The new ball valve is supplied by the rainwater pipe and pumbed into the pumped supply. If we run out of rainwater we simply turn on the mains supplied ball valve. The washing machine has also been connected to the rainwater system ( less soap powder is required as the water is softer, no chlorine).

Water Pump
Downpipe filter

The eventual aim is to use this water in the hot water system too, this will mean treating it to drinking water purity levels, this can be achieved using an ultra violet light in the header tank or an inline ultra violet light filter/ purifyer. If will need to remove particulates out to below 5 microns in diameter.

Currently our hot water is heated by the woodburner in the winter and solar panels in the summer with ecomomy 7 electricity backup in the winter.

We have now fitted a stainless steel cylinder with two indirect coils, one for the solar system and the other for the woodburner system with an economy 7 / boost element.

Before the water gets to the barrel it is filtered for leaves using a down pipe filter, it then gets diverted into the barrel through pipe with a U bend at the bottom, this introduces the water at the bottom of the barrel but it flows upward eliminating sediment being disturbed.

The storage barrels are temporary and will eventually be replaced by a larger underground tank( if and when we can afford one) which will prevent freezing issues and take advantage of the greater volume it can hold. Our barrels fill very quickly in a downpour, so much is wasted via the overflow back into the drain, we now have 7 x 50 gal drums linked together and haven't run out during this summer, one more may be enough I think.