Another one of our August jobs was installing some rainwater tanks. The task was to put something in that was better than our existing “rainwater harvesting” jug, but was cheaper than the full-on rainwater harvesting systems I’ve looked at before.

The answer was 1500-litre recycled tanks from eBay – they are used once for shipping Orange juice, then they are superfluous. We got three of them for only £80 each – great value in comparison to new tanks, and they came in an as-new condition, needing just a rinse out. We had a lot of fun getting them into position, but luckilyI had some help:

Once I’d got them in place there was the small issue of how to get the water out!

Not being a plumber I was a little nervous, but the solution is surprisingly simple. Drill the right size hole, and then a garden tap – bought from your local DIY place – will screw straight in, cutting its own thread as it goes. The only hitch? Don’t buy taps with one-way valves in – they work fine at mains pressure but the lower pressure from the water tanks was not enough to open the valves. You’ll know if you have these taps – firstly, no water will come out, and secondly they have these little white valves in the ends. Either swap them, or you can lever the little valves out!

With that little wrinkle ironed out, the tanks were all ready – here is one of them hiding behind the shed:

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Ok, now this post is going to be really techie, feel free to switch off unless you’ve been passionately following our Aquaponics system development. Before we can put fish into the system we need to make sure that the environment they’re going into is safe for them.

This means it needs to have:

  • The right pH – not too high or too low, it seems 6-8 is about right.
  • Enough Oxygen in the water – Trout need more than 5.5 ppm.
  • No ammonia – any ammonia added needs to be converted into Nitrite & Nitrate by the bacteria in the growbeds.
  • The right temperature – for trout this is less than 25°C and warmer than frozen solid!
  • No chlorine or chloramine (often present in tap water)

With that in mind I set about testing the water that we’d just filled the tanks with – Manchester tap water. If you’re interested, you can see the test results below:

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ecocamelJust seen the EcoCamel aerating showerhead – their test results claim a more pleasant shower with almost 50% of the water consumption of a standard shower. At the moment they are £40 for two – not the cheapest option, but a major saving if they work as forecast. Not only do you save water, but also they save the energy required to heat that water – assuming you’re not a devotee of cold showers! Potentially it could also mean that you ned to install less Solar Hot Water panels, which would be a significant saving!

 I’ve blogged a lot about water over at GentleDescent – I think living in a seven-year drought tends to make you realise how much we take water for granted. This is particularly true in the garden, where it is quite easy to go through hundreds of litres with a hose or sprinkler without even realising. We’ll be having Rainwater Tanks, but a large part of their output will be going into the house. To really ensure we have enough water for all the amazing food I want to grow, we’ll need to look at re-using our greywater too. The video below from the great guys at Peak Moment shows an interesting, low-energy greywater system – something I’ll definitely have to think about.

handpumpAnother nice resilient piece of equipment. Assuming you’ve got some local water storage – hopefully big rainwater tanks – you need to be able to get to the water in case of long power shortages, where mains water is likely to be unavailable and power cannot be spared for electric water pumps.

Here’s what you need, a nice traditional Cast-iron hand pump. It’s only £35 and should last a lifetime. If you’re not planning on getting little kids to do all the pumping for you there is a matching stand available for another £35 which brings it up to a reasonable height.

Another one to add to the shopping list!

Steadily firming up the shopping list for our new house – here’s the latest list, with links. 

Kitchen

Dining Room

  • Expandable table

Playroom

  • Instant-heat to stand in front of (Gas?)

Lounge

  • Wood-fired stove
  • Central Pendant light in diffusing shade – 12v CFL?
  • Two Standard/Reading Lamps – 12v CFL?

Garden

  • Kitchen Scraps Compost: Black Soldier Fly Composter / Worm Farm 
  • Firewood store, and at least 12m³ of wood
  • Greenhouse with Aquaponics system

Heating & Hot Water

Power & Light

Water

Having been looking at increasing our resilience and reducing our impact by using rainwater internally from a large Rainwater Tank, one thing to note is that it can also save us money. Firstly we need to get a meter fitted, so that we’ll only pay our standing charge plus actual water usage. If we’re not using any external water then, according to United Utilities’ Rate Sheet we could be paying as little as £43 a year – saving about £100 a year. Secondly we can apply for a reduction in our Sewerage charges as the water will no longer be entering the sewer. It’s not a huge reduction  – about £34 a year on the fixed charge, plus about £100 a year on consumption charges, but better than nothing! 

So in total we’ll probably save just over £200 a year – not enought o make it a no-brainer investment decision, but certainly a nice bonus for something we were already wanting to do.