Catching rainwater off the roof

Oh, the buckets, the buckets.

My in-laws utilize the tumble washer. Washing a load uses 15 gallons, rinsing a load uses 15 gallons. For 2 full-time working adults, who aren’t home to flush all day, their water bill in 2011 equaled no more than $15 to $20 a month.

I find that impressive.

I am home all day, though. So I picked up a few water ideas from my green mother. Yes, she is actually green. You should see her thumbs.

I ran across two buckets someone attempted to throw out. I asked if I could have them and they said yes! I put one in the bathtub and one by the toilet. Then we went out and bought two dish pans for the sink and one for the sink in the bathroom.

While we lived in Virginia and Georgia, the buckets and dish pans caught all the water.  The soapy water kept the bugs off my bush beans in the garden. The rinse water stopped the thirst of my strawberry and watermelon plants or we dumped some in the compost. The water we caught in the bathroom from washing our hands and brushing our teeth flushed the toilet. While in the shower, if I moved the bucket around in the tub with my foot, it caught 1/2 to 3/4 bucket of clean water. I turned the water off and washed out of the clean water in the bucket. Then I used my shower/bath water to flush the toilet. No water wasted. The only time I flushed the toilet was for a poo.

My husband shaved daily with olive oil, which turned out too messy and sticky to catch in the pan in the bathroom sink, so that drain we used daily. We ran the dishwasher once or twice a week to keep water in the water trap.

I loved those buckets. I used others to catch rain water off the roof. That water we used to water plants, the garden and flush the toilet.


Catching rainwater off the roof

And our water bill? It capped at about $60 a month, but that included trash and recycling pickup. (Which I wrote and asked the city to stop because we didn’t have enough trash to pick up, but they claimed it was the law that they had to charge us.)

Of course they did. Gotta love St. Marys, Georgia and their backward ways.

Now that we’re living in Wisconsin, in our own home, I plan to try out……wait for it…..THE RAIN BARREL!! I’ve been itching to try one of these for years. And since the previous owner installed the low-flush toilets, we don’t even have to use the buckets to flush anymore. It uses that little water.

Ahh….dreams do come true.

Other things we used to catch rain water.

Other things we used to catch rain water.

What about you? Any luck with rain barrels? Is one better than another?


6 responses to “Catching rainwater off the roof

  1. With olive oil!? Will need to give that a try.
    As for getting the rainwater – those 200 litre ex-olive barrels are great.

  2. We bought our first rain barrel from for $60 — it’s a 60-gal soft plastic barrel that must be put away for winter freezes. Then I found a friend locally who makes them from recycled food-grade barrels ($45 for 50 gal, and can stay out in winter). Check your local craigslist and ask friends who garden!! Rain barrels rock!

  3. We have rain barrels on every corner of the house with the gutters running into them. Loads of water for the garden in the recent drought when others were panicking.

  4. We’ve always used rain barrels too. I grew up using dish pans in the sink to conserve water – but in our case it was because the well would go dry in the summer. We also had a cistern – a large holding tank/room built into most rural homes to collect rainwater. We could switch our pump from the well to the cistern and use that water for the dry months (we just couldn’t drink it). I think that practise has fallen out of use now, unfortunately.

  5. Truly inspirational! Shame about the billing stupidity though

  6. Thanks for the inspiration ladies!!

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