August 3, 2006 at 8:31 a.m.
As they were relaxing on their front porch last week, Frank Gagliardis shared an idea with his wife, Dorothy, on how to cool off the porch and help cut the heat in their home at the same time.
His idea was to direct water onto the porch’s slanted, metal roof to work against the sun’s harsh rays.
So, Gagliardis took the soaker hose that was watering his grass and put it to another use. It took about 10 minutes on a step ladder for him to run the hose along the top of the porch roof.
When he turned the faucet on, Gagliardis created a sort of rain forest-type effect on the porch, as some of the water misted out and fell around them and the rest silently trickled down the roof and into the grass.
“I figured if you cool off the roof, you cool off the house,” Gagliardis said.
When he saw how well it worked, Frank called Dot out to the porch.
“She couldn’t get over it. She loved it,” Frank said.
The constant water flow on the roof has cooled the air temperature on the porch by as much as 10 degrees since the hose was installed. Even though they have their own well and don’t pay directly for water, Gagliardis is pleased that the water isn’t being wasted, either.
As it trickles down the roof to the ground, it is watering a lawn that is much like most of our lawns – in need of rain. The deflecting mist carries out into the grass as well, while some drips off the roof and into awaiting flowers in several hanging planters at the roof’s edge.
And as Frank and Dot visit or sit and read the paper on the porch, the occasional breeze will carry some of the mist along with it, leaving them feeling refreshed.
Gagliardis is so happy with his porch modification that he plans to make it a permanent feature by installing a pvc pipe to carry and distribute the water across the roof.
The cool porch has also helped cool their home. A fan in the adjacent kitchen window pulls some of that cooled air into the house and is then moved around by ceiling fans.
It has worked so well, the couple has been able to turn off their air conditioner and be comfortable in their home, which Frank likes much better.
“I don’t like turning it on, I like having the house open,” he said.
As a retired Xcel Energy employee who worked at a power production plant in St. Paul, Gagliardis is pleased that the water is helping to conserve energy.
He said the water usage is so minimal that he estimates it’s using about one-tenth the electricity they used to need to run the a/c. Plus, of course, it’s helping the grass, Frank added.
It has also given the couple more opportunity to use their porch. “It used to get so hot you couldn’t handle it out here,” Frank said. “Now we can be out here most of the day.”