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How to Stay Cool Outdoors: An Interview with Billy Portman of Elegant Mist

By Billy Portman

Please tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

I started Elegant Mist in 2007. We install misting systems for commercial and residential use. We also do a large rental business.

Can you briefly describe what a mist cooling system is and the basics of how one works?

A mist system is made up of two components: a high-pressure pump, which pushes water out at 1000 psi, and a mist line, which is usually made up of a stainless steel tube with a misting nozzle every 2 feet. You can also use a misting fan in place of or in addition to a mist line. Misting works on the principle of evaporative cooling. If you push a high-pressure mist into the air, it absorbs the heat and drops the temperature, sometimes up to 30 degrees.

What are some of the most popular areas that Southern California homeowners have outdoor cooling systems installed?

Anywhere that it gets hot! We do a lot of work in Calabasas and the San Fernando Valley. We also get a lot of calls from Pasadena, the Inland Empire and parts of Orange County.

Is there something that most people don't know about mist cooling systems that they should know?

The biggest misconception is that a system will get you wet. Many people try misting by buying a low-pressure system at a hardware store. These will drip and get you wet. A high-pressure system will evaporate quickly and keep you cool without getting you wet!

What kind of maintenance do these systems need after they're installed?

Maintenance is pretty easy. Depending on how hard the water is in your area, you need to clean the nozzles once a season or more. You should also change the filter once a season. That's about it. We offer a service plan where we winterize your system, as well as get it ready for the season.

What do the water use and utility costs typically run?

I've been getting a lot of questions about water usage because of the drought we are experiencing in Southern California. Misting is actually one of the most efficient ways to keep cool. Running an average misting system for three hours uses about as much water as a load of laundry. In fact, if you spent a few hours outside with your misters running, and turned off the AC, you'd be using a lot less water.

What is one of the most common questions (and the answer) that you are asked about outdoor mist cooling?

Other than "Will I get wet?" or "How much water will I use?" the most common question I get asked is "Why didn't I call you sooner?"

What's the best way for people to contact your company?

You can send me an email to billy@elegantmist.com. You can also call me at 310-857-6644. I see people who spend so much money creating a beautiful backyard space, and then it gets so hot, they never use it. It's time to reclaim your backyard! A misting system is a luxurious, affordable way to keep cool.

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