Thursday, August 20, 2009


Big, super exciting studio news! We finally installed an air conditioner up here in my attic studio. I tried to delay the inevitable for as long as possible but this week's heat and humidity overwhelmed me.

In the six years we have lived in this house we have never felt the need for AC or even a fan. Our house is old, has thick walls and there are a lot of shade trees surrounding us. The house is also located on a rise, at the opening of a valley, and so it is just a bit cooler (and that includes cooler in the winter too ;)) here, plus we usually have a good breeze through here too. I like having windows open to catch the breezes and also at night the house cools down and retains that coolness for a good part of the day. There are usually a few days each summer though, when it is really, really hot and we are pretty uncomfortable from the heat and humidity. We all walk around grumbling and debating about buying a few fans at least. Usually though, by the time we decide to do that, the intense heat passes and we forget about buying more appliances.

All bets are off with the attic though! Last year when we finished the space we splurged and spent a small fortune on foam insulation which was a very good decision. Instead of the 200 degree temps up here before the renovation, it now only gets to about a hundred and twenty on a hot day. heh. Last summer I only worked in the studio in the mornings while it was fairly cool from the night, but this summer my schedule is a bit less predictable. It is VERY uncomfortable in the studio in the afternoons and especially if I have the lights on over the easel. ICK! So last week, before Doug left to go out west we decided to install a window unit. Good thing because we have had a bit of a heat wave since then!

So even though it is kinda like a nice cool heaven up here now, I am trying to use the ac VERY minimally. My own rules are that I leave the windows open all night and then only run the ac when I am up here working and if I am actually sweating. The space cools off pretty quickly once the ac gets started and I have yet to set it lower than 68. Ooh and it has a remote control! I thought a remote was totally ridiculous at first but now I do admit to sitting at my desk not four feet away from the ac and using the remote to turn it on AND enjoying the sheer laziness of that!!!

And Doug and I were remembering how back when we lived in Philly, it was pretty much a necessity to have air conditioning. Of course we couldn't afford one though and I recall buying a used, smelly crappy old window unit from a guy (who was probably fencing them) for like $20, which promptly broke down in the middle of a very hot July. Glad our situation has changed since then and that we can buy a new one (with a warranty!), yet there is still a little part of me that feels a bit guilty about the indulgence and also about further expanding our carbon footprint.

But I gotta work and it is pretty dang nice to have a relatively cool space to do that in.....


Denise Rose said...

Wow! I live in the south (Tennessee) and there is no way we could do it without air conditioning. I am at the point where I am hot all the time anyway so it is even more of a necessity for me! Glad you will be comfortable while you work though.

Unknown said...

Hi Tracy
In my own gradual renovation of a yard shed into my art studio, 2008 was the year of insulation, and 2009 the studio got its own heater and, this summer, an air conditioner. We live outside of Philly so we do have the semi steamy stretches of summer.

Lots more time to spend in the studio! Its a good thing.

Tracy Helgeson said...

Denise, Yeah, we used to live in Utah and ac was pretty important there too. Well, I suspect our heating needs in the winter here are a bit more involved than in other parts of the country, so it all evens out;)

Maryanne, oh I sure do remember the hot Philly summers..... Glad you got the air this year!

Gary's third pottery blog said...

That is SO cool. :)
My studio remains un-ai conditioned and today there are 2 kilns going in there and it is somewhat hellish....

Deborah Paris said...

Here in Texas, AC is a must. But, I do have one for my studio (with a remote that I also thought silly and now totally love!) that has an energy saver mode, so it goes off when the studio reaches the precribed temperature. Although it doesn't cool down alot here at night, I can turn the temp way up when I leave in the evening so it doesn't run or very little. Enjoy the cool!

Jack said...

Now a days we cannot do without the air conditioning...Even centralized a/c will be too good..i feel much better using that one..Thanks for sharing with us.

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patty a. said...

I also try to use my AC sparingly here in Ohio, but in the past two weeks we have had serious bouts of humidity. I live in a bi-level and the floors on the lower level in my sewing studio stay cold. So when the humidity goes up the moisture condensates on the floor and they get quite wet so then I break down and turn the AC on. I would think your paint would never dry with high humidity!

Anonymous said...

I bet you will find that it doesn't cost nearly as much to run as you think it will. A window A/C is nothing like central air for using electricty. I know from experience. I sweltered through a very hot month when we first moved to Sacramento 35 yeares ago. We would come home from work and practically go into a coma it was so hot, but we were afraid to turn on the window A/C for fear we couldn't afford the bill. We eventually realized it was hardly affecting the bill.


Making A Mark said...

Hot air rises! I did wonder what it was going to be like for you in the studio in the high heat of summer - and now I know!

I have a fan running - but that's because the computer's fan seems underpowered and the computer doesn't like the heat!

Over here in the UK the imperative now is to design out the need for air conditioning or extra heat in the winter through the way we design our buildings. We're getting very green!

Incidentally, one of the things I find works is keeping the windows closed when it heats up - that stops the hot air getting in! It's counter-intuitive but definitely works!