Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Keep cool!

One thing I especially would like to do with this blog is highlight big and small efforts we are continually making to upgrade and enhance your experience when you visit the Shafer Baillie Mansion. Some of these are almost invisible, despite being major in terms of cost and effort.

For example, the first summer we reopened the bed and breakfast after buying the Mansion and restoring it for a year and a half, we had about a week of that rarest Seattle weather phenomenon-- truly uncomfortably hot. Typical Seattle summers may see some days hitting the upper 80's or low 90's, but generally not very many days in a row and always cooling off nicely at night. Air conditioning remains unusual in Seattle houses. But that week of solid 90+ degree days, we could see we needed to have a plan for those rare occasions, so we installed seasonal window air conditioning units in each of our guest rooms on the second floor. These units served our guests quite adequately for that summer and the next two.

But as we began planning renovations on the third floor to add our three new guest rooms (see my earlier blog post about those), we wanted a more elegant solution to the hot-weather problem, especially because most of the third floor windows are casement-style and do not accommodate window air conditioners as readily as the double-hung windows on the second floor. Therefore, we decided to install central air conditioning for the second and third floors.

Now, stop and consider for a moment that we're talking about a huge, nearly century-old house that uses hot water radiators for heat-- in other words, no preexisting air ducts. And, it's in daily operation as a busy B&B with no opportunity to close down for several weeks of installation.

Suffice it to say it wasn't simple and it wasn't cheap, but Fred and his crew from Good Services Heating and Air Conditioning have experience working with retrofits to old houses like ours and they were up to the challenge. In addition to air conditioning, they have also installed an "economizer" unit on the roof to save energy by drawing cool outside air into the house once the ambient temperature drops in the evening, which it almost always does in Seattle.

We really do believe that only the best is good enough for our guests and we look forward to a comfortable summer in the Mansion, whatever Mother Nature may have in store!



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