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Living in Whitehorse, Yukon, has exceeded all our expectations in many ways – this city is beautiful, offering natural, scenic splendor in an abundance that only Canada can; rivers and rapids, snow-capped mountains, green forests with abounding wildlife – Yukon is home to the black bear, has a large population of moose, caribou, wolves, mountain sheep and lynx. Hiking and biking trails, hot springs, white water rafting – the cup overflows. It would be plain greedy to ask for more. Lovely roads, excellent civic amenities and housing, and less expensive to live here than it would be in the southern provinces. And the wonderfully clean cold air! Whitehorse is known to be one of the least polluted cities in Canada, and the main reason we decided to move here and not the more popular Vancouver, Manitoba or Edmonton. Having lived most of our lives as academic professionals in New York City, USA, my wife and I have both been battling respiratory disorders and borderline heart dysfunction. Our move here has induced us to live healthy and regain a lot of our dormant passion for the outdoor life. Today our hypertension and cholesterol levels are way down the scale; the slow transition from living the fast paced life to living the simple, healthy life having done us both a world of good!

We are now ready to pay more attention to making our home, the old two-storey house in Spruce Hill that we’ve had to patch up to make it habitable. We’d had it had new plumbing installed and done some patch up before having the place repainted. The windows were in seemingly good shape but now that summer is here, we realize that some modifications have to be made before we receive some guests from overseas….they’re Canadians not acclimatized to Canada’s weather! They told us they’d invested in some very warm clothes as their neighbors, who’d returned from a visit to Saskatchewan, told them it was still freezingly cold in Canada.

Up here in northern Canada, we’re the land of the midnight sun, receiving very little rain, and an average of 21C being the warmest in summer, so we could see that we were going to do lots to make them comfortable in our home. When we’d moved, we’d brought our relatively serviceable drapes with us, and as interiors weren’t really tops on our list, we made do with whatever we had. But now, I could see that our carelessness was actually costing us.


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The HVAC and Plumbing.

First, we decided to have a new HVAC with system installed, along with water saving taps and shower heads to enhance our almost new plumbing – this would help bring down our water and power consumption to a significant extent. The heat and energy recovery systems maintained a stable yet comfortable indoor temperature while keeping the air refreshed when the windows were kept shut.

The Windows.

Our floors are wooden and well maintained, and the walls were patched up when we returned, we didn’t want to tamper with them at the moment, as the consultants we’d hired said we were good for a long time to come, but we would have to replace our old windows and doors with the newer high-performance units that would aid the HVAC system in keeping our home sustainably functional. As it was going to cost us quite a packet, we decided to have all the windows on the ground floor replaced. We had only our bedroom and one that was unused upstairs and figured we could push it for another year.

We would accommodate our friends in the bedroom downstairs – an elderly couple like us, they wanted to see a bit of Canada, using our place as a base, so they were going to be with us for 6 weeks. We so looked forward to having them with us – old friends who’d gone to university with us in Spain – we’d been up the hill together, many a time.

Along with the new double-glazed, argon filled windows that would cut down reduce heat loss by more than double that the old windows did, we had neat 4 inch wooden frames that matched the flooring installed around all the windows and French doors, including adjustable, narrow side rails inside of the frames that would serve as additional air seepage blocks, because even the ¼ inch left around the window shades would result in glare and air infiltration.

Inside Mounted Cellular Shades.

Next, we decided to scrap our fuddy-duddy drapes for the elegant and contemporary Crown Cellular or Honeycomb Shades, in double layers. They could be mounted on the insides of the window frames and the French door frames as well; and we were advised that the motorized versions were the best option to consider. We decided on the inside mounted option because –

1. Shading fitted close (an inch away from the window pane) to the window glazing is considered most energy saving
2. It would show off our newly framed windows
3. The shades would be raised and lowered through the side rails we’d installed, so the warm air within wouldn’t seep out; in addition, all the shades were uniformly white on the outside, so they would deflect the sun’s heat during the day on warm days
4. Inside mounted shades look neat, and our shades are motorized, so we had no cords dangling down the front of the shades, giving them a seamless uncluttered look
5. Our windows are all large, so the inside mounts make them look trim and elegant, blending nicely with the upholstery of our roomy contemporary sofas, chairs, and beds.


Outside Mounts.

The only advantages to having outside mounted shades that I could see was if we’d decided to keep our drapes – drapes look tacky when they’re used for inside mounts. Stylish drapery rods could be shown in relief when fitted over the window frames, and the air seepage would be reduced when they overlap the window/door frame edges. Also, if the windows in a room are small, having outside mounts installed would aid in creating an illusion of space.

We’d decided on light filtering shades for the living cum dining area, and blackout shades for the a/v room and the guest bedroom; these would be extremely advantageous for the bedroom as we have 20 hours of daylight most days in summer. We wouldn’t want our guests to be groggy and sleep deprived during their stay with us – the blackout shades would ensure that they’d have a good night’s sleep, however bright it is outside. In addition, they would be warm as toast in their room, as their tolerance for cold is very, very low, and they would be cold, as our thermostats are programmed to be set to the minimum heating and cooling; call us skinflints, but we’re responsible for our environment. Better late than never!


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