Roman Shades to the Rescue
Working to supplement tuition is tough, and most students on scholarships or burdened by student loans will testify to this often bleak fact. My parents, both doctors, have moved back east while they’re still young enough to make the transition. My sister and I are both students – she has begun her medical studies while I switched from engineering to studying divinity. The parents, though thoroughly disappointed, were kind enough to support this change in the direction I was headed in, continuing to pay for my education in addition to my sister’s. While they loved working and living here in Canada all of 25 years, the home soil beckoned, and they decided to move back a few months ago, leaving us the home we’d grown up in. While Elizabeth tutors school kids twice a week for extra income, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to hang on to my part time jobs. And the one thing I can’t do is ask the parents to do more for me. I’m a certified tennis coach, and I occasionally find spots to train kids part time at the local tennis academy, but the opportunities are becoming fewer – I haven’t been called in the last month, and my bank balance is running seriously low. Thank God for the soup kitchen the church subsidizes, I can at least keep body and soul together if the push comes to a shove since I volunteer there every day.
A report from the Huffington post –
“Canada’s labor market surprised in March, churning out 29,000 new jobs, far exceeding economists’ expectations of a decline of 10,000.”
But Statistics Canada said the job gains were largely due to increases in part-time work; the country lost 28,000 full-time jobs. And much of the increase was due to government hiring, with public-sector jobs up 27,000.
The unemployment rate stayed steady at 6.8 percent.
Despite the oil price collapse, Alberta’s job numbers were flat, and Saskatchewan actually saw employment rise by 7,000. Employment was little changed in Quebec and Ontario.
Among the winners were trade-related jobs, up by nearly 20,000, and — perhaps surprisingly — natural resource jobs, up 6,300. On the negative side, construction lost 12,100 jobs and manufacturing lost 2,400.
StatsCan noted in its release that most of the increase in jobs over the past year went to the 55-plus age group. Youth unemployment and employment among the core 25-54 working-age group was little changed in March, the agency said.”
I must agree with the above statistics, I am after all, proof of it! Elizabeth and I have considered selling our house and dividing up the proceeds, but the house is large, and finding a buyer in the economic climate of today is near impossible. Besides, though the property was left to us in exceedingly good repair, maintaining it is getting to be horribly expensive, especially the utilities. The mowing and gardening are some things that I’m used to, washing windows and maintaining the gutters and drains have always fallen on me to do from way back when. But we had our parent’s financial support then and are only getting to know now how difficult it is see to its upkeep. Seeing as fall will soon be upon us, with temperatures dropping and utilities rising exponentially, I have started insulation work on the house, and with the savvy I picked up from my engineering studies, I have started working on the floors and roof, all of which are fairly tight, except for the bathroom floor on top, and the leak in the garage and pantry roof. My parents had installed high-performance windows and doors a few years ago, so they were all good, but the French doors in the huge study seem to have sprung leaks that I need to fix. And the good news is that Harper has promised permanent home reno tax credits, which, if it materializes, will pay us back the cost of repairs –
Home Renovation Tax Credit Promised By Harper During Tile Factory Stopover
“Prime Minister Harper announced the next phase of our low-tax plan for Canadian families. A Conservative government will introduce a new, permanent Home Renovation Tax Credit that will help Canadians maintain and increase the value of their homes.”
For most Canadians, the family home is their biggest financial investment and the place where they raise their children, relax with friends and family and enjoy their golden years. A permanent Home Renovation Tax Credit will help make it more affordable for Canadians to ensure their homes meet their needs.
In 2015 alone, our low-tax plan will return as much as $6,600 back into the hands of each hardworking family in Canada. A new Home Renovation Tax Credit will save Canadians even more.
“Conservatives believe that that Canadians are best-placed to decide how to invest in the needs and priorities of their families. A re-elected Conservative government will continue to implement our low-tax plan to support Canadian families.”
Now, the study was my parent’s domain, decorated fancifully in wicker and bamboo, with the French doors leading to the garden their very own private garden. Of course, it was now beginning to look and smell unlived in, with a draft coming in from somewhere, most likely the doors. Elizabeth and I plan to close off most of the house with the exception of our bedrooms that had attached baths, the pantry leading off the kitchen that would do as a kitchenette, and this huge space that we could access from the garage. It had a tiny washroom too, so if we were of a mind to entertain on occasion, it would do nicely. I planned to have the HVAC specialists come in to seal off the ducting in the rest of the house to save on utilities. In the future, we could also rent out part of the house to tourists or even rent it out permanently, but that would require more resources that we had to our resources just now. Maybe next year, once winter was on the vane. Spring heralds new hope, so we could make new plans then, but for now, frugality was uppermost in both our minds.
Our bedrooms and bathrooms were just fine, though I’m not too pleased with the heavy drapes we’ve lived with, but they would have to do. Our mother had had all the bed and bath linen exactly coordinated with the drapes and curtains, and the Lake Forest Faux Wood blinds that were installed in the bathrooms a year ago are in perfect condition, so no worries there. The pantry was fully equipped to function as an alternative kitchen for when mother was out of town or the country – she didn’t want anyone messing up her wonderfully appointed, state-of-the-art kitchen. Dad was a frozen dinner cook though he could manage a gourmet meal if time allowed, but when mom was away, it was takeouts all the way!
As a throwback to the days when they were growing up in India, my parents had fans fitted in all the rooms when the house was built. This apparently makes good economic sense, as they could be used in summer, without having to use the HVAC. When the fans are switched on, they provide a wind chill effect that create great thermal comfort, with naturally ventilated air or with the air con on the bare minimum settings. And all our windows are operable, so during summer we leave windows open more often than not, with the sheer drawn closed. But I was foxed that my parents hadn’t even bothered to have window coverings, or their darling drapes fitted in the study, especially as the doors faced east. I would have to seal the room up for the coming heating months, I addition to covering the French doors, as the dark wooden floor was bleached in areas where the sun streamed in. Luckily the bookshelves were in the shadows. Otherwise, the expensive books would soon be disintegrating with sun rot.
Sealing Off the Air Seepage
First things first. The hinged French doors were made with the low profile and durable reinforced fiberglass frames, with argon filled double glazing and a low-E coating that made them beautifully efficient in any weather, closing on a compression weather stripping seal. But I notice that there was a small draft coming in through the bottom of the doors. And I noticed that there was no threshold at the bottom, which would definitely take care of the problem. I’m now sure our utility bills are high because of this. Though we have French doors in our bedrooms, there are wooden thresholds built as an extension to the floor. I would have to fit wooden thresholds here, too add a compression seal, and then strip the floor as well, before polishing it to take care of the bleached areas.
Now, I had to decide on the window covering type to use. I loved the idea of blinds and shades, but in keeping with the rest of the décor, I decided it would have to be something that sported the fabric splendor of the expensive drapes in the rest of the house. Getting online to research my options as I usually do, I came across scores of websites offering window shading – drapes, blinds, shutters, shades. And what caught my fancy were the Roman Shades Canada. I decided to visit the various retailers downtown as well, just to get the feel of the fabric and compare prices. I came away with a sense of detached unreality! The online stores seemed to offer much better deals, but since they were mostly American websites, I wasn’t sure of the taxes that would be imposed as it would mean that the shades were imported.
Canadian Customs Duties
I learned that as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadians do not have to pay duty on most American and Mexican manufactured items. But just because you buy something from the States doesn’t guarantee that it was manufactured there – chances are it was imported into the States, and therefore, you’re liable to be taxed when it comes to Canada, not least other hidden charges. But good/reputed websites have their shipping policies and procedures enlisted in the Customer services or Help section. And just about anything that’s imported into Canada is subject to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 5%, over and above the customs duties that apply. Canada Post is authorized to charge the recipient a handling fee of $5.00 for mail items and $8.00 for express mail items for collecting duties and taxes assessed by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). If there is no duty or tax owed, they don’t charge a fee. Customs broker fees for courier companies vary but are usually much higher than the Canada Post fee.
I really can’t afford all of this hassle, and regular retailers were over the top and out of my range. Just about to give up and use some old bed sheet to proxy as drapes, I came across www.zebrablinds.ca, offering the same products as www.zebrablinds.com, the American counterpart. This meant that I could get awesome deals on my home turf, no import duties and clearing charges. This was so cool. I just couldn’t believe my luck! And the products seemed to be sold at practically half the cost of that the regular retail outlets did! Over and above which they had deals once the product was added to the shopping cart. And policies and procedures, instructions and guides, limited lifetime guarantee specifications, protective certifications – they were all stated clearly on the website.
Engineered Window Shading Solutions for Canada
To avoid errors, to prevent making window shading considerations an afterthought, and to allow the best chances for the success of building projects, scientists have come up with a guide (An Architects Guide to Engineered Shading Solutions) to educate building professionals about engineered window shading solutions, which in turn helps homeowners reconsider their window shading choices, especially in the pursuit of improving home values. The emphasis on sustainable shading solutions has put window coverings on the centre stage, along with HVAC and Lighting systems. The effective management of natural light, glare, and heat through engineered shading solutions defines systems as more than just throwing a shade on a window –
“Engineered shading solutions are sustainable systems for interior and exterior window coverings, which engage the latest technologies to control heat, glare, and light.” – Neil Gordon.
The creative applications of scientific principles to design and develop structures with respect to their intended functions were very much in play in the heyday of the Roman Colosseum (AD70-80) when crowds were entertained with spectacular gladiator contests in the open air. Awnings with an elaborate system of ropes and pulleys (the Velarium) shielded the spectators from the harsh Mediterranean sun. When not in use, the shades folded back on themselves, much like the modern day shading – the Roman Shades of Canada – an excellent example of an engineered shading solution! When employed correctly, engineered shading solutions reduce stress from building systems, for e.g., the architect Roger Bayley specified automated exterior solar shades to reduce solar heat gain in the rooms in the Vancouver Olympic Village.
Daylighting vs. Light pollution
Harvesting natural daylight is a priority of modern design, but the glare caused by excessive light is a cause for endless concern, and the best way to address this is to employ shading, as in the case of my study. Shades that are motorized and timed reduce building and environmental stress caused by night-time light spilling into the neighborhood. Managing the entry of natural light to reduce the amount of energy used for cooling is beautifully executed with shading systems like the Roman Blinds in Canada.
A Roman Shade is one in which the fabric creases into a series of concertina folds when drawn up. Wood or plastic reapers are stitched into the fabric, spaced evenly over the body of the shade, with eyelets screwed into the reapers through which the lift cords run to raise the shade, folding over itself in the front or the back. There are many variations of this classic flat style –the Austrian or Balloon Roman that has the bottom edge of the shade ruched so that the shades have cascading fabric that looks richly appointed; the Hobbled or Looped Roman that has fabric falling in folds over the front of the shade; the Relaxed Roman that has a slight slouch to the bottom edge; the London Style in which the relaxed Roman is held up on either side with ribbons that are buttoned or tied.
The RollEase Roman Lift System uses the traditional components of a roller shade but instead of rolling the fabric onto the tube, it wraps the lift cord or lines into the tube using spools or clips and in conjunction with RollEase’s array of efficient clutch systems, will enable heavy Roman shades to be raised quicker (larger diameter take-up spool) with lower pull forces and smooth operation than any other Roller Roman Shade system.
Roman on Roller Tube
RollEase’s EasySpring Plus clutches offer cordless operations that are seamlessly easy to use.
CROWN Kinsale Roman Shades are shades made of the sturdy 100% polyester fabric Kinsale that has a white-to-the-street side, acrylic foam backing that offers excellent thermal insulation, with blackout options too. This wonderful option offers simplistically suburban styling for windows while insulating against the heat and the cold for a comfortable thermal interior atmosphere, and are available in a variety of modern colors, with corded controls.
NORMAN Centerpiece Roman Shades are crafted from fabrics of linen and cotton blends in light filtering and room darkening materials, offering the choice of the seamed batten front construction or the seamless classic flat, batten back, cascading softly from top to bottom. With the convenient Aerolite Cordless lift system in addition to the regular corded system, these shades are ideal for homes with children and pets. It comes with a white backing that conceals unsightly cords from view.
GRABER’S Artisan Roman Shades are an exquisite collection of the most intricately handcrafted shades that would uplift the décor of any home. Available in mind-blowing variety of fabrics, textures and styles, in sheer light filtering and room darkening, they can be outfitted with a variety of backings that aid fall, protect the shade fabric, offer insulation, repel dust and moisture, and offer thermal insulation. In addition to the corded and cordless lift systems that offer the beneficial top down bottom up feature for a variety of light control and privacy requirements, Graber offers the motorized lift system that provides convenience of use, in coordination with timers and light sensors to manage daylighting and energy efficiency.
I ultimately opted for the Crown Kinsale Roman Shades in a Hunter green to complement the upholstery on the wicker sofas and easy chairs. As they came with the acrylic foam backing, I didn’t have to incur additional expenses to insulate them, and they were cheaper than the other brands, which worked out just fine for me. ZebraBlinds offered me an unbeatable deal in addition to sending me free trial samples. I had the shades inside mounted on the French doors for neat elegance. The study looked great, even Elizabeth, who had no time for the mundane noticed the transformation.
I’d hopefully see a decline in my utility bills in the months to come, and while I’m hoping to find steady employment, I hope Harper keeps his promises.