The purchase or repair of a furnace, boiler, central air conditioner or ventilation system is a major investment and, because of the direct impact on our daily comfort, this type of home upgrade or maintenance deserves careful consideration, research and expertise. More often than not, homeowners do not distinguish one contractor from another on anything but price. Due to safety concerns, as well as the increased costs of heating or cooling a home without the proper equipment, the lowest price is not always the best value.

To maximize your comfort, safety and peace of mind, and to minimize your operating costs down the road, be sure to deal only with qualified, professional contractors.

So how can you be sure a contractor is reputable and qualified?

There are some obvious red flags to look for when shopping for a contractor. Reputable contractors, for example:

• will not quote prices over the phone without first assessing your job on-site;

• will not request large cash advances prior to the delivery of any equipment or materials'

• will readily provide a full business address as well as a telephone number where the company can be reached;

• will be happy to offer the names and addresses of customers they have done work for in your area.

Your own due diligence is important to locating a reputable contractor. Prior to calling for a quote, research the contractors in your area by:

• using the contractor locator on www.hrai.ca (or contact the call centre at 1-877-467-4724). Member contractors will display the HRAI logo;

• visiting each contractor's website for a review of their services and the equipment they offer;

• making sure the contractors you deal with are properly licensed and insured to do the work that they do;

• speaking with the contractor's previous clients.

The Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) requires its contractor members to carry relevant trade, fuel safety and applicable licenses as well as worker's compensation and liability insurance. You may be surprised to learn that many contractors simply don't bother with licensing or insurance. They may pass on lower costs to you up front, but you could end up paying much more over time, not only financially, but in terms of your family's comfort, health, safety and peace of mind.

A contractor's membership in HRAI does not guarantee a quality installation or service, but it will provide you with some assurance that they are properly qualified and insured to do the job right.



Courtesy of Newscanada
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Have you ever stopped to consider how much thought and effort went into the design of the spaces you visit every day? You may not realize it, but your favorite restaurants, neighborhood grocery store and go-to movie theater follow some very specific design principles in order to create a unique space that is both visually appealing and user-friendly.

Much like home designers, commercial architects and interior designers think of spaces in their totality. To a commercial designer, every area - from the entryway to the public bathrooms to the behind-the-scenes storage areas - must be considered when working on a new project. One way commercial designers help create a unique look and feel throughout public spaces is through the use of repetition. Repeating a pattern, color or texture in more than one area of a space lends a feeling of continuity. 

According to Judd Lord, director of industrial design at Delta Faucet Company, this attention to detail makes commercial environments a great place to look for design inspiration.

'Highly-designed commercial spaces allow people to get a sense of what their own home may feel like in terms of color palette, textures, combination of materials and accents prior to actually committing to a design,' Lord says. 'For example, visiting high-end hotels can provide a great way to 'live' in a particular design aesthetic to see if it suits you.'

The next time you stay at a hotel, look for hints of repetition. You may find that the orange sofas in the lobby, for instance, carry through to your guest room pillows or decorative accents. Or, perhaps the wrought iron door handles match the window hardware perfectly. The small touches that regularly go unnoticed help to create a distinct sense of place in commercial spaces. When deciding what design elements to incorporate into a commercial building, designers consider not only how certain aspects can enhance overall design aesthetic, but also how they can be used to promote functionality in the space. For example, when designing an entryway, commercial designers must think about who will be using the space and for what purpose. While a banquet hall designer may prefer curving staircases to help create the feeling of grand luxury suitable for weddings and debutante balls, it is likely that they will also incorporate an elevator to ensure the space is accessible to all guests.

The important role functionality plays in commercial buildings is perhaps demonstrated most readily when taking the public bathroom into consideration. For instance, a single-room bathroom with a plush sitting area and vanity mirror may enhance the shopping experience for customers at a high-end boutique, while busy shoppers at large malls may prefer multiple stalls to help avoid long bathroom lines. For both of these spaces, innovative products can help enhance the bathroom experience through increased functionality. For instance, on Delta faucets that feature Proximity Sensing Technology, the entire faucet acts as a sensor, activating the flow of water instantly and effortlessly when it detects the presence of your hands. Faucets that employ this type of technology are more dependable than traditional infrared sensors - which can be unreliable in low-light or when wearing dark clothing and are more susceptible to vandalism that can impair the functionality of the faucet and make the bathroom experience a little easier for consumers in public spaces.

Building materials must also support the overall purpose of a space. Residential building materials are often chosen solely to help portray a specific design aesthetic, while materials used in commercial developments must be chosen with both durability and esthetics in mind. Everything, from the floorboards to the light switches, must be able to withstand the wear and tear of repeated use as these spaces may be visited by thousands of people per day. While a small amount of wear in a private home may make the environment feel more welcoming and warm, the public tends to regard the same amount of wear in a commercial space as being aged and out of date.

The next time you are out shopping at the grocery store, try to appreciate the smallest design details, such as the layout of shopping aisles that make it easier for you to navigate the store and return home more quickly. Attention to these details not only helps a business operate efficiently, but also creates a better experience for you, the consumer.

Courtesy of BPT
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Decorating any room can be very time consuming and demanding, as you want to get everything just right if you are to enjoy the finished project and achieve the look you want. The bathroom, although generally one of the smallest rooms in the house, is just as important as any other and should be allocated as much thought and time.

Lighting can be highly effective and instantly transform a room giving it that wow factor so many people want to achieve. Chandeliers, pendant lights, wall mounted spotlights and mirror lights come in all shapes and sizes and chosen carefully will make your bathroom one that you can enjoy spending time in.

If you need some inspiration then there are lots of places to find it, home decorating magazines and books can provide up-to-date ideas and designs, visit high street lighting stores or showrooms, or look online for lighting supplies.

When you think of the bathroom don't just see it as a place where you get clean, it can be much more than that. Many see it as a refuge where they can attend to their ablutions in privacy or chill out in a hot bath for a while with the door locked away from the hassles of the family, so comfort and lighting is essential if this is to be achieved.

Bathroom lighting can come from various sources and how you choose your fixtures will depend on your taste, the decor, and your budget. Economical and attractive ceiling lights come in a range of styles, from the simple flush light and semi-flush light styles to glitzy chandeliers. Using wall lights or spotlights in the bathroom gives you the ability to adjust them, direct them to highlight a certain area or particular feature you admire. Place a spotlight over a piece of art to draw attention to it, or over the mirror for extra light can be effective particularly for those bathrooms with no natural light.

Lighting around the mirror has to be quite bright as you need to see what you are doing, particularly when it comes to applying make-up and shaving, Led bulbs and halogen lamps are generally used in lighting fixtures for these purposes as they are bright but not glaring. Bathroom shower downlights are perfect for using in moist locations as they are manufactured to safety standards, choose from a range of polished stylish chrome or brass, or classic white with clear glass upper body for a sophisticated addition to your bathroom.

Illuminated shelf lights are a nice touch in the bathroom and come in a choice of colors and sizes, using the latest led technology they use minimum energy too. The glass is toughened for safety and slots into the aluminum back ballast, complete with a built in LED driver and LED strip they require no additional wiring. They can create a truly unique contemporary effect and enhance the environment with a soft glow.

A bathroom is also a place to escape to for some peace and quiet, where it's ok to lock the door on your other half and children. If your plan is to take long hot baths in the evening then soft and atmospheric lighting is going to be an important factor. If you have the space you could have a small table top lamp next to the bath or on a shelf to use as a softer lighting option instead of the brighter overhead light. You could even invite your partner into the bath with you and have a romantic evening together!

Never rush into choosing your lighting solutions, consider how the area can be seen to its best advantage through the use of different lighting effects. Online companies can give information and you'll get a good discount.

Search online and you'll find a huge choice of safety rated waterproof and showerproof lighting available and suitable for the bathroom as they have IP65 safety rating against moisture intrusion and dust ingression. Look for products that offer low voltage and mains voltage options, as well as the fire rated safety option.

by: Kathryn Dawson

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_5527.shtml
 
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DIY%20home%20improvement%20fixes%20You might not be aware that your home may pose some hidden risks for you and your family. But you don't need a fat budget to give your home a safer and healthier boost. After all, there is nothing more important than keeping your family safe.

Hazards may be lurking in your home, and for $100 or less, you can make the home improvement precautions needed to protect your family from common household dangers. Danny Lipford, home improvement expert and host of the nationally syndicated show "Today's Homeowner," recommends these budget-friendly DIY projects for a safer and healthier home:

* Mount smoke detectors: There should be a smoke detector on each floor and in or near every bedroom in the home. Installing them is as simple as mounting them 4 inches from the wall on the ceiling. Smoke rises, so opt to place the detector at the highest point of the ceiling if you have an angled ceiling.

Estimated cost: $30

* Install a water filter: If you're concerned about lead, VOCs, microbial cysts and pharmaceuticals in your tap water, or even if you just don't like the taste or smell of it, install a DIY water filtration system such as the High Performance Drinking Water System that comes with a dedicated faucet and will provide your family with cleaner, better tasting water.

Estimated cost: $100

* Secure heavy furniture and appliances: Children are susceptible to bookshelves, televisions or other furniture falling over and causing harm. Use furniture brackets or straps to secure dressers, the stove, audio equipment and more to the wall to ensure passersby are safe from falling and tipping items.

Estimated cost: $10 or more, depending on number needed

* Install carbon monoxide alarms: Carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas, is a result of improperly vented or defective home systems such as heaters, furnaces and fireplaces. Carbon monoxide does not rise to the ceiling like smoke, so the alarms can be mounted anywhere, such as plugged into wall outlets or affixed to walls and powered by batteries.

Estimated cost: $50

* Install a bathroom vent fan: Poor ventilation in the bathroom can lead to a buildup of excess moisture, which is a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Install a bathroom vent fan to push the moist air outside the home to avoid creating unhealthy conditions in the room, as well as fogged-up windows, steamy mirrors, and eventually ruined walls and ceilings.

Estimated cost: $100

For more information and other tips, visit FiltreteWater.com.

Courtesy of BPT
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How%20to%20stay%20naturally%20cool%20this%20summerIt's easy to overexert yourself during the inevitable summertime heat wave. Any common outdoor activity - such as gardening, sports, entertaining or vacationing - can quickly turn you into a sweaty mess when temperatures soar. Keeping cool isn't simply a matter of comfort, either; it's also a matter of safety.

Simple precautions can help you deal with heat and humidity. The key is to not interfere with the body's natural ability to keep cool:
 
* Wear white or light-colored fabrics to reflect radiant heat.
 
* Choose open-weave, loose-fitting cotton or linen clothing to allow airflow and evaporation.
 
* Shade your head, neck and face with a comfortable, wide-brimmed hat.
 
* Take breaks to rest, and avoid prolonged exertion.
 
* Regularly drink plenty of cool, non-alcoholic, caffeine-free beverages, plus the occasional sports drink to maintain electrolyte balance.
 
If you do become over-heated and are feeling the ill effects of high temperatures, take quick action to cool the body and rehydrate:
 
* Cease strenuous activity and get out of the sun.
 
* Drink fluids.
 
* Sit in front of a fan or in an air-conditioned room.
 
* Apply a cooling mist to exposed skin.
 
* Immerse yourself in a cool bath, or stand in a cool shower.
 
* Apply a cool compress to your head, face and neck.
 
Tom Havran, product specialist with Aura Cacia (www.auracacia.com), offers some recipes using essential oils to naturally enhance your efforts to keep cool in hot weather: 
 
Cool and Fresh Eucalyptus Body Mist
 
Ingredients:
4 ounces water
1 teaspoon plain vinegar or herb-infused vinegar (lavender, rose, peppermint, etc.)
12 drops eucalyptus essential oil
9 drops lavender essential oil
3 drops peppermint essential oil
 
Directions:
Combine all the ingredients in a spray mister bottle. Shake vigorously and mist the skin. 
Always shake well before use. Avoid eyes and sensitive areas. Store the bottle in the fridge or ice chest to heighten the cooling sensation.
 
Refreshing Peppermint Bath
 
Ingredients:1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon Epsom salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
5 drops peppermint essential oil
4 drops lavender essential oil
 
Directions:
Combine salts and baking soda in a small bowl. Sprinkle oils on salt mixture, and stir well. Dissolve into lukewarm bath. 
 
If you don't have time for a full bath, use this mix for a cool foot soak.
Cooling Lavender Compress
Ingredients:
Basin of cool water (approximately 4 cups)
12 drops lavender essential oil
9 drops peppermint essential oil
3 drops grapefruit essential oil
Soft facial cloth
 
Directions: 
Combine water and oils in a basin or bowl. Swish with cloth, wring out excess, and alternate placement on neck and forehead. Refresh the cloth often, and add a few ice cubes to the water to boost the cooling effect. Avoid getting in your eyes.
Visit www.auracacia.com for more essential oil solutions you can make yourself. Remember, essential oils are highly concentrated and should be kept out of reach of children and used only according to directions.


Courtesy of BPT
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A recent survey conducted by Desjardins Group as part of its Personal Finance Index found that most Canadian consumers know very little about insurance products. To measure their general understanding of these products, eight personal money management questions were added to this year's survey. The results indicated that:

• Only 44% knew that not all insurance policies come with surrender value

• 30% did not know whether their credit card comes with travel insurance, whereas 32% knew that it does but knew little about the coverage itself. 
 

In terms of other types of insurance, a third of respondents have refused a mortgage insurance product offered by a lending institution, without first assessing their financial situation or comparing costs with other mortgage insurance products available on the market. And less than half of the respondents showed a real understanding of how they were protected by their home insurance.

These results indicate that there remains a gap in the public's understanding of personal finance.

We asked Reh Bhanji, an insurance expert from Desjardins Financial Security for his assessment. "Clearly, there is still much we can do as financial advisors to help Canadians improve their financial knowledge," said Bhanji. "Of course, some people are uncomfortable to talk about money, but it actually can be fun. We have tools that help illustrate different scenarios which can help re-ignite a person's enthusiasm towards their finances and insurance coverage. And it's actually very important because it allows you to better manage life changes like a new addition to the family, a new home, a new job, etc."
 

What's the best way to start improving personal financial habits and to learn more about insurance?

One way is to sit down with a financial adviser or an insurance representative to discuss your current life, health and disability insurance needs. A properly trained representative will then suggest a suitable product that offers the best protection. You may be interested in trying the online self-evaluation tool available on the Desjardins Group's Co-opme Program website at www.desjardins.com/co-opme.

And here are two brief descriptions of some life insurance products to help get you started:
 

Permanent life insurance can be adapted to long-term goals and premiums can be paid as fixed amounts for the entire coverage period, in installments or in full in a certain number of years.
 

Universal life insurance is very flexible and totally conforms to your needs because you can add or remove features and increase or decrease premiums at any time. The savings component can be accessed anytime, barring any restrictions attached to the investment type, making this an ideal emergency or retirement fund.


For more information about these and other insurance products, visit the insurance product section of the Desjardins Financial Security website at www.desjardinslifeinsurance.com.



Courtesy of Newscanada
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Please visit our Open House at 15 MILLER BAY in OKOTOKS.
Open House on Sunday, September 1, 2013 1:00 pm OPEN HOUSE SEPT 1, 1:00-3:00
This custom built 3bedroom with option of 4th bedrm bungalow in Okotoks is Feng Shui designed. The home is calming, peaceful & relaxing. Located on a quiet friendly cul de sac on a 3rd acre! Prof landscaped yard has a maintenance free deck, hot tub, fire pit, shed, lots of trees, flowers & underground sprinklers. It's an oasis! Inside is stunning, loaded with the highest quality & upgrades. With it's sleek architecture, open floor plan and roughly 3290sq feet of living space this home is sure to please! Starting with beautiful vaulted ceilings, floor to ceiling windows, 2-fire places one is a 2-way, Brazilian cherry hardwood, porcelain tile, air conditioning, on demand hot water, granite, wired sound, ceramic counter top stove. Master suite is very large & private, the ensuite is elegant with granite counters & oversized shower. This home boasts a private loft/bedroom & or office with separate bathroom. The Lower level is an entertainers dream with full bar, huge family room, sports room & extra bedroom.
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