There is little more pleasurable than basking in winter sunshine slivering through a glass window or door on a cold day. These magic moments have us following the lazy sun with lizard-like devotion and curling our toes in woolly socks with delight. But alas, as soon as the sun is cloaked by cloud or birds an early goodnight, the cold grips us and we look for ways to replicate that natural warmth.
It is the same windows and doors that invite the winter sun into our homes that are responsible for losing our homes’ warmth. Glass windows and doors lose and gain heat in four ways: thermal radiation, heat conduction, convection and air leakage.
Thermal radiation is the emission of electromagnetic waves from all matter that has a temperature greater than zero. It is due to this process that a clear glass window or door absorbs the warmth inside your home and then re-radiates it to the exterior.
Heat conduction is the flow of thermal energy from a higher temperature to a lower temperature. A clear glass window or door allows the flow of thermal energy through the glass to the exterior.
Heat convection is the natural process by which cool air moves downwards and warm air takes its place. Due to thermal radiation and heat conduction, the air near a clear glass window or door is cooled and due to convection is moving towards the floor hereby drawing more warm air from the room to take its place.
Air leakage is relatively self explainable; openings due to damaged or poor fitted windows and doors allow warm air to be lost to the exterior.
“South Africans love the outdoors and we are spoilt with so much natural beauty, therefore we design and build homes with fantastic glass windows and doors, often stretching the expanse of a wall, allowing for maximum views and natural outdoor – indoor flow,’ says Stephen Palmer, managing director of AMERICAN shutters. “ However the same focus placed on the aesthetic and lifestyle value of these openings should be placed on the ways in which they are insulated to ensure comfort and health.”
Once a home is built, we tend to prioritise decorating styles and standards on how we treat windows and doors. Traditional window dressings such as fabric curtains and security measures such as security gates do not always consider the massive heat loss that is facilitated by glass windows and doors.
Most thermal insulation materials are hidden and not considered in the interior design process such as ceiling insulation and underfloor heating. Others are not designed with decorating in mind, such as bulky gas heaters and awkward electric heaters that require mobility to match the indoor movement of the home’s occupants and they are an ongoing cost.
It makes perfect design, cost, thermal insulation and energy efficient sense to address the areas of a home that are responsible for the most heat loss, i.e. the windows and doors.
Shutters and blinds are the design choices of award-winning architects and interior designers because of a number of factors.
- They can be customised to suit and enhance any opening regardless of how unusual it may be: arched, triangular or domed.
- They translate well in all decorating styles, from classic to contemporary.
- They facilitate outdoor-indoor living, allowing for uninterrupted views, maximum ventilation and light.
“Added to the timeless style and beauty that shutters and blinds add to a home, they also add value to a property. Due to the very décor specific nature and transience of fabric window dressings, they are not considered fixtures, as are shutters and blinds. The investment made in opting for shutters and blinds is one that is rewarded when a property is valued and or sold,” says Karina Palmer, marketing director of AMERICAN shutters.
Now in the cooler months, perhaps the most appreciated value of shutters and blinds is their thermal insulation and energy efficiency. When opened shutters and blinds allow us to capture as much of the winter sunshine during the day and when closed they work to keep that warmth locked inside.
“In addition to our extensive range of wooden shutters and blinds, we offer a wide range of cellular blinds often referred to as honeycomb blinds. These blinds trap air in the pleated compartments of two or more layers of material, this air then serves as a buffer preventing heat loss,” says Karina Palmer. “Our no-compromise commitment to offering our clients the highest level of customisation and choice is consistent across all our products. Our cellular blinds come in myriad colours and styles; from cord to cordless, single to double layer, translucent to block-out.”
So savour and save the winter sunshine with shutters and blinds – the most stylish prevention of heat loss due to thermal radiation, heat conduction and convection.