Shutters, Curtains and Blinds


The 19th century residents of Cheltenham loved their windows but felt the heat loss through them as keenly as we do. Their response was to install shutters, a method that remains an excellent means of reducing heat loss in traditional buildings today. As this video by Historic England explores, wooden shutters can perform as well as modern double glazing in keeping the heat in at night. Shutters are also valuable in protecting privacy, reducing noise pollution (and light pollution at night) and enhancing security. They can also be used to keep the heat out on particularly hot summer days.

If your home has original shutters, make the most of them. Close them as soon as the light falls or earlier if you are not using the room. Shutters take a bit of effort to use well on a daily basis but their adaptability is their strength – you can open and close them as your needs and the light conditions change across the day and the season.

If your shutters have been neglected or painted into their casements, consider bringing them back to life. Their repair and restoration will reduce heat loss and enhance the character and value of your home. You may need professional help from a carpenter to achieve this. You need to be sure that they operate smoothly and fit snugly with no draughts.

The reinstatement of shutters that have long since disappeared from your home is inevitably a more expensive process. If you do make this investment, ensure that your new shutters are built to keep the heat in as well as the noise out. Specify tongue and groove junctions between the panels so that the shutters close tightly without gaps to let the draughts through. However, even the best shutters cannot keep out the draughts altogether, so it is best to draught-proof your windows as well.

 Curtains and blinds

Like shutters, curtains and blinds can play an important role in keeping the heat in as well as protecting privacy. However, their effectiveness depends on the materials used and how well they protect the window.

Heavy curtains will reduce heat loss through a window by around 40%. As far as possible, they should be hung with no gaps around them through which draughts can flow. This is difficult to achieve completely but avoid obvious gaps such as the one between the bottom of curtains and a window sill or floor. Hang the curtains overa-roller-thermal-blind-to-keep-the-heat-in-effectively-blinds-need-to-be-made-of-a-reasonably-heavy-material-and-fit-snugly-against-the-window-frame the sill or ensure the hem of the curtains rests on the sill or floor. Thermal interlining can be added to curtains in order to maximise their insulating effect.

Blinds can be just as effective as curtains, or more so, if they are fitted tightly against or within the window frame. If you want to keep the heat in, avoid blinds with holes in them such as thin fabric or slatted venetian blinds. Insulating blinds with a reflective surface facing outwards can reduce heat loss by over 50%. Some thermal blinds now have a honeycomb structure to trap a layer of air within their pleats, acting as an effective insulator.