Q-When I visited Europe, I saw attractive rolling window shutters. They
worked great for blocking heat and cold and as security against storms and thieves.
Would they work well here in the U.S.?-Ann F.
A-Yes, they do work well in the U.S. too. Rolling window shutters have
been popular in Europe (with their extremely high energy costs) and along the
hurricane-prone regions of the U.S. for many years. When they are rolled up and
completely opened, rolling shutters are totally hidden from view, so you are probably
not aware of how many homes have them already.
Now, with more concern about security, energy savings, tornado/hurricane
protection, and privacy with today's smaller lots, rolling shutters are becoming
popular throughout the entire U.S. Without sacrificing security and privacy,
rolling shutters allow you to still have efficient natural ventilation and daylight
through your windows.
If you have never seen rolling shutters over windows, patio doors, or
porches on a house, they are quite attractive. They are available in many colors
and slat shapes and sizes, and are custom-designed to fit each window or door
opening perfectly. Custom ones can even be made to fit new contemporary-shaped
windows like arched, triangular, and trapezoidal.
Installing rolling shutters saves money in several ways. The slats (many
of the hollow ones are filled with foam insulation) create an insulating dead-air
space outside your window glass to lower both heating and cooling bills. This
improves single-pane window efficiency by about 65% and double-pane window efficiency
by about 50%. The protection from the elements also reduces window and door
maintenance and can increase their lives.
Most rolling shutters are made of many horizontal 1.5- to 2-inch-high
durable insulating slats that operate similar to an old rolltop desk. The ends
of the slats slide into small, but strong, channels that are attached to the
sides of the outdoor window opening. In retrofitting an existing house, the
slats roll up into a long narrow housing that is hidden under the roof overhang.
In new construction, the housing can be hidden inside the roof soffit.
For convenience and security, you open and close the shutters from indoors.
The least expensive method, usually for only small to standard-size windows,
uses a small indoor strap to operate the shutter. The strap comes indoors at
the top through a small sealed hole in the wall and it operates smoothly and
For rolling shutters on standard to larger windows or doors, an optional
indoor hand-crank mechanism is often used. This is very durable and makes it
easy to open the shutter precisely as much as you want. For very large shutters,
or for extra convenience, an electric drive motor, built into the housing, is
used to raise and lower the rolling shutter.
If you select a motor drive option and you plan to install shutters
on several windows/ doors, consider one with hand-held, remote controls, just
like on your TV. Timers and sensors (for sun, wind, or rain) can also automatically
close shutters when you are away from home.
The basic slat material options (in increasing cost) are PVC plastic,
rolled aluminum with insulation, and extruded aluminum. Insulated rolled aluminum
is tougher than PVC for greater wind and impact resistance. Extruded aluminum
slats are the strongest, but they are heavier and are not usually filled with