Window dressings for hot weather

Abi Clewley

BY Abi Clewley

Published: 07 June 2023 Updated: 15 May 2024

Warm sunny days are a joy to behold – until your home becomes too hot to enjoy. Read on for our wide range of solutions and top tips for hot weather and you’ll be cool, calm and collected before you know it.

The different challenges

Why do our rooms get so hot in summer? Should you open the window or leave it closed? Should you cover the window totally or use a specialist window covering? How do you balance natural light with controlling the heat? What are the best window coverings in summer? There’s so many questions around warm weather window coverings, but luckily, we have just as many answers.

TS 2021 MOL SHUTTERS BEDROOM INCIDENTAL1 (1)

Why a room gets hot in summer

The sun delivers about 1,400 watts of power to a square meter of the Earth at noon, when it’s roughly at the highest point in the sky, when it’s at its strongest.

The vast majority of the light energy from the sun that makes it to the surface is in the infrared, visible and ultraviolet spectrum. Ordinary glass is relatively opaque to infrared and ultraviolet, so it's the visible light that is doing the heating. The visible light comes through the glass, is absorbed by the interior of the room, and then any emitted infrared light is unable to shine back out and remains trapped inside. Hour upon hour, this heat accumulates with no release, which is why a room is much more hot at the end of the day than at the beginning.

Do shutters keep a room cool?

Shutters are a really good choice in summer window treatments, because they work on many different levels to keep your home cool.

Wooden shutters are a popular choice, as wood is a natural insulator and can absorb a lot of the summer heat right at the window, before the hot air even makes it into the room. Because there are so many different styles to choose from you have that additional choice too – from both an aesthetic and a practical point of view.

The other great benefit of shutters is that you can open a window behind the shutter and keep the shutter closed but the louvres open, and you’ll benefit from the cool air of any breeze outside.

TS Burleyshapedshutters Railings Extendedliving R2 Set3 Shot2 Main 1 RT

Specialist blinds

Pleated blinds may seem a surprisingly low-tech choice for summer window coverings but certain versions are coated with a special coating to help reduce unwanted solar heat. This coating makes them highly reflective, sending the sun’s rays back through the window rather than into the room. For this reason they’re a popular choice for large expanses of glass, including conservatories, where you can also have them shaped for the roof, and electrically controlled, either by remote, or via an app on your phone. The original cellular shades, Duette blinds are honeycomb shades that work in both heating seasons and cooling seasons. Warm air is trapped in air pockets for an increased thermal performance, so in winter it stops the air you've spent money creating from escaping, while in the summer it stops the warm air from the sunlight going into the room. They're also a very effective weapon against glare, an irritation in the summer months.

TS PLEATED SHAPED ROOF CONS STONECRUSH (1)

Wood blinds

These traditional blinds offer a halfway compromise between shutters and blinds, and they’re a surprisingly effect weapon in the fight for heat control. Wooden blinds offer insulating properties on a par with wooden shutters and they’re a great alternative if you’re unable to have shutters for any reason. The natural wood absorbs the rays to reduce heat gain while the louvres can be tilted to let some light in. Of course, if you need some direct sunlight then you can simply raise the blind to the desired point quickly and easily and flood the room with light. A window treatment that looks great and performs really well, it’s surprisingly often overlooked.

TS Wood Venetians Stone 1280Px (1)

Awnings

A section on awnings is possibly not what you were expecting to see in the midst of discussing window treatments but there’s a couple of reasons why we feel it’s an important solution to talk about.

Firstly, an awning allows you to create a whole extra room outside of your home’s interior, and it’s a really versatile space that can be used for a considerable portion of the year and not just summer.

But one of the benefits of an awning, and the reason we’re raising it here, is because when it’s extended, it’s not only creating shade outside for you to sit under and enjoy – it’s also shading the room inside too, regardless of what window covering you have in the room, helping to reduce glare in the summer months. The fabrics used offer UV protection too, so they can filter out these harmful rays before they even hit the window and help keep your home cool. For maximum effectiveness, extend the awning early in the morning before the sunlight really has a lot of warmth, and you'll keep that area, both inside and out, nice and cool throughout the entire day.

TS AWNINGS 2020 LINBY MINISTRIPE CELADON

What other considerations are there?

So we’ve looked at the different window coverings you can choose, but are there additional factors at play?

Colours

It may surprise you to know that colours can make a difference as to how effective your window treatments are, but really, you instinctively know this. In summer, you dress in white or pastels to keep cool, because lighter colours combat the summer heat better than dark colours. White is the best colour to reflect the sun’s rays – it’s why Stevenson boxes are painted white – simply because white reflects all wavelengths of light, so the light isn’t converted to heat the way it would normally be. So where possible, opt for white at your window and you'll increase the heat gain of any window treatment.

Moodboard in green, teal and blue tones with paint samples, fabric samples and shutter samples in cream.

Plants

Pop a few plants into a room and you may be surprised by the difference. Why? Because of photosynthesis. The oxygen levels that plants put back into a room may be relatively small, but in a hot room any fresh air is better than none. And they can happily take the C02 out the room to photosynthesise even if they’re not in direct sunlight, so you can keep your window coverings as they are.

TS DUETTE THERMAL POWER CONS DEEPBALSAM 2

What else can I do?

So your room is just the way you want it, with the perfect window treatments, and you're even dressed in white and surrounded by plants - but you still feel like you're suffocating. We've got a few more practical things you can try.

Window strategy

Try creating a cross breeze. Certain types of window are more effective when trying to cross ventilate a room than others — top hung windows and sash windows are ideal. As hot air rises, by opening the lower section of a window on the side of the house the breeze is coming from and then the top half of the opposite window, any warm air that has gathered towards the top of the room will be forced out.

Flick the switch

Turn off any appliances not in use – all appliances give off heat when turned on and that heat small though it may be to each individual item will accumulate throughout the day, so turn them off. Your wallet will thank you for it too. And the same goes for lights – turn them off if you don’t absolutely need them. The type of bulb has an impact on how much heat is given off, but all bulbs radiate heat, which isn’t helpful in the heights of summer. Conventional incandescent light bulbs generate light quite inefficiently, instead giving up to 90% of their energy as wasted heat. We often turn lights on out of habit, rather than need.

In summary - summer window coverings

When it comes to summer, there's a wide choice of options for you to choose from to get the best window coverings for your home. Your primary target is to reduce heat gain, whether that's by blocking sunlight with Roman shades, choosing to reflect heat with coated blinds or balancing light and heat with louvred shutters. In addition to window treatments, think about colour, air flow and reducing heat producing streams and you'll be on track for a cooler summer.

Related Articles

Considerations when choosing between blinds and shutters

Making the kitchen the heart of your home

Wooden Shutters vs Vinyl Shutters

Dress your window for their shape

8 Do's and Don'ts for Maintaining your Conservatory

What Are the Different Types of Blinds?