Window shutters are a valuable addition to any home, adding a unique style that will last the ages. Available in a wide assortment of styles, materials and colours, designers and home owners are left with no shortage of choice when deciding on which shutters are best suited to their project.

Beyond the aesthetic appeal, shutters play a crucial role in the comfort of a home. The amount of light, air and heat allowed in and out can all be significantly impacted by the type of shutter specified.

With the cost of electricity in Australia at an all-time high, and sustainability a key element of modern design, the thermal performance of a shutter is one of the most important considerations in the specification process.

As glass windows possess virtually no insulation qualities, heat easily escapes in winter and radiates inwards in summer, causing an over reliance on heaters and air conditioners. The addition of shutters essentially create a barrier that results in notably improved insulation – hence the oft-recited ‘warmer in winter, cooler in summer’ mantra of so many window covering companies.

However, not all materials are created equal, and as such not all window shutters provide the same level of insulation.

While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and debate over style starts and ends with personal preference, the conversation regarding thermal properties of different shutter materials has been far more contentious, with claims from all corners that their shutter is best.

A recent study from The University of Newcastle School of Engineering compared the most popular types of window coverings in regards to thermal performance, with performance measured by the percentage of temperature difference achieved by each.

The study involved the testing of a range of windows covering types, including shutters, blind and curtains, and a range of different materials including polystyrene, aluminium, basswood, thermo PVS and western red cedar.

While some results were already foregone conclusion (don’t rely on curtains for insulation), the performance of other popular materials may surprise.