I never knew that shutters actually served a purpose. In the U.S., they seemed to be mere decoration on a certain kind of colonial-style home. I had never seen them actually DO something.
On moving here, I developed a close relationship with our shutters. In winter, they work wonders at warming the house when the north wind howls. The inch-thick wood not only insulates on its own, but it also seals the air between the shutters and the windows. And where the windows maybe aren’t as tight, it keeps out the wind. So I reach out to shut six pairs of shutters every night, and reopen them every morning. It’s no fun when the rain is pelting down, but I only have to stick out my head for a second per window.
In the summer, the shutters are even more important. I close them at an angle (see the photos above) on the east, so the morning sun doesn’t heat the house. The windows on the west are open to let in the cool morning air. Once the temperature rises, I shut all the windows and keep the cool air in. When the sun has passed to the west side of the house, I reopen the shutters on the east, and crack shut those on the west. The hardware is cleverly designed (see below) so that the lock holds the shutters firmly with a two- or three-inch gap, letting a shaft of light come in but not enough to create a greenhouse effect on the glass.
The house is a good 10 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the outside temp in the summer, thanks to the shutter dance. It’s kind of a hassle, opening and closing morning, noon and night, but it doesn’t cost a penny and doesn’t pollute. Most people just leave them all shut all day while they’re at work.
Some people have electric shutters, above, which aren’t as pretty nor as insulating. But they do help, are good for places like high-floor apartments where you don’t want to lean out to grab a shutter in the wind, and you can adjust the amount of light coming in.
Some old-fashioned wood shutters have old-fashioned accoutrements, such as detailed little female busts, wearing hats, who flip up to hold shutters in place. I’d love to know the story behind them!