Most inhabited regions of Australia have coastal to tropical climate, so lots of sunshine and high humidity. We don’t get much rainfall though. 80% of our land mass receives maybe 600mm of rain the entire year, with 50% getting even less rain, at 300mm annually. Our temperatures generally range from 30°C averages in summer and roughly 15°C during winter. We don’t get much snow in Australia, except maybe in the Alps of Victoria, a popular ski resort. That same region faces extremes of heat in the summer, over 48°C.
Many Australian homes have swimming pools – partly because so many of us live in coastal regions, and partly because our predominant heat makes that relaxing dip a necessity. Plus, with pool technology advancing every day, it’s now much more affordable to install a pool. It takes less than a day to put in above-ground pools, and if you do the installation yourself (as seen on YouTube), you could spend well below $3,000 for the entire endeavour.
Still, as summer approaches, certain expenses are likely to go up. Since our summer falls during the holiday season, we’re likely to have a lot more guests. There are friends and relatives coming home for Christmas / Hanukah / Thanksgiving / Kwanzaa. Then there are the regular migratory humans running away from their white winters. Either way, between heat and entertainment, the pool will get a lot more use, so it will need to be vacuumed, shocked, and replenished more often. It’s boom season for the pool guy.
And unfortunately, as much as you may want to, you can’t stay outdoors all day. Eventually, darkness, bugs, and sleep will lure you back indoors. Once you’re under your roof, the heat can feel oppressive. You’re likely to have the air conditioning on for the bulk of summer, and those bills can really pile up. On the upside, there are a few things you can do to lower your cooling expenditure, and they’re both related to windows.
You could opt to leave them open longer, allowing fresh air to come in. But sometimes, the air out there is warmer than what you have inside, so ‘unlatching the glass’ has minimal effect. You could replace your solid panes with louvred ones, giving you a bit more flexibility, especially if you support the glass with mesh screens that keep the bugs out. But if you’re committed to tweaking your windows, you may as well go all the way to roller shutters.
These window dressings / door options are often praised for their ability to manage temperature challenges. But the context most frequently cited is insulation. A popular type comprises two aluminium panels with foam between, and the shutters use multiple interlocking slats, each built in this tri-layered formula. The insulation acts as a barrier in case of fire, whether it’s bush-fire from outside or domestic flames from inside. It can act as a flame retardant, making your shutters resistant to infernos.
Safe from the outdoors
Roller shutters can withstand other natural disasters too, including tornados, earthquakes, and twisters, so they’re a standard feature in areas where this frequently happens. They’re not always waterproof though, so floodwaters might get in. Many contractors bypass this vulnerability using rubber to re-inforce the bottom slat, creating a barrier against water that may try to seep in. But in the context of scorching Aussie summers, the focus is on the cooling powers of roller shutters. This mostly works by raising the shutters themselves.
When a shutter is used as a door (on a garage or alfresco area), it’s usually the only thing separating your space from the outdoors. So when it gets too hot, you just open the shutters and let the potentially cool breeze in … or the hot internal air out. These kinds of spaces are frequently fenced in using mini-view shutters that alternate opaque aluminium slats with see-through polycarbonate ones. They allow for natural light to come in, making the most of the sunlight (and its attendant heat). Set the shutters to rise electronically or by remote.
On the other hand, when roller shutters are installed in your windows, they’re positioned on the outside of the glass. This means you can lower the heat in stages. Insulated slats prevent internal heat from seeping out and external warmth from coming on. So raising your window shutters begins to lower the temperature. If it’s still too hot, you can open the windows. And if the lack of cloud cover makes the nights too chilly, your insulation shutters help you stay warm without cranking the AC too low. Roller shutters come in multiple colours with ultraviolet protection, so you could select a lighter shade to lower your home heat settings.