Monday, August 25, 2014

Shutter Up! (25-Aug-2014)

One of 10 doors leading to a patio
 with full length shutters
I have yet to see a house in France without working shutters. Unlike the U.S. where shutters on many houses are for aesthetics only, shutters in France are used on a daily basis and serve the following purposes:

Privacy: You won't walk down a residential street during an evening in France and be able to look into a kitchen or living room of the houses you are walking by. In fact in many neighborhoods the houses are behind a fence or tall bushes. French people are very private and shutters are normally be closed in the evening when the family is inside. If they are open in the morning then you know your neighbors are awake and up and about.

Regulate Temperature: Shutters play a very important role in keeping the house comfortable. Very few houses have air conditioning. We live in the South of France where temperatures are mild compared to my home state of Iowa but I was a little nervous about living here without air conditioning. So far the summer of 2014 has been extremely pleasant but we did have a stretch of  few days where temperatures were in the 90's (F.).

Very large sliding doors/shutters
leading to main patio
To manage the heat we opened up the house in the morning when it was cool. But as soon as the sun started to shine in a window we closed the shutters up for the rest of the day. This causes the house to be a little dark but does a very good job of keeping the house cool. We do have a couple of osculating fans that we used in the living room and bedroom for a couple of days, but I have to admit we really didn't need an air conditioner.

In winter the thick shutters help to keep the cold out. The opposite technique is used. The shutters remain closed when the sun is not shining and opened to allow the sun to heat the house. If it is very windy and cold the shutters can be kept closed to keep out drafts.

Regulate Noise: When you completely shut up the house you have a whole new level of quiet. Since we live just outside of town our house is very quiet at night.

Example of metal lock
for full door shutters.
Security: When we leave for a day or longer we always make sure all of the shutters are closed and latched. Closing them at night, especially when I'm in the house alone, also ads an extra layer of security. When you shut the shutters in most of our rooms you use a larger solid metal handle that turns and locks into place. When you close it, a long metal rod the length of the door secures at both the top and bottom

Our house has at least ten doors with shutters that close up with solid wood doors, 3 large windows that we can draw the shutters across or turn a handle to bring the shutters down. Small windows in our kitchen, bathrooms and laundry room don't have shutters.

The first night we were here it was quite and adventure to go around the entire house and close everything up.

Windows also don't have screens. This is one thing I would change in at least a few areas if I could. It would be nice to keep the flies and tiny lizards out when we want to let the air in.

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