Brrr, there’s been a definite drop in the temperature this week (I’ve just put on my fingerless gloves for the first time). There’s condensation on our windows in the morning, despite the secondary glazing, and the reality of the coming winter is starting to dawn.
Even if it’s another mild one it makes sense to keep out draughts and retain as much heat in the house as possible. A good time to tell you about the thermal blinds made locally, an ingenious and unique solution for cold windows.
On a mellow early October afternoon I drove a couple of miles up the road to the pretty village of Great Elm, to find out more about Katy Duke’s home business The Thermal Blind Co. I met Katy at Jelly (an event where home workers work together for a day) a few years ago when her business was just starting out, and wanted to see the latest developments.
Katy and her architect husband bought the village Victorian school when it was derelict, and converted it themselves into a passive solar home while living in a caravan in the garden with two babies! It’s a characterful house, now surrounded by a peaceful, mature garden where we sat with mugs of tea while Bubble the cat wound around our legs.
Katy is a passionate climate change activist, trying to work out how we can live within the limits of our resources and reduce CO2 emissions. After being made redundant in 2009 she started experimenting with solving the heat loss problems of single glazed sash windows.
Her prototype blind hangs at the window in the kitchen window, where she ran her thermal modelling tests. She now sells made-to-measure thermal blinds that substantially reduce heat loss and remove down-draughts. They are traditional Roman blinds with a modern twist made from five layers of flexible fabrics, including Thinsulate insulation and Mylar (space blanket), and closely fit the window frame with powerful magnets.
Katy won the 2012 PEA (People & Environment Achievement) Award for the Best Energy Saving Idea, and was surprised and delighted to find herself mentioned in a Sunday Times article that said her thermal blinds are as effective as triple glazing.
Her first workshop was in the former outside toilet block, but this year she has invested in a large garden building known as The She Shed, where she makes the blinds with her part-time seamstress and multi-tasker, Demelza.
She has many coloured, textured and patterned fabrics to choose from, and has just started to offer thermal blinds made with your own fabric. The blinds are suitable for sash and non-sash windows and are supplied with all fixings.
If you send Katy a photo and the size of blind you require she will get back to you with a price. And she advises not to leave it until December to get a quote as now the temperature has dropped her order book is filling up fast!