Gone are the days where upon leaving the house for the day, you’d have to leave it locked up like a fortress – every window securely bolted and heat trapped inside. Danielle Bowling reports on the alternative.
Louvre windows have become an attractive alternative, especially in today’s society where energy efficiency is a major concern for both home owners and businesses. The fact that louvre windows can now be left open without threatening the security of the building makes them an even more appealing option.
Today’s louvres are made from aluminium, glass, timber or UPVC and come in a range of different colours and sizes. Peter Rust from Safetyline Jalousie says there are three main differences between standard louvre windows and those provided by Safetyline Jalousie.
“The first is security,” he says. “Because we have an aluminium louvre bearer holding the glass in place, you cannot pull the glass out, and even if you were to break the glass, you’d have to hacksaw through the louvre bearer to get in the window.
“We also have an optional extra, which is a stainless steel rod that goes in the louvre bearer, so it means if they cut through the aluminium louvre bearer and hit the stainless steel rod, it spins and you’ll never cut through it. We call it impenetrable security.”
Safetyline Jalousie’s louvres have a maximum width of 1.4m, as opposed to the standard 900 mm. Its louvres also have EPDM gaskets and brush seals on all four sides, which mean the air infiltration rating is zero, improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the property’s air-conditioning unit. Rust says installation is as simple as it would be for a standard window.
While security used to be a concern, especially in single-storey developments, louvres now offer just as much if not more security than standard windows, with Safetyline Jalousie installing the product in a number of public buildings, schools and even in a prison.
Louvres can be manually operated or automatic – either controlled by a wall switch, remote control or even integrated into a building’s management system so that if the air temperature reaches a certain point or it starts to rain, the windows will open/close automatically.
“We’ve used our louvre windows in some pubs and clubs in regards to the smoking laws,” Rust says, “because in a pub or club, if you have a fire, you’d want the windows to close automatically, so you have them connected to a smoke alarm so that if the alarm goes off, the windows automatically close.”
According to Breezway’s Liz Creagh, more and more people are citing energy efficiency as the main reason why they installed louvre windows in their property. Opening twice as wide as a regular window, louvres promote cross ventilation and increase the amount of natural light that enters the building.
“Because of their low infiltration rate, if you do decide to have air-conditioning installed in the home, they actually allow it to work more efficiently,” she says. “Also, when they're open they allow natural ventilation as well as let in light. So you’re reducing the artificial lighting that’s needed within the home and then also the reliance on airconditioning to keep the home at a comfortable temperature.
“There’s also the natural thermal chimney effect where if you’re installing louvres down low as well as up high, the high louvres allow the hot air to release and then the cool air filters in through the louvres below and then pushes that cold air up and around the home.”
Louvres are also easier to maintain than a regular window because when open, both sides of the window can be cleaned from the inside of the house.
Chris Vandyke Designs, a Queensland-based architectural firm, uses louvre windows as its standard window because they are particularly appropriate for developments in warm, tropical regions.
Mali Mali, a three-bedroom holiday retreat nestled atop Queensland’s Mount Somerset, was designed by principal Chris Vandyke, who incorporated louvres in every room of the house.
Why were louvres so suitable? “Purely for ventilation,” he says. “Sun shielding is another thing. You can half-close them to keep the sun out and still get terrific ventilation as well – they’ve got that added dual purpose.”
Vandyke says that while louvres have become more sophisticated over the past few years, some people are still unsure as to whether or not they are a good option for them.
“A lot of our clients are from the south or overseas and they don’t really understand louvres too much. In Sydney, they’re something you might put in your shed rather than your house and so sometimes it’s a bit hard to convince people that they're a suitable window,” he says.
“They think back to the old days where they used to be in steel frames and when you closed them they used to clatter about. Now they’re quite sophisticated and they’ve really made them quite weather sealing, which, in the old days, any drip of rain used to come straight through them, but now it’s got to be a cyclone or really strong winds before they’ll leak.”
Chris Vandyke Designs pays special attention to creating low impact buildings which utilise passive solar design and environmentally sustainable materials. The louvres used throughout the house have, according to Vandyke, completely removed the need for air-conditioning. 
“Houses like Mali Mali hardly ever use airconditioning. People who live up here soon get used to not having air-conditioning if the house is designed properly. Even though louvres can be more expensive to install than sliding windows, you save on air-conditioning, so they’re well worth using.”