Don’t sweat the heat just shut out the sun

Lowered Rolladen
Rolladens when closed can shut the heat out of your home

By Paul Hughes
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs

It is rarely hot enough in this country to invest in a central air conditioning system. However, when it does get blazing hot, the Germans revert to the use of cold hard steel; aka Rolladens.

If you live on the economy, you probably have steel or aluminum Rolladen shutters on the outside of your windows. These robust window fixtures roll down to cover and protect your windows against wind, rain, fire, theft, and your home against the blazing heat.

The Rolladens work by shutting out the sun’s rays that would otherwise pour through your windows, heating the air and any surface it hits. By shutting out these rays with a wall of steel, you will reduce the overall temperature in your home.

Here’s how to reduce your home’s internal temperature:

  1. Open windows and shutters during the coolest part of the day, typically between 4-8 a.m. to allow fresh air to flow in and the hot air to leave
  2. Heat rises, so open any top-level windows and ensure internal doors are open to allow the warm air to rise and escape
  3. Before the temperature begins to rise, after 8 or 9 a.m., close all windows to trap in the cool air.
  4. Now lower your shutters – particularly on the windows that are facing the sun – this will block out the intense rays and UV radiation. You can close them fully, or leave them “cracked” with small holes to allow some light and air to enter
  5. If you choose to leave a window cracked for air flow, this should be on the “shady” side of your house if possible
  6. Repeat this process each day to keep your home at a reasonable temperature.

Even if you are using a portable A/C unit, it is a good practice to open all the windows and shutters fully every morning; this ensures your air stays fresh and allows cool air into the apartment.

Building exterior showing lowered and raised rolladen
A typical example of rolladen fitted to the windows of a new apartment build.

Community member Aimee Eleanor – who lives on the economy – has mastered her technique and hasn’t had to use her A/C yet this year, she wrote on a community Facebook page:

“We open everything up (The windows,) after it gets dark. Then in the morning, we close things down,” Eleanor said.

Eleanor monitors each room when possible and opens or closes windows and shutters based on the position of the sun. “If I won’t be home all day, I just close everything,” Eleanor added.

Unfortunately, Rolladen shutters are not fitted to on-post housing units, but you can achieve a similar effect by blocking the sunlight from entering your home.

Drawing your curtains or blinds is a start and beyond that, you can buy reflective film products you apply to windows. In a desperate pinch, anything reflective such as foil will help deflect the sun’s rays and knock a few degrees off of your home’s internal temperature.

The CDC provides an in-depth fact sheet about staying cool and preventing heat injury.