By October 22, 2012 Read More →

Unusual home working jobs – the thermal blind maker

Home working but different!

Work from Home Wisdom - unusual home working jobs - Katy DukeAt this time of year home working gets distinctly chilly, and this week’s unusual home worker fits the season perfectly:

Hi Katy, how did you start making thermal blinds?
I spent most of my career as a project manager and working with old buildings but at heart I’m a climate change activist, trying to work out how we can live within the limits of our resources & reduce CO2 emissions.
When I was made redundant in 2009 I started experimenting with solving the heat loss problems of single glazed sash windows (a bit of a fascination since the oil crisis in the 80’s).
I don’t quite recall how the eureka moment of the magnets came to me but once I’d sourced the incredibly powerful (but tiny) magnets, and worked out how these could be combined with ‘space blanket’ & Thinsulate, I just HAD to start making the thermal blinds. 

Where do you make the blinds?
We live in a village just outside Frome and converted the village Victorian school from derelict into a passive solar home.  My prototype blind hangs in the kitchen, where I’ve run the thermal modelling tests, and my workshop is in the converted school toilets at the bottom of the garden. Its a joy to wander down there, get away from the housework & phone, turn on the radio & get on with the manufacturing.

I think you’ve had some nice accolades – tell us about those
Yes, I had a very unexpected article in the Sunday Times which said my blinds are as effective as triple glazing.
More recently I won the 2012 PEA (People & Environment Achievement) Award for the Best Energy Saving Idea, judged by Tony Juniper, Friends of the Earth director Joe Jenkins and others. [That’s Katy with her award above].

What are the good points about home working?
I have a school aged daughter who gets a school bus to & from home, so for me home working enables me to be here for her yet carry on working. I also love being able to take time out if I want to, being alone, wearing slobby clothes, listening to loud music.

Anything you dislike about home working?
I miss the camaraderie of office life sometimes. I work anytime of day, evenings and weekends which is not necessarily a good thing!

Any advice for home workers who are manufacturing at home?

Make sure you find a local support network (eg. Jelly / Chamber of Commerce). Buy in the services or tasks you don’t like doing, eg. cleaning, book-keeping (I don’t take my own advice here!).
Find a way of marketing your product without having to ask people to come to your home (I go to shows & rely mostly on online marketing).
Get help from others when you are confident that you’ve found the best way of making the product – I’m planning some ‘making workshops’ to find home workers and to enable them to make up their own blinds in kit form. 

Find out more about staying warm with Katy’s unique thermal blinds at The Thermal Blind Company.

Enjoyed this? Check out more unusual home working jobs.

7 Comments on "Unusual home working jobs – the thermal blind maker"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. It’s great that I read about these thermal blinds. I would certainly want one of these. It’s amazing how people can come up with ingenious solutions when they are suddenly unencumbered with mundane yet necessary things like work.

  2. I have single glazed sash windows. 4 big ones.

    I’d like to know what happens with the condensation. Currently the black out blinds allow some ventilation.

  3. Hi Rosie,

    Good question. The blinds have magnets on every fold & every lift, so between these there is a trickle of ventilation. However, the temperature between the blind & glass will be lower than if you didn’t have a blind, so in warm rooms where you have condensation this may be worse than without blinds.

    I’d recommend making sure that your window is in good condition, draughtstripped & well painted. As you inevitably open & close the blind there is usually plenty of ventilation to drive away overnight condensation during the day. The back of the blind is high quality uv resistant ‘1 pass’ blackout polycotton and so is hardwearing. If there is a chance of black mould growth then a spray protection could be useful.

    There are also proprietary ‘dessicant’ absorbers which could be used in extreme situations.

    I must put a Q&A section on the blog to include these questions that I’m often asked. Thanks.


  4. Probably not for me then. I live in a small flat with humidity levels being a constant issue from autumn to spring. We have a dehumidifier it’s that bad (no actual structural issues, just 2 people in very small flat with huge bay window).

    It’s good to know they’re there though as it’s easy to pay a lot for a not very good blind and yours look well worth the money.

    • Judy says:

      We lived in a house with original Victorian windows during that really cold winter a couple of years ago, and couldn’t wait to leave. Couldn’t believe how much condensation there was. As soon as you mopped it up it came back.

  5. Katy Duke says:

    Condensation is one of those ‘issues’ for many old homes. They key to resolving it lies in 3 things, heating, insulation & ventilation. It occurs when moisture-laden air hits a cold surface & the vapour condenses. So increasing any or all of those 3 things can help.

    The thermal blinds help by increasing the insulation and thereby retaining more of your precious heat. This in turn means that there is less likelihood of the condensation happening in the room. I haven’t done any field test to be sure but if the blinds are down then this should also help the warm air from hitting the glass & condensing.

  6. Thank you! Looking up that article now.