A simplified 1-D numerical model of a window and horizontal Venetian blind assembly has been developed. This model provides a realistic estimate of the advantage of using blinds to control the window heat gain or loss. The free convective heat transfer rate from an isothermal vertical surface adjacent to a set of horizontal louvres has been studied numerically. This configuration is an approximate model of an indoor window glazing with a Venetian-type blind. Knowledge of the effect of blinds on the free convection at the indoor window surface is important for understanding and predicting the impact of shading devices on the overall thermal performance of a window. The convective heat transfer results are used in the one-dimensional model of the complete fenestration system to study the effect on key performance parameters. The results show that louvred blinds can have a significant beneficial effect on window thermal performance.