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Ever visited a house in winter and felt it is warmer than another house? Or cooler in summer? The reason why some houses are colder in winters and warmer in summers could be because of orientation.

What is orientation?

Orientation is the placement of rooms, spaces, windows and doors in your house at an angle that will maximize natural elements at the right time of the year. Your home can miss out on critical light if it is orientated the wrong way. Poor orientation often occurs when a house is built without any consideration to the topography of the land and to the individual property. Good orientation ensures the home stays warm during winter and cool during summer, reducing your energy bills. So, it doesn’t matter if you’re building your main house or a granny flat, orientation must be considered right from the design stage.

How to ensure the orientation is good?

A good orientation takes into consideration the local climate, position of the sun at different seasons and the wind variations. Orientation of the house influences how much sun the building gets and a good orientation ensures a comfortable temperature all year round.

A good orientation captures the winter sun from the northern hemisphere, helping the home to heat up faster. Placing windows and doors in the northern parts of the house (instead of east or west) captures the low winter sun and warms up the rooms, while keeping out the high, harsh summer sun. You can also consider building the most used rooms such as living, dining and kitchen in the northern parts.

What determines the orientation?

Apart from the topography and layout of your existing house, orientation is also influenced by wind direction and strength – especially in country side, neighboring houses and buildings, parking and trees. Humidity is also another factor that must be considered. Waterfront properties will have a different requirement based on the humidity, breeze and winds.

Design considerations for good orientation

Sustainable design is based on good orientation. Sustainable design is designing the house with minimal use of energy for heating or cooling. As mentioned above, north facing windows and doors are one of the important design considerations. Few other considerations include:

  • Appropriate use of glazing – avoid over use.
  • Consider the size of windows.
  • Consider incorporating shades in the east/ west windows or glass doors for minimal heat penetration.
  • If your house’s north has an alfresco, consider getting adjustable shade that can be pulled back during winters for better sun.
  • Service areas or minimal use areas such as laundry, garage can be located in the south.

The design of the house should draw from the topography, climate and orientation for it to be sustainable and efficient. This will have a huge impact on not just the heating and cooling costs, but also the basic comforts. Your granny flat can miss out on a lot of natural elements if it is orientated the wrong way.

Read more about orientation! 

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