“Light. . .is .”
|Rule No. 1: Living areas should face south or nearly so.|
The rules for good solar orientation are simple, easy to implement, and have been recognized for thousands of years. If you’re house hunting, or especially if you’re planning a new home, pay scrupulous attention to solar orientation before you worry about built-in ironing boards and all that.
• The first rule of orientation: The windows of living areas should generally face south. Not necessarily due south, but close enough to get direct sunlight (or "insolation", in technical jargon). Southern orientation of living areas warms your home in the winter and brings in plenty of natural light. Given identical floor plans, it can make the difference between a warm, inviting home and a dark and miserable one.
|A Real Loser: Never, ever face outdoor living areas|
to the north. They won't get used.
And by the way, the roof isn't helping any.
• Minimize north-facing windows. Since sunlight seldom reaches north walls, north-facing windows effectively contribute zero solar heat gain; meanwhile, they radiate lots of heat outdoors, making for cold rooms. All in all, a lousy deal. So whenever possible, relegate north-facing spaces to utility areas like the garage, laundry, pantry, bathrooms, and so on.
|Mmm, I can smell the bacon frying.|
Who could resist eating breakfast here?
• Orient specialized areas according to their time of use. For example, a breakfast room should face east or southeast so it’ll get plenty of morning sun. A deck that you plan to use mainly in the afternoon should face southwest or west to get afternoon sun. Orient the kitchen according to the time of day when it’ll get the most use: east for mornings, west for afternoons, south for general all-day use. If bright sun helps wake you up in the morning, face your bedroom east, and so forth. These rules may seem obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many homes have rooms that get sun at all the wrong times (or worse, no direct sun at all).
|No one could possibly oversleep in a sunny|
bedroom like this one.
• Remember that the sun’s altitude isn’t constant during the day. Morning and late afternoon sun comes in at a lower angle and requires special attention to shading to avoid uncomfortable glare.
• Finally, while real-life conditions like views, street access, and terrain may dictate some compromises in orientation, don’t stray too far from the basics. You might be left in the dark.