Not too hot, not too cold – just right

Madelin HayesThe West Australian
Branksome by Weststyle at City Beach.
Camera IconBranksome by Weststyle at City Beach. Credit: Joel Barbitta/D-Max Photography.

If you have ever wondered why some houses are freezing in winter and boiling in summer, it is likely the home’s orientation has a lot to do with it.

New Homes spoke with Weststyle Lead Architect Mary Ong about getting your home’s orientation right to achieve a passive design.

According to Ms Ong, how you orientate your home will differ according to the local climate and the amount and type of window glazing you have.

“The path of the sun in Australia is to the north, so to capture as much winter sun as possible, the living areas of your home are best orientated to face north, with sufficient eaves or pergola shading from the summer sun, as it sits higher in the sky,” she said.

Ms Ong said principles of good orientation were based on the understanding of your local climate, sun angles, optimising architectural design and window placement.

“Consider the orientation of your home in relation to the sun’s path – the type of light and heat that will enter the building at a particular time can have a significant effect on your comfort and give you the ability to regulate your home’s internal temperatures,” she said.

“Orientation also examines your block’s wind patterns, which

aids in cooling the building.”

For an overall lighter and climate-efficient space, Ms Ong said the size, positioning, glaze and treatment of windows was key.

“As well as the placement of windows, treatment of the glass is also important – options include low emissivity, double glazing and tinting,” she said.

“Engaging with an energy consultant is important, they will advise you of the amount of glazing allowable in each room.

“The challenge we frequently face is wanting more glass than is allowable for each room – this challenge is often overcome by increasing insulation requirements, increasing the specification of glass type and appropriate external shading devices.”

Instead of rugging up in your Oodie over winter, Ms Ong said capturing the winter sun through passive design acted as a source of free home heating.

Branksome by Weststyle at City Beach.
Camera IconBranksome by Weststyle at City Beach. Credit: Joel Barbitta/D-Max Photography.

“To warm your home in the cooler months, it is important to maximise northern exposure of walls and windows, while reducing east and west exposure to avoid overheating in summer,” she said. “Placing operable windows facing north-west will capture warmer prevailing winds.”

Indoor and outdoor connectivity also work to capture warmth in winter or a cooling breeze in summer.

“North-facing windows will capture warmth during the winter months,” Ms Ong said.

“Passive heating is usually easily achieved by locating living spaces – indoor and outdoor – to the north, so the low angle of the winter sun can enter these spaces.”

“Shade from the summer sun on the north is easily managed by implementing horizontal shading devices.”

As an example of efficient orientation, the Branksome custom build by Weststyle is a contemporary home with generous spaces that capitalise on natural light and ventilation, achieving an eight-star energy rating thanks to passive solar design principles.

“Our Branksome custom build showcases a great example of large windows to embrace the winter sun, with an extensive roof cover to protect from the higher summer sun,” Ms Ong said.

CONTACT Weststyle, 9345 1565,

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