The orientation of a house to the sun has a dramatic impact on the building's solar gain capability. Orienting a building and its interior suitably facilitates passive solar heating. Heat from the sun is absorbed into the building through the walls, windows, and fabric. This can eliminate the need for auxiliary heating and increase the overall energy efficiency by reducing heating costs.
It is important to consider orientation when purchasing a new property, when constructing a new building, or when making renovations to an existing building. How do you ensure that your property is correctly oriented for maximum passive solar heating and energy efficiency? Here are some pointers.
Choosing a site
Selecting an ideal construction site is the first step towards passive home heating. You should consider the amount of sun that the site receives, especially during the winter. The site should be flat or sloping towards the direction, and there should be no obstructions such as tall buildings. It should also be able to accommodate a building with larger walls, windows, or glazing facing the direction of the sun.
Selection of building materials
Some materials are good absorbers of heat, and such should be used on a building's structure to maximize solar gain. Dense solid materials such as concrete, bricks, and tiles have high thermal mass. They can retain a lot of heat when it's hot, and release it during the cooler parts of the day. Such materials should be used for walls and floors for maximum solar gain and subsequent heating.
Positioning of rooms
Proper orientation should be such that the majority of sunlight strikes the side that is the greatest structural area of the building. Commonly used rooms such as the living room, lounge, entertainment room, kitchen, and outdoor spaces should the side with maximum exposure to the sun. Rooms that are used less often such as garages, bathrooms, and laundries should face the opposite side.
Location of windows
Windows are the greatest direct form of solar gain. Their size and orientation have significant effects on the passive heating capabilities of a building. Large windows allow a bigger surface area for absorption of the sun's heat. Such windows should be strategically placed to receive maximum sun radiation during the winter.
Glazing can be used to absorb or repel heat. For maximum solar gain, choose the ideal type of glazing that will allow heat from the sun into the building. For maximum efficiency, have more glazing facing the direction of the morning sun, but less of it on the side facing the midday sun. This will avoid overheating from the late afternoon sun.
With this information, you can be able to orient your building for passive solar heating and increased energy efficiency within your building.