Many subdivisions and neighborhood developments are littered with homes built with the idea of maximizing land to building ratio. Most of these homes are likely to have the worst possible location and orientation to the sun’s blazing heat. By sheer luck, some homeowners will find their homes sitting at a near perfect position with respect to the sun’s travel. It is the path of the sun that sets the stage for choosing the direction your house should face.

Face south for solar gain and natural lighting
With known seasonal and directional patterns of the sun, taking advantage of the its heat energy is a key factor in deciding how to position your home on your property. In the winter months, the sun rises in the southeast. It travels low in the south sky from late morning to early evening. By late evening the sun begins to sets in the southwest. In the summer months, the sun rises in the northeast. It moves high across the south sky throughout the day and sets in the northwest in the late evening. Because the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, the side of the building that is utilized for solar gain needs to be facing the south to take maximum advantage of the sun’s potential energy and natural light. In most locations, depending on your geographic location, a slight orientation to the east is a better position to increase morning sun in the winter and minimize summer afternoon sun.

Family oriented living spaces should be the areas to benefit from facing south
Because the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, the side of the building that is utilized for solar gain needs to be facing the south to take maximum advantage of the sun’s potential energy and light source. The goal is to have the longest part of the building to face north and south while the narrow sides face east and west. Moreover, the rooms with the most daily activity should have the southern exposure. These rooms include the kitchen, breakfast, family room and master bedroom.

To maximize winter sun and summer shade, orient the home´s south face to within 10 degrees of true south. You should also choose a home site that receives full southern sun in winter and is unobstructed by trees, other buildings, or hillsides. Use deciduous trees along with the home’s roof overhang to help block the high summer sun while allowing for natural light and warm sun rays in the winter months.

A home’s site orientation is just as important as designing the floor plan layout. When used in conjunction with green design and sustainable site planning, the direction your house faces can provide many energy benefits throughout the life of the home.

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