Article by Cheryl McKenna – Office Manager, and licensed estate agent.
North, south, east, west? Which aspect is the best?
In many a real estate write up you will read “boasting a northerly aspect”, but what does this mean, and why is a northerly aspect so desirable?
Essentially, a house with the main living area and/or garden facing north will maximise the natural light as the sun moves from east to west. This access to sunlight can dramatically affect the inside temperature, letting the light shine in throughout the seasons.
With energy efficiency being of growing importance to the wider community in our current climate of increasing electricity costs and greater awareness of environmental impacts of fossil fuels, to be able to heat your home using the free energy of the sun is a boon! But what about the curtains and carpet that can become faded by excessive sunlight? And the delicate indoor plants!
And what if your home doesn’t face north?
ALL aspects have something to offer – sunrises, sunsets, views; to each their own.
East facing aspect.
The rooms of the easterly facing home will receive beautiful morning sunlight and bear witness to many amazing sunrises. What better place to read the morning paper with a cup of tea? Easterly facing rooms are also a particular favourite of many indoor plants.
South facing aspect.
Well everyone in Warrnambool knows where the best views are – SOUTH! When you have the spectacular Southern Ocean at your (south facing) door, home owners want to make the most of any glimpse they can. This may come at a cost for those south facing rooms – these rooms receive little sunlight, so striking a balance between enjoying the view and pulling in as much natural light as possible can be tricky. The use of internal glass windows can help draw light through from the north to the south.
West facing aspect.
Aside from the fact that this is the only direction that you are going to be able to watch the sun go down, the west facing home will receive much near-horizontal sunlight in the afternoons; a winter warmer for sure, but also an unwelcome summer warmer. But with a well-angled awning this intense light can be diffused.
West facing homes can also make the most of this intense light with selective plantings of deciduous trees – a green, lush, shade for the summer time, and allowing the meeker filtered winter sunshine through the bare branches; mother nature always provides a solution!
Ways to maximise the light
For those of us who don’t have a northerly aspect, don’t despair! There are many ways that we can welcome the great sun god into our homes.
Sky lights are a great way of letting the sun shine into any part of your home, and create the illusion of height in a room.
Using internal windows or glass bricks in the place of a wall will allow rooms to share the light.
Clerestories (windows placed well above eye level) can allow much natural light into a room, while maximising privacy, as do windows with an opaque finish, a great option for bathrooms or bedrooms on a south side.
Make lighting a feature of darker areas, and use large windows where you can.
A mirror placed in a darker corner can multiply limited light, and sticking with light paint colours, highly reflective surfaces and lighter flooring colours will also make the most of any natural light in a non-northerly facing room.
If I had the luxury of choice I’d have floor to ceiling windows in EVERY room, with skylights in EVERY ceiling , and probably internal glass windows in EVERY wall inside, surrounded by lush greenery to all sides, but I’d still like to see the ocean please. Sometimes the aspect of your home doesn’t really matter!