Windows vs. cardinal directions
While planning to build our dream home, we have to make a lot of important decisions, which influence later comfort of living. We start by choosing a plot of land, then look for a design, choose materials and a construction crew. Throughout the entire planning process, it is extremely important that the building is properly located; individual rooms and windows have to ensure optimal amount of sunlight and a good mood every day.
No one doubts that during selection of a design we have to plan all the issues related to window joinery. We focus our attention on the number of windows, their shape and arrangement so that it is functional and fits our furniture concept. Then, when buying windows, our attention is focused on parameters, quality of workmanship, colours and aesthetics.
It happens, however, that we omit one of the key factors - the exposure of windows to different parts of the world. We will focus on it in this section.
Windows facing north
Northern exposure of windows provides the lowest level of natural light. Rooms located in the northern parts of the house are therefore subject to lower temperatures all year round.
The northern side is perfect for bedrooms, when we do not want the sun to wake us up in the morning and like to sleep. The benefit of the bedroom facing north is also a reduced amount of heat in such room, which will positively affect comfort of our sleep.
Another solution is to arrange the northern room for your office. Even exposure throughout the day and lack of sharp sunshine make it convenient to work at a computer and do not make your eyesight so tired.
From the north side, we can also successfully plan a bathroom or a kitchen and a room in which we do not need good lighting, e.g. a utility room or pantry. This side is also an optimal choice when it comes to the entrance to the house or location of a garage door.
Due to heat loss, it is recommended to limit the size of windows on this side, and additionally we should select a glazing that features increased insulation properties.
Windows facing east
The rising sun does not heat our rooms as intensely as during rest of the day. For this reason, the eastern exposure is perfect for kitchens, where additional heat during the day is obtained from cooking and dining rooms - gently rays of morning sunlight falling through the window will ensure a good start to a day.
A bedroom with windows facing east is a solution for those who get up early in the morning. Otherwise, when arranging it in this part, it is good to have roller blinds. The advantage, however, is the fact that most of the day this room will not be exposed to much sunshine, so you could have a nap in there.
Windows facing south
Windows facing south will guarantee very good illumination within rooms. Southern exposure of glazing undoubtedly provides multiple benefits. A good solution is to plan your living room on this side. It is a room where we like to spend our free time, and additional sunshine will make our relaxation even more enjoyable.
It is also worth considering a children's room to the south as the sun has a positive impact on our mood, and in addition, natural light, especially in the autumn-winter period, will be a good idea for substituting artificial lighting during learning.
In particular, benefits of the southern exposure will be noticeable in winter, as the sun will warm up the rooms by up to several degrees and improve the energy balance of the building (by using appropriate windows).
However, it is not recommended to design the kitchen facing south, since we do not need additional heat there, and it is not advisable. Stove and oven already raise the temperature, so it is important to avoid additional heating by the sun.
An essential role in case of southern windows is also played by roof protrusions, balconies or pergolas, which regulate the degree of heating according to the season: in summer when the sun is high they provide necessary shade, in winter when the sun is low they help heat up the room.
Windows facing west
Western-window exposition will work well again for the living room where sunshine is most desirable. It is worth adding that the best solution in this case is a south-western exposition that provides natural daylight for most of the day; additionally, in winter it will provide a very favourable energy balance. In the summer, an important issue will be to shade the windows or limit part of the solar radiation, e.g. using roller blinds, blinds or curtains.
It will not be the best idea to arrange the office facing west, as the cumbersome light will adversely affect the comfort of work.
Western exposure is not a good choice also for the bedroom, especially in the summer, as warm and strong sunbeams will overheat the room just before bedtime.
A kitchen on this side will not be a good choice either, as it can unfortunately be very hot inside, especially if heat from the stove and sunshine is combined.
Exposure of a window vs. heat generation
Windows show worse thermal properties than walls, therefore it is believed that any additional glazing in the house makes a heat loss. However, we should keep in mind that except solar energy, light also permeates our house through the window. As a result, windows can generate heat and using more glazing will bring more benefits than losses. The prerequisite is to place the largest number of windows on the sunniest walls.
The angle of incidence is also important; it is different for different seasons. The rays should reach interiors as deep as possible, preferably when they reach the opposite wall, which is able to absorb more heat than the floor.
Trees are a natural and extremely effective way to maintain the optimum temperature. Deciduous trees and bushes are perfect for the south-western side in summer to retain some of the sunlight, while in winter, once the leaves have fallen off, they can be effectively lit and warmed up. Coniferous trees and bushes, on the other hand, should be visible from the north and north-east, where they can act as a barrier against cold wind mainly in winter.