The Sun in all its Brilliance

You only have to be on the sidelines of Saturday sports and you will hear people comment, “Isn’t that sun gorgeous!” as the sun rays warms their cold bones. Similarly, people will look for shade and welcome the breeze during those harsh summer months.

As humans we are quite skilful and able to harvest or take shelter when exposed to the elements. This brings us to an interesting point, that is, how many people actually consider the sun and breeze when thinking about their homes? In Sydney, we are blessed with a rather stable climate with an average annual temperature variation between 9-10oC, believe it or not. And speaking of harvesting, does one realise that a home can be warmed or cooled measurably if a little thought and experience were put into the home design?

Did you consider your home orientation to the sun and how many windows it had to the prevailing breeze, and whether your home has insulation? If you didn’t, all is not lost.

A simple breeze is sadly overlooked as a design element. On a hot summer afternoon, people in Sydney talk about that north easterly cooling coastal breeze or better still the afternoon southerly that pushes through occasionally after a hot summer’s day. Is your home able to open up and not only allow that breeze in but through your entire home, such that it takes the heat out of the building?

Even if your home faces due west and cooks during summer, a simple solution like planting a deciduous tree will allow that western sun to stream in during winter months but provide shade when the canopy is full during summer. The old fashion tilt blinds do a similar job providing shade and an air gap between the building and blind.

If your living room faces due north that’s brilliant, if the solar heat gain is controlled. We know the sun stands higher in the skyline during summer, so, sunshades where appropriate or a 600mm eave (in Sydney region) will shade an average wall height. But when the sun is lower in the sky during winter, the same solar heat gain is pleasantly welcomed. Now to help your home store the heat from the warm winter sun, we throw a little “thermal mass” and “insulation” into the building which are elements capable of absorbing, releasing heat and preventing heat loss respectively.

Simple design techniques are opportunistic, but are rarely spoken about or considered when doing a simple home renovation or extension. We recommend that clients make sure solar heat gain and cross ventilation systems are topics of conversation and ensure details are embedded into your home design that will benefit you and your family, now and into the future.