Blinds Up: The Importance of Window Shading and Orientation

WindowsThe orientation of the windows and of the house itself is an important consideration from the beginning of the design process.  Other than that, layout and location are also significant areas of concern. These three aspects influence the amount of sun that the house will receive for maximum energy efficiency and comfort. Designers should always prioritize these in order to reduce the potential energy consumption of the homeowners.

Importance of Window Orientation and Shading

Window orientation and shading are two key strategies that can increase a home’s energy efficiency and optimize the home’s overall presentation and performance.  They also lengthen the service life of windows and protect the home from seasonal changes.

These design strategies also reduce the environmental impact of your home. It is a means of making the most out of renewable energy sources such as passive heating and cooling from the sun and the wind.

Orientation Strategies

For maximum solar gain, the home’s orientation will vary depending on the topographical features of the location. The designer should always take into account how seasonal changes influence comfort. Placement of windows will also depend on the location of shade elements such as trees and neighboring structures, vehicle access and parking, wind speed and direction and the house’s relationship to the street.

While the top priority of strategic window placement and house orientation is to maximize solar gain for passive heating and cooling, other design considerations should include noise control, day-lighting, ventilation, privacy, indoor and outdoor flow and the owner’s preferences.

Shading Strategies

Suburban Glass Service, Inc says that shading is an important strategy in protecting glass windows from the sun. Beyond aesthetics, the primary role of exterior shading is to catch the light from the sun and reflect some of it away from the window. Radiation and air borne convection currents then carry away the heat absorbed by the exterior shading. Exterior shading strategies include shutters, exterior roll blinds, awnings, trellis and vines, porches, and sunscreens. Trees may also serve as natural shading for windows.

Interior shading, such as pull-down roller shades or dual shade systems, is also an effective strategy in protecting windows from the sun. The advantage to having an interior shading is that it is operable to suit the needs of the homeowner and control the degree of solar radiation incident on the window.

Any architect or contractor should know the importance of window orientation and shading. By following these strategies, they will add value to the home and to the comfort of homeowners. If the house receives passive heating and cooling most of the year, homeowners can cut their energy costs and reduce their home’s impact to the environment.