Where a house sits on a block is as important as its position in a neighbourhood, according to First National Real Estate chief executive, Ray Ellis.
“People tend to focus on whether a house meets their needs in terms of its size and number of bedrooms and bathrooms” Mr Ellis said.
“But making the effort to find a house that is well placed on its block, in terms of its orientation, can save money on minimising the need for major structural improvements as well as energy bills. This is because a home that has good orientation will be far more energy efficient and comfortable to live in.”
The priority for a homebuyer in a hot and humid area should be a property that keeps out as much direct sun as possible but has maximum exposure to any cooling breezes, Mr Ellis said.
“For most locations, true north facing sites are the best buy because generally they receive good access to northern sun in the winter months,” Mr Ellis said. 
“This allows for passive heating and cooling opportunities to be maximised, which will deliver lower energy bills and reduced greenhouse emissions.”
According to First National Real Estate, there are a number of specific details to consider when house hunting.
·       Floor plan. Living areas should face the right way to take full advantage of winter sun and cooling summer breezes. “If they don’t, look at whether you would be able to easily swap some room uses around without having to get into a full-scale renovation,” Mr Ellis said. “Visit the home you are considering at different times of the day to properly judge how it adapts to changes in light and temperature.”
·       Location of utility areas. If utility areas such as laundries and bathrooms are placed to the south, west or east of living areas, they will provide a buffer from summer sun and winter winds.  “If areas that use hot water are grouped together you’ll also be minimizing water wastage and heat loss from pipes, which is another bonus,” Mr Ellis said.  
·       Bedrooms. West facing bedrooms can become very hot in summer and might mean air-conditioning is necessary. “East facing bedrooms are the best, as they catch the morning sun but are cooler on summer nights,” Mr Ellis said. “If bedrooms do face west, look at whether you could easily install shading or awning.”

·       Outdoor areas. North-facing outdoor areas are ideal but wherever outdoor areas are located, look at the shading that is available or what you could add to make sure they are usable through all seasons at different times of the day.
·       Ventilation. Check that the home has good cross-ventilation. “Look for wide doors and windows that can be fully opened to breezes,” Mr Ellis said. “Rooms that have openings on more than one side are ideal. If the orientation is poor, look at whether it would be easy to install windows and events to create convection currents for cooling.”
·       Floor plan. Check that you can close off rooms easily, to avoid having to heat or cool areas when they’re not in use. “The big open-plan family room has become a feature of any renovated home,” Mr Ellis said. “The down side is that they are rarely energy efficient, unless they are specifically designed to take full advantage of the sun’s position in summer and winter. Ideally, any large living area should be able to be divided into zones or areas with screening or glass so heating or cooling can be used efficiently.”
Mr Ellis said more house buyers should make the effort to look for home that has good orientation or could easily be adapted for improved orientation.
“Do your research and add orientation to the list of key features you’re looking for,” Mr Ellis said. “It may not seem particularly glamorous but it will ultimately add more to the quality of life in a new home than any other feature.”   

Posted by First National Real Estate
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