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  • Writer's picturePengfei Yang

Go North and Face the Sun

How can you have free energy?

If you're building a home in Tasmania, you might want to consider going north. I didn't mean going 'overseas' across Bass Strait kind of north, that would be too mean. What I'm going to talk about is the north-facing homes in Tasmania.

Tasmania is known for its cooler climate, particularly in the winter months (does snow in December count for winter?), and it's not uncommon for homes to feel chilly (yeah, tell me about it!) during this time.

What can we do about it? Except for wearing shorts, bennies, and Uggs, wrapped with classic Tassie uniform - puffy jackets, and of course, paying premium electricity bills. One of the answers is to collect free energy by facing windows to the north to warm you up from the sun. So, what are the benefits?

Energy efficiency and home comfort

North-facing is the way to go, cobber. Let’s take some notes about the benefit of ‘going north’:

  • If your home faces north, you can take advantage of the sun's natural warmth and light to keep your home cosy and bright without having to rely as much on artificial heating and lighting.

  • North-facing homes (which are often desirable for habitable spaces) in Tasmania can save you up to 25% on your energy bills compared to a south-facing home. If the site for the building is tricky, prioritising living/kitchen/rumpus areas to the north can also help because they are normally the largest and most used space during the day in a house and will require more energy.

  • North-facing windows in Tassie can receive up to 50-70% of the available solar radiation, meaning they can provide a significant source of energy for your home.

  • Not only will a north-facing home save you money on your energy bills, but it will also have a reduced environmental impact by using natural resources instead of relying on artificial heating and lighting.

  • Your wallet (and the planet) will thank you!

Orientation and NatHERS Energy Assessment

Yeah, I know this is the boring stuff, but it is the process every new build will be going through, right?

So, what’s the relationship between those two? A north-facing orientation is one of the key factors that is considered when calculating a NatHERS rating, it is like the Vegemite on your toast - it's essential! In fact, homes that are designed with a north-facing orientation are often able to achieve higher NatHERS ratings than homes with other orientations.

If you are not keen on a higher rating, that’s fine. Let me tell you, you will save thousands of bucks on your building costs just by positioning your project the right way because it is way easier to help you get the certificate than going in other directions. One of our clients saved $12,000 in window costs just by doing that!

But don't go throwing a shrimp on the barbie just yet, mate. A north-facing orientation is just one piece of the pie. You'll also need to consider other factors like insulation, glazing, shading, and ventilation, those will be discussed another day.

Also, just to put a kind reminder, the NatHERS (Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme) energy assessment is not only about obtaining a certificate. Its primary goal is to provide a comprehensive analysis of a building's thermal performance and energy efficiency. Only a well-considered design can receive it!

North is not the end

So, there you have it! In Tassie, maybe not all, facing north is big deal. If you want to make your home energy-efficient and snag that NatHERS certificate, make sure you work with a qualified architect or building designer who can help you get the job done right. Also, remember to engage with an accredited energy assessor as earlier as possible and let them work together with your design teams, this will ensure you receive the best possible outcomes without choosing expensive building materials and/or changing the designs. Trust me, non of the assessors wants to do that.

To taste the benefit of a comfortable and energy-efficient home needs a lot of time and consideration. At least, facing north is a less challenging step you can take. It helps to soak up that sweet, sweet natural sunlight and warmth, which means you can say "see ya later" to those gnarly energy bills. And who doesn't want a little extra sunshine in their life?

Northern sunlights. Image Credit: Midjourney AI


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