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North, South, East, West. Which Is the Best Way to Face?

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Bill Primavera
Bill Primavera

By Bill Primavera

The orientation of a home – which way it faces – is something to be considered when house hunting. My home buying history involves three purchases. The first was a wonderful town home in the historic district of New York City, Brooklyn Heights. The second was a large historic home in upper Westchester, and my current residence is in a high-rise building in the same town in which I have lived for more than 40 years.

In my first two purchases, I confess that I never considered the orientation of the front of the house. In my case, I just fell in love with both homes and wanted them, no matter which way they faced. As I think about it, both my home in Brooklyn Heights and my first purchase in Westchester faced south, while my current condo residence faces east. In my last purchase, I did consider its orientation, and being in a large building, I had only two choices, east or west. I chose east, preferring to have the morning sun and the afternoon shade. More importantly, I liked the views of woods offered by windows facing east.

The orientation of a home may not necessarily register with buyers as something of importance when buying or building a home, however, it is important to maximizing energy efficiency. And, as a realtor, I’ve learned that it can be much more than that.

My very first buyer client insisted that I show him only homes that faced east. That involved some extra consideration on my part when researching listings. I just did as requested, but never considered the reasons why until recently. My research identified both the pros and cons of facing east. Here they are:

Pros: beautiful sunrises, lots of morning and early afternoon sunshine, rooms facing east in the winter mornings will be warmer, and windows facing west in the evening will have beautiful sunsets.

Cons: waking up early to sunlight if your bedroom faces that way, a lot of heat in summertime, rooms facing east will be darker in the late afternoon and evening so there would be a greater use of electricity.

If I were house shopping today, I would look for a home with a lot of windows in all directions, so I would be guaranteed good light and excellent cross circulation when windows are open. As I think about it now, when I was searching for a property in the country, I saw some homes that seemed dark inside, even with the lights on. Probably subconsciously I automatically rejected those homes. Now I know that orientation of the home can impact energy and how big my heating and air conditioning bills will be and how I will enjoy comfort in my home.

As a realtor, I now know that a poorly designed and orientated house will have key living areas shrouded in darkness, increasing the cost of running the place with lights having to stay on longer during the day, and it will cost more to keep it warm in colder weather.

At the same time, a well designed home will decrease its energy costs by using as much natural light as possible, in other words using Mother Nature to her full advantages!

You can utilize the amount of natural light, which comes into your property through a number of ways including skylights as well as windows. All of which makes it is a very good idea to have double glazed windows to help reduce heat loss.

Something else to consider if designing a two-story house is to have the stairs located on the northern side and large windows on the other sides of the house to capture as much of the sun’s natural heat.

When buying or designing a new home, always consider orientation and you will save on energy bills, increase lifestyle comfort and add value to your property.

Other considerations:

*Some people prefer front doors that face east or west so the north wind doesn’t directly hit the front or back door.

*If you want to wake up with the sunrise, you’d want your bedroom window facing east.

*If you sleep in (because you can or because you work nights), you’ll want your bedroom windows facing west, or you’ll want to install blackout curtains.

*Some people prefer homes that face east so their backyard faces west and can be used later into the evening.

*Others prefer the opposite, having the house face west so the backyard is facing east and benefits from the shade on a hot summer afternoon.

*You might prefer a house that faces an ordinal direction (NE, SE, NW, or SW) to avoid direct sunshine onto the front or back of the home.

*A tree line or berm can also help relieve the effects of direct sun or wind.

In summary, there are pros and cons about any direction a house may face, and each can be either enjoyed or mitigated.


Bill Primavera, while a publicist and journalist, is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. ( To take advantage of these dual areas of expertise, you can engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale. Just call (914)522-2076.


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