Eaves and shading
When it comes to maintaining a comfortable temperature inside your home, it pays to think about how sun hits your windows. Windows are one of the most significant elements in your home’s heat gain and loss.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to protect your home from the heat is by properly shading your windows, particularly those on the north face of your house.
What are eaves?
Eaves are the extension of the roof over the side of the house. These can play a crucial role in regulating the amount of sunlight admitted into your home at different times of the year. If eaves are correctly designed, they will block summer sun (which sits higher in the sky) while still admitting winter sun (which sits lower in the sky).
Eaves and orientation
If at all possible, you should build or choose a home that takes orientation into account. The orientation of your home relates to the way it is positioned on your block of land. A carefully oriented home in the cooler southern states of Australia will exclude hot summer sun and take advantage of breezes and winter sunlight.
Correct orientation will depend largely on your local climate, but as a general rule, a house that runs 15°W-20°E of true or 'solar' north is considered to have an ideal orientation. The size of your eaves will depend on where in Australia you're building - if you live up north, you're likely to need eaves that keep the sun out year round. Ask your local council about how deep your eaves should be.
Homes without eaves
Not all homes have eaves. Some styles are built without them, sometimes as a means of making better use of narrow house blocks. Roofs that incorporate eaves are heavier than those without. As a result, the inclusion of eaves on a home is a major design consideration that also affects the other load bearing elements like the walls and sub floor. In most cases, eaves are not simply an optional extra - they need to be accounted for at the design stage for your home.
Alternatives to eaves
Homes designed to suit the climate in most parts of Australia should ideally include a roof with eaves. If your home does not have eaves though, there are some alternative methods for protecting your windows from the sun. These include:
- Other fixed shading (e.g. awnings or pergolas)
- Shading with plants
- Solar films for windows
- Low emissivity windows