The Future… Perhaps

Making predictions is a notoriously tricky business (just ask the Met Office). We can’t know for sure what the world will look like in a year’s time or in five year’s time. It is the same with houses – we can take an educated guess as to what the home of the future might look like but we cannot know for sure.

Even though concrete predictions are near impossible, a sense of what might happen in our lives and the types of homes we might be living in can be gauged from current directions of travel. We can, for example, safely predict that new technologies will play an increasingly important role in our lives.

Increasing technology use will, of course, require increased energy sources to power them. And it is here that we may find the biggest impact on the design and construction of the homes of the future.

Fossil fuels will not last forever. No one seems to know exactly how long they will last but it’s safe to say that the traditional resources we have relied on are finite and will, at some unknown point in the future, be exhausted. It is for this reason (and because of the potentially harmful elements that fossil fuels emit) that new sources of energy are being discovered and tapped.

One of the most recognisable forms of renewable energy is solar. We have all seen houses with solar panels on their roofs. The panels work by converting solar energy to power that can be used in the home via photovoltaic cells. If there is a shortcoming with domestic solar power collection, it is this: the panels collect energy during the day when the sun is shining (and when most people are out of their homes at work).

This means that the power gathered through the day is fed into the grid, the power that homeowners need in the evening is drawn back out of the grid. In effect a market is created between homeowner and energy company where both parties are, at different times of the day, seller and buyer.  This will change with the introduction of solar batteries that store the energy produced from panels during the daytime for use during the evening, thus reducing the amount of energy homeowners will need to buy from the grid.

So what will the homes of the future look like?

As a recent article on the BBC News website  described, storage batteries for domestic use are already in production. It may well be that new homes in a few years time come with solar tiles as standard, doors and window frames might be painted with solar capturing photovoltaic paint and storage batteries may be as commonplace as washing machines.