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The future of smart homes

Words by Charlotte Moxon

No matter the era, the contemporary home has been built with the intention of tackling the social need of the day. In Victorian times, high-density terraced housing accommodated the growing working class; in 2020, the smart home meets the technology-driven needs of today’s citizens.

With sustainability and eco-friendliness being a key decision factor when buying new property, what will the home of tomorrow look like, and how will it weather environmental challenges? We examine the possibilities…

Smart tech for smart people

The future home is likely to hold all manner of technology-controlled features designed to make everyday living easier. The Internet of Things, or the network that allows everyday devices to connect and share data, has transformed our homes. Whether it’s providing AI-driven alarm and security systems, controlling the temperature, electricity use and lighting or simply following programmed routines to help you keep a stocked fridge, smart homes will be able to anticipate needs before homeowners are even aware of them.

Environmentally friendly and energy efficient

The way homes in the future will be built and maintained is likely to be dramatically different from the past.

New ways of building will come to the fore. Core structural elements, such as steel and wood, can be made with recycled or reclaimed materials to avoid cutting down new trees and creating a larger carbon footprint. New materials, such as bamboo and pre-cast concrete over a wire mesh, can be moulded into new buildings in a way that’s eco-friendly and will stand the test of time.

Properties may even look to the past for ways of futureproofing against the elements; straw bales and sheep’s wool, sourced sustainably and in a cruelty-free way, can help to conserve heat without impacting the environment.

In terms of powering these new buildings, new technology – such as biomass boilers and photovoltaic (PV) panels – will be used to provide warmth and energy. Harnessing the power of natural gas and thermal energy, as well as capturing waste heat and water vapour, will help properties to be energy efficient.

Socially conscious

It’s not just technology that will be environmentally friendly – interior design will be more socially conscious. Responsible brands, creating low-impact, sustainable items to furnish your home will become more popular. With production worker rights and ethical concerns about plant and animal products, the way we decorate our homes will be more thoughtful in future.

Not only that, but the way we clean and maintain our homes will change. Eco-friendly and cruelty-free products are now available to use instead of damaging chemical alternatives; in future, it’s likely we will have to take a more measured approach to how we use plastics and other non-recyclable items out of necessity, rather than just personal choice.

The smarter home for a new world

The way we live is changing, and for the better. Though there are new concerns about privacy and safety, there are net benefits to the environmentally conscious home of the future.

For examples of current homes with a futuristic vision, take a look at these examples. The Old Vicarage has a wind turbine and solar panels, Pleshey Grange benefits from solar thermal and photovoltaic panels plus air source heat pumps. Bramley Cottage in Ascot is a newly built home which draws on the latest in eco technology and gadgets. The house benefits from up-to-date technology to satisfy the needs of a modern lifestyle and includes under-floor heating throughout, MVHR (mechanical ventilation with heat recovery), Sonos audio system, smart lighting, automated blinds and keyless door entry.

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