12th August 2015
Our homes have come a long way in 40 years, microwaves, satellite television and the internet have all helped develop our homes into technological hubs. Whilst the interior is continually changing, the way our homes are built and powered have remained barely unchanged, but what about the next 40 years?
Are the days of bricks and motor soon to be behind us? The recent rise in 3d printing popularity has allowed the market to draw in new investment and innovation. We’ve already seen the first couple of 3D printed house take form and companies are racing to produce 3D printers that will print entire estates onsite.
The 3D printing revolution has a number of benefits for the UK’s current housing crisis:
Currently the 3D construction printers use a mixture of materials to form a concrete like substance which is used to build the structure. The walls are hollow, much like current homes, for insulation purposes and are filled with corrugated support structures. It’s thought this new form of construction has the same resilience and load capacity as current methods.
There is no doubt among engineers and designers that sustainable energy is a must for any future dwelling, the challenge is finding a suitable alternative to the fossil fuelled gas guzzerlers of current houses. It’s thought that 90% of the UK energy needs could be supplied by renewable sources as early as 2030 and with the price of technology falling and oil costs rising, it can’t be long before our homes are turned into their own mini power stations.
Solar panel producers are beginning to experiment with ever more flexible alternatives to the current, chunky, panels which can be seen loitering on roofs throughout the country. Spray on ‘quantum dots’ will be applied to almost any surface as a thin film like layer, harnessing not just direct sunlight but also the UV rays for added efficiency.
Solar and wind power are by far the most accessible renewable energy options to the average home owner. Unfortunately the UK climate makes the supply of sun and wind intermittent and unreliable, and even on a good day the power demand falls outside of the peak solar supply. To tackle this issue, Tesla Motors have developed a home battery to store energy, ready for use in peak times.
The Tesla Powerwall captures power from either localised renewable sources or from the mains. If the Powerwall is charging from the mains it can be programmed to absorb power when the energy rates are at their lowest, giving the homeowner power at peak times for minimal rates. The Powerwall also resolves one of the biggest issues with solar power, often the power generated peaks at midday when the least electrical energy is used. The Powerwall comes with a 10kWh version which is specifically designed for solar power users to allow a longer storage period.
It’s important to know what risks your home poses to you so that you can implement suitable forms of protection. The most common protection for home owners is buildings and contents insurance. From a buildings point of view, new risk comes from how the houses will be constructed. When new processes and materials are used to build a property, it can make certain perils more severe, for example, if a house was 3D printed in one complete piece it may be prone to catastrophic damage as a result of subsidence due to it being less flexible. Consumer renewable energy sources do not come cheap, they also lie outside the protection of the home meaning they are at increased risk of theft or vandalism.
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