Whilst I’m very confident that we are nowhere near peak oil, it would be negligent of us to use it unnecessarily through waste and inefficiency. I’m not advocating banning 4x4s or cars, bikes or any other form of current oil/petrol use, let’s be very clear about that. No this is about using what we have better which should save resources and more critically save us all money at the same time. If we use less we pay less.
Travelling apart, we use energy to heat our homes which are pretty inefficient. New homes have to comply with environmental codes, which set energy use targets for builders. At the moment this is an expensive add-on although you could argue that buyers will reap the benefits of the saving gained through reduced energy bills in the longer term.
This doesn’t really address the main issues of hugely improved energy efficiency. A house, a factory or an office block is built to a price and the design and subsequent cost is pretty much reliant on using off the shelf components, which are a standard size and/or quality. As soon as the design veers away from standard the price goes up. If you watch Grand Designs you will be familiar with this. If you are familiar with the Scottish Parliament you will also be familiar with this. It is not unusual for statement buildings to go over budget significantly because so much of their design is non-standard and proves more costly to manufacture and then build.
Are you familiar with the old Volvo 740? Have a look here and you’ll recognise a design by a man who only had a ruler. No French curves, no compasses, nothing, which would allow divergence from a straight line. Now look at your house, not the furnishings and fittings the actual rooms. How many curved lines do you see? Very few. Curves cost.
So we end up spending our lives in a series of rectangular boxes. We heat the boxes using radiators on the walls, fires at floor level and sometimes under floor heating. Since heat rises it’s a continuous challenge to heat more air so the temperature remains comfortable.
You may be familiar with the Teletubbies. Their home has more curves. I don’t think there’s an episode, which deals with their energy costs, which is a pity. The dome design, which is covered in earth, is much more efficient than a traditionally designed and built house.
I can even provide an actual design, which you could rush out, buy and build although it might well be expensive. Roger Dean of the YES albums and stage sets has designed a “Home for Life”.
Anyway, our homes should be designed to be more interesting to look at, fun to live in and be cheap to heat. Smaller but rounder rooms with an earth covering would do it. But that would cost money. Well yes and need a million other things changed to make it happen.
Meantime we want to stay warm in a cheap manner.
So… why can’t we just heat us? Do we need to heat the room or do we need to heat us? Probably both depending on circumstances so any solution would have to provide both. There may be times when we would be undressed like in the shower or whilst we get dressed or for recreational purposes so we’d need radiated heat then but this would be only for short periods of time or much less time heating a room or rooms at present.
Heating us shouldn’t need to be complicated or expensive should it? How many people are wearing more clothes in their home now to reduce the heating bill? Quite a few. So we have started down that route. We don’t want to end up like eskimos though, dressed in skins from head to foot.
No, we need something simple, portable, light, and easy to use. It would keep us warm no matter where we were. So for example you could use it whilst you watched a football match in January. Nipping out on a cold evening would be much more pleasant. It would work in your car too. Maybe it could be developed for keeping us cool too although it would have to look cool also.
I’ve even come up with a slogan – “Heat people not air”. You know I really must get out more!
There are very simple examples. Hand warmer thingies. You know you hold them in your plan or they are in your pocket with your hand in it. So something like that but scaled up or some sort of wearable electric blanket tailored in an appealing manner.
Start writing to your MPs straight away. Windmills would be a thing of the past, oops they are already. The future is personal heating systems.
Other people have come up with other ideas. Passive homes are warm and only use the energy required to run a hair dryer. How dull is that? The houses look like the same old ones we have now. How dull is that?
No the future is bold housing with curves along with personal central heating.