Houses warmed without the need for traditional heating systems are already here. So are robot vacuum cleaners. There’s plenty more to come, with a quiet revolution transforming how we live in our homes.
Homes built to the German Passivhaus
– in English, passive house – standard are so well insulated and airtight that fuel bills are a fraction of those for conventional buildings.
According to the official Passivhaus website, 'the Passivhaus standards strengths lie in the simplicity of its approach; build a house that has an excellent thermal performance, exceptional airtightness with mechanical ventilation'.
Passivhaus cornerstones have made their mark on the energy efficiency of UK homes already, and home improvers and extenders can reap the benefits.
'The basic requirements of building regulations have changed tremendously in recent years, and the products on the market have improved to meet them,' says Hugo Tugman (@hugotugman
), founder of Architect Your Home
'The insulating and airtight qualities of most windows, hot water systems, floor and wall insulation, and many more items are far better than they were a decade ago.'
Building design and architecture
Aside from falling for the charms of bifolding doors and open-plan layouts, homeowners’ tastes have remained orthodox up to now, according to Tugman, but a change is on its way.
'In the next decade, we are going to see much more cutting-edge contemporary design, particularly as it becomes increasingly difficult for traditional construction to meet the rising environmental and energy standards,' he says.
The evolution of residential architecture has a back-to-the-future twist: wood is changing the face of housebuilding in the form of panels made entirely or partially from timber. Factory-created, these panels speed up construction and, with fewer joints, make for a more airtight building.
Inside the house, media screens will become part of the fabric rather than freestanding or mounted additions. Rightmove’s Home of the Future
predicts windows that double as screens, allowing you to check your social media, watch films, catch up on the news – or even just get a better view.
Smart appliances and gadgets
Everyday household items such as electricity meters and thermostats have been transformed by the Internet of Things, which connects appliances so they can send and receive data online to your phone or even other connected devices automatically.
For example, a digital thermostat that knows when you leave home – like those from Nest
– could help you save money on your energy bills.
Other useful innovations have been previewed at consumer electronics and technology events such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
'Samsung has designed a fridge with a built-in webcam that allows you to peek in via an app, so you can check remotely what you need to replenish on the way home,' says Matt Symons, partner at Tillman Domotics
. 'And Laundroid is bringing out the first ever automatic laundry-folding and sorting robot.'
Also, improved business relationships in the tech and engineering sector are improving multi-media, multi-room devices.
'Manufacturers are creating more and more products that talk to each other,' says Matt Symons.
Some 2.3 million 3D printers are expected to sell in 2018, according to Rightmove’s Home of the Future, and they’ll increasingly become a common home fixture. It’s smaller items we’ll be creating for now, but Samsung’s SmartThings Future Living Report
predicts 3D printed furniture in almost every home within the next 100 years.
Home security and maintenance
Thanks to our phones and new security technology, monitoring our home while we’re away has become easier.
'Home security cameras are getting so sophisticated that one model can even tell the difference between a person standing about and a fox running around in the garden,' says Matt Symons.
The connected home of the future could help us feel secure at home and reassured away from it. Sensor systems like Notion
can give feedback on whether a door is opened, changes in humidity and even when a pipe has burst, so homeowners can do the necessary maintenance before a small leak turns into a big one, which could force them to make a claim on their houses warmed without the need for traditional heating systems are already here. So are robot vacuum cleaners. There’s plenty more to come, with a quiet revolution transforming how we live in our homes.
We can look forward to more at-home leisure time in the future, thanks to the increase in labour-saving technology. However, as energy-efficient construction replaces familiar architecture, perhaps the home’s appearance will transform the most over the coming years. Stay tuned to see how this could affect your home insurance
Follow Sarah on Twitter @SMWarwick for more home design inspiration.