At the Pacific Coast Builders' Conference in San Francisco this week, you can find the elements of home design and smart materials beginning to emerge, perhaps the future of super connected homes.
Today, innovations showcasing ideas like water conservation, money savings, and energy management are found in one-off products, but as standards and systems begin to emerge, these individual elements will one day come together to build the home of the future, an intelligently managed, smoothly running home that harvests energy, manages systems, and controls use in the best ways to fit our lives.
By simply switching aerators on your faucet, for example, from 2.2 gallon per minute aerators to 1.5 gallon per minute aerators, home water use can be reduced by 11,800 gallons, or 30 percent each year.
Individually these tools can save pennies or a few dollars per day, but when integrated into a more eloquent system, we can see the huge savings of having a smart home.
General Electric is showing off all kinds of home appliances, from washers and dryers to microwaves, refrigerators, and water heaters, that are connected to the grid and provide intelligent management of appliances and their systems.
One thing holding back smart grid connected appliances, a GE engineer said, was the ability of regional energy companies to send and receive data to these appliances.
This water heater is equipped with a data port, but until the systems are capable of exchanging information with the grid, the appliances can't make the best decisions for the home.
Post consumer cotton materials, which are 100 percent recycled, are being used as insulation in environmentally friendly homes. UltraTouch provides maximum R-value performance with a woven construction process that contains thousands of tiny air pockets for maximum thermal protection.
Lining metal roofing with a thin-film photovoltaic laminate, Fusion Solar integrates Uni-Solar technologies that require no structural support, and are flexible, which allows for expansion and contraction.
The design lays flat on a roof and aesthetically integrates well as it doesn't require the complex framing of typical photovoltaic panels. It's sturdy and durable, and once installed, you can walk on the solar panels just the same as a standard roof.
While home building still has a long way to go before we are living with always-on, low maintenance systems, the pieces are getting smarter and beginning to speak the same languages of efficiency and interconnectedness that will some day make every home smarter, working more efficiently, and living better.