Smart homes – we need them now! – Birds on the Blog

Smart homes – we need them now!



… some tips to take away from a Victorian Retrofit

There was a fantastic ad I saw the other day, where a man got locked out of his smart home after visiting the dentist. With a mouth numbed and appearing to be full of cotton wool, his speech was not recognised by the entry lock! The poor guy stood out in the rain, screaming ‘Open’ to no avail. While his neighbour unlocked her door, casting sympathetic glances his way. I imagine her thinking  ‘Poor sod!’. Old school doesn’t mean simpler. I mean it’s not beyond the realm of possibility to lose your keys. I’ve done it before.

Moving into the digital age

Moving into the digital age is exciting (barring dental visits), and it does have its pitfalls. My Alexa decides to switch on at strange times throughout the day. I’m even woken up at 3 am with a voice saying ‘Connecting to Rika’s iPhone’. Not that I begrudge her some autonomy you see, but seriously, that is some spooky nonsense.

And now we have gas and energy bills rising by 12% this year. I live in a 2-bed house, and my bills will rise from £80 per month to £100, with the added stress of energy providers going bust. Costs will continue to creep up. Insulate Britain may be adopting extreme measures to get noticed. Gluing themselves to the roads is extreme but their message itself is valid.

We do need to lower our energy consumption, and we need to start thinking about how this can be achieved in our homes.

I visited the Eco Show Home in Walthamstow

I visited the Eco Show Home in Walthamstow during the London Open House Weekend in September 2021. I wanted to see what this model energy-efficient home has to offer. Were the measures intrusive and also hoping it doesn’t break the bank!

47 Greenleaf Road is a Council Owned Victorian Terrace built in 1902. It has been retrofitted by the London Borough of Waltham Forest in partnership with Aston Group to reduce the carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency. The total cost of the works was circa £112k, with eight key elements and they have made improvements in energy use by 82%, reduction in CO2 emssions by 81% and and reduction in running cost by 64%.

Are you impressed yet?  Watch the retrofit film and tell me what you think.

Among the thermal insulation solutions (Wall, Roof, Floor, and Windows), the most fascinating was the Q-bot! Which you can see 2.49 minutes into the film.

It feels like keyhole surgery for your house

It feels like keyhole surgery for your house. A remote control car that sent under the floor boards first to investigate and finally to spray the underside of the floorboards with insulation. This seals off all those little air gaps that create drafts.

For the tech geeks, you can control the smart sockets, and LED lighting with your phone.

And the solution to the rise in gas prices is to omit it from your property! The Air Source Heat pump replaced the existing gas boiler and hot water cylinder, giving you the added benefit of extra space. It is a unit that is fitted outside the property, and may not be visually pleasing, but it is silent. And most of the visitors were not bothered by it at all.

I spoke to many of the visitors to 47 Greenleaf Road during the London Open House weekend. Some were neighbors curious to find out what all the ‘banging’ over the last year was about. But many were looking to upgrade their own homes and found the technology inspiring and worth it.

The Open House weekend is over, but the London Borough of Waltham Forest will be hosting more open days. Visit their website to find out more.

AUTHOR: Rika Chandra


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