Future homes – what will we really need?

computersThis blog was inspired by the fact that I’ve just invested in a new pc.  The old one was, well getting old, slowing down.  I know how it feels.  However unlike myself I could transfer my in-silica life into a new and, hopefully, superior body.  They say, getting married, buying a house, moving job etc. are the most stressful times of your life.  I would add changing pc to that.  My son had said go ‘mac’.  He changed his recently, plugged the new one into the old one, pressed a button and ‘hey bingo’ it was done.  Windows, forget it.  The ‘easy transfer’ doesn’t do Vista to 8.1 (why the hell not??).  After some ranting, shouting, swearing and much more I’m just about there, I hope, fingers crossed.

But it did get me thinking how much we take technology for granted, at least we do when it works.  Also how much we fill our homes with it.  The gadgets, the shiny new toys that make life interesting even if they’re not essential.  However, we seem to largely ignore other possibilities that could make a fundamental difference to all our lives, the country and even the planet.  For example power and water.  I don’t know how much a new power station costs, but I wonder how many homes, commercial buildings, tower blocks, we could equip with solar panels for the same money?  Maybe I’ll try and do the maths, and then work out how much electricity you could generate compared to that power station.  I’m not saying we wouldn’t still need power stations, but maybe we wouldn’t need as many?

Then there’s water.  In the UK every few years we have the drought scares, usually followed by floods.  Why aren’t new homes, offices etc. built with water tanks under them?  How much extra would that cost 1% maybe?  The other day I was watching the water gush into my water butt and wondered how much power you could generate with a simple turbine in the down pipe?  OK then you’ve got to use it, put it in the grid or store it somehow.  But it did get me thinking of just how much free energy might be out there that we just can’t be bothered to collect.  I rather suspect the issue is that as society and as individuals we ‘can’t be bothered’, or perhaps we’ve londonbecome conditioned to thinking that the provision of power and water is a right and providing it is someone the concern of someone else.

As a sci-fi writer I look to the future and in that future I believe we will have to be ‘bothered’.  With increasing population and an increasing need for power and water I don’t think we can go on expecting the current sources to keep providing.  Or for it to be only the concern of big commercial operations.  Maybe as individuals we will have to take more responsibility for it.   One side effect of that might be waste less as well.

We are all happy to spend money on that new TV or computer (as I just have) and many other ‘toys’ we consider essential.  I wonder if the technology was there (I know some of it already is) and/or we spent some of that money (and some of the energy that is spent on inventing new and updated gadgets for us to buy) on power generation in our home, perhaps with government support? how much we might achieve to everyone’s benefit?  Perhaps it just needs a little imagination?  

As always comments and ideas welcome.

Ian Martyn

Author: Ian Martyn

Science Fiction Writer

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