In the world of green living and energy efficiency, it’s the innovative products and trends which ultimately see technology move forwards. 2013 was an incredible year for such products, proving that there are plenty of like-minded people out there working on solutions to some of the biggest problems posed, as well as making new, energy efficient technology available to as many people as possible. Their successes have been demonstrated by some of the most popular trends of last year, which are set to be improved, and joined by others throughout 2014.
Here’s a run down of some of the most impressive green living trends, which have the potential to revolutionise technology in 2014.
When it comes to reducing your energy consumption, and subsequent utility bills, knowledge is the greatest weapon. Traditional thermostats and typical energy bills don’t always do a lot to help you really understand your spending, making it harder to change costly habits. Because of this, the introduction of smart thermostats has revolutionised the way we process and use information on our energy usage. Smart thermostats use realtime data on your home’s energy consumption, helping you to make smarter and more informed decisions. And now that smart thermostats can be synchronised with our smart phones, controlling our energy use, when when we’re away from home, has never been easier.
In 2014, smart thermostats are set to become even more commercially successful. Having bought thermostat manufacturer Nest for $3.2m, Google are ready to invest money and resources into the technology to allow more households to benefit from smart thermostat technology. With British Gas providing their own technology, Hive, it looks like energy providers and independent manufactures alike are looking to invest in the technology, which could give its popularity a real boost in 2014.
Wind power has been an effective renewable technology for a number of years, but with the huge turbines needed, it has been largely unattainable on a domestic level. But new technology means that wind power can now be harnessed with windmills which are smaller. Much smaller.
In fact, the micro windmills developed by researchers at the University of Texas, Arlington are so small that approximately 10 of them can fit onto a grain of rice, whilst the levels of energy they are able to produce are surprisingly high. The researchers are currently looking at ways in which hundreds of these micro windmills can be incorporated into everyday technology such as smart phones, dispensing with the need for conventional charging and allowing the device to be powered by just a few waves in the air. If this proves to be successful, the technology may soon move into the green building industry and it might not be long before we start to see homes with these tiny turbines embedded into the walls, harnessing the power of every gust of wind and generating sustainable, renewable energy.
Green spaces in domestic environments
The inclusion of green spaces in domestic environments has been shown to play an important part in maintaining good health, both mentally and physically, which is why it has become one of the biggest home trends over the past year. Green spaces provide a number of benefits to both the homeowner and the environment. Properties with gardens generally have better drainage and are less at risk of flooding. Greener areas also tend to have better air quality due to the purifying properties of most plants. This has led to a greater emphasis on gardens in homes, as well as the inclusion of green roofs in some new builds.
Many homeowners have started to seek ways in which they can enjoy green spaces indoors, including larger windows, glass walls and ambiguous indoor/outdoor patio areas, to blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor space in the home. With a greater importance placed on green spaces, in terms of practicality and preference, we could be seeing far more incorporation of greenery into our homes in 2014.
Solar batteries are the one technology we need to combat solar energy’s biggest problem: harnessing the power of the sun at night. Solar batteries work by simply charging in sunlight and storing the energy for use in less sunny conditions. You’d think such a simple idea would already be successfully on the market, but high costs have previously stopped this from being the case. Fortunately, costs have finally started to fall in the past year, and as a result, solar batteries are becoming a popular and versatile way to make the most of solar power at any time of day. Their potential to be used in all kinds of different technologies means that 2014 could very well be their time to shine.
Sun tubes have been growing in popularity in recent years in both new builds and retrofit properties. They solve the crucial problem of how to allow sunlight into rooms without external walls to fit windows, a common issue with landings and long hallways. A sun tube travels through the ceiling, up to the roof where it joins onto a plastic dome. This dome catches the sun’s light and directs it down through the tube where it is reflected and magnified into the room below. The system makes getting light into awkward places easy and it both reduces the need to leave electric lights on around the home and allows the resident to enjoy greater exposure to healthy, mood-boosting sunlight. As new homes continue to be built and older ones updated, the use of sun tubes throughout 2014 looks like it will be on the rise.
Image sourced: Ben Terretttagsgreen living trendsgreen roofsmicro windmillssmart thermostatssolar batteriessun tubes