Homes With a Heartbeat
Homes With a Heartbeat
WHERE ARE YOU NOW?
Every building has a unique starting position. Whether it's a home, office, school or garden shed, there are certain necessities that need to be factored in and assessed to determine the best course of action in a design.
Whether you want to help the environment, cut costs, or improve your lifestyle, you probably already have some ideas on how you'd like to turn your home into a Smart Home. However, if you aren't clear on where you are now, how will you know where to go?
Just like giving someone directions to your house is very different depending on whether they're starting in an adjacent suburb or a different city, the steps required to create your Smart Home will be different based upon your starting point. Otherwise, you could end up investing your time, money, and energy in gadgets that might not work or you might not need.
But what most people do is, rather than reviewing their starting point and thinking holistically about how they really want their home to improve their lives, react to an isolated problem or complaint with an isolated product or solution.
As an example, one of the more prominent problems is our reaction to extreme heat and cold. Too often this causes a haphazard, spontaneous purchase that lacks research and sometimes even logic.
I've spent most of my life on the south coast of Victoria, Australia. Down there at the reasonably southern latitude of 37° we get a huge range in weather and, more specifically, temperature. We experience extreme changes not only throughout the week, but also within a single day. It is common in the early autumn months of March and April to experience cold, almost wintery temperatures, as well as 40+°C in the space of 48 hours. In the summer months, strings of these hot days will sometimes occur, and this is when people tend to make irrational, illogical decisions regarding their climate and comfort.
What tends to happen is, without any research or investigation, the homeowner contacts an air conditioning installer to organise a cooling unit to be installed "as soon as humanly possible!" The question often asked over the phone by the so-called professional is "How big is the room?", to which the home owner responds "Oh, I don't know, maybe five metres long and the same wide." The installer selects a unit to service an area of about 25 square metres and lets the owner know the approximate price. The homeowner, sweltering in the extreme temperature, quickly agrees for an install the very next day.
You may think this is pretty good service. The installer has agreed to a prompt next-day service, but is this service really going to be valuable? The homeowner has now committed to investing $3000 to $5000 to cool just a room or two.
The problem in this scenario is that the room was 'hot' and the customer wants it 'cool'. Seems logical, doesn't it? Now, there is no doubt this cooling unit will indeed do its job of cooling. But will it be as effective as it could have been, had they considered their starting point?
Let's allow that the homeowner's estimate of the room being five metres by five metres is correct. They also need to consider many other factors to get the best results, including:
How high are the ceilings, so we can calculate the actual space we are trying to cool?
Does this room close off to other areas or is it open-plan, incorporating other liveable spaces of the home?
How old is the home, and does it have insulation in the walls, floor or ceiling?
Are there windows in this room? Are they big windows that let the hot sun through?
These simple factors are necessary to consider to effectively calculate the size of the air conditioner required, or more specifically, the energy required to cool this room. But aren't we forgetting something?
For the sake of the exercise, let's assume the home is a simple