Friday, 19 October 2012

Houses, Cars and Phones

The car that can do everything?

Why can't houses be more like cars and phones ?

Let me explain.

A modern car is now able to cover by and large 200,000 odd miles in all sorts of traffic conditions, and still be a reasonable used buy with many years more life in it. At one moment you may be whizzing along at 120 mph (where authorised of course), and a few minutes later crawling along at walking pace in a city centre. Then as the fancy takes you you may decide you want to go to the top of that vineyard, or take a short cut over that very steep rocky road. You can do all that with the same vehicle if you like, all the while carrying several people and their stuff. And mile after mile, year after year, not once will it not perform wonderfully well, only asking for fuel (you'll still get 30 mpg or more) and lubricant to be added from time to time. Over the last few decades vehicles have become extremely reliable, extremely safe, extremely efficient and we haven't really noticed.

A modern smartphone is a powerful computer, a very capable film or still camera, allows us to communicate instantly with people on the other side of the planet, doesn't need charging for days on end, never gives the slightest problem, doesn't even cost that much if you shop around. It would have been considered a miraculous object from another dimension only 30 years ago, yet we no longer notice them. Or we do only when we can't get perfect reception all the time even on the top of a mountain. They do not help us to display common sense though.

Now let's look at the average house.

Largely unchanged since Roman times, the average British house still takes months to build. Its never done right.  And is always potentially cold and uncomfortable unless you spend a fortune on fuel. It is often small and cramped and not designed at all for its purpose, which is to house a family in comfort. House builders will tell us that this is what people want, that it is technically impossible to build a house in few days (as happens in many other countries), one which will be warm, comfortable and spacious without costing a fortune. And we don't seem to notice we are being taken for a ride.

Please stop kidding us and take a leaf from the books of car and mobile phone manufacturers. There would be no energy or environmental crisis if all our industries would perform as well. And our houses would be so energy efficient they could power our mobile phones and cars for free. Now that's a nice thought...

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