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What you need to know to future proof your home

Spoiler alert: flying cars or vacuum sealed meals are not on the menu

By Robyn Willis
Mon, Jan 23, 2023 9:35amGrey Clock 4 min

It’s fair to say that the world has gone through a period of accelerated change in recent years. Aside from the significant impacts of COVID, the effects of climate change are becoming more evident and, as countries around the world look for alternatives to fossil fuels, many homeowners are beginning to understand the implications at home, in the form of rising energy prices and greater weather extremes.

For those contemplating renovating or completely rebuilding from scratch, the idea of future proofing your home is beginning to take hold. But what does it mean to create a home for the future?

In general terms, a future-proofed home is one that is designed for longevity, with enough flexibility and sustainability built into it to provide residents with a comfortable lifestyle for decades to come. This means creating spaces that are not only comfortable to live in but have low running costs without the need to dramatically upgrade or alter aspects over time.

For some, that can entail embracing new technologies, which may come with substantial upfront costs, while for others, the focus is very much on design.

For more stories like these, pick up a copy of Kanebridge Quarterly magazine here.

 Architect Caroline Pidcock says the beauty of future proofing through design is that anyone building or renovating can take steps to make it part of the construction process. Whether you  plan to stay put or you have one eye on resale, she says the principles of a sustainable lifestyle still apply.

“There are three things anyone can do, whether or not you’re embarking on a major building project,” she says. 

“Firstly, make sure the external building envelope is as well sealed and insulated as possible. Secondly, we need to understand and work with the sun – where we want it and don’t want it – and work with it to capture its energy for our own use.”

The third measure, she says, is to step away from fossil fuels such as coal-fired power and gas, towards renewable sources of electricity.

“You should totally electrify your home,” she says. “Having a gas cooktop is like having a smoker in your home. If we totally electrify and make the building envelope as efficient as possible, we’re on the way to future proofing.”

In terms of design, Pidcock says it’s time to rethink the open plan living model in favour of more flexible spaces that can be opened up and closed down to allow for more efficient heating and cooling as well as better thermal and acoustic comfort for everyone.

“We need to rethink how much space we need,” she says. 

“That might mean the end of the open plan living dream. Adding doors is good from a thermal and acoustic point of view and the ability to close or open the spaces as you need them. 

“That flexibility of space is useful and important.”

This house designed by CarterWilliamson Architects is designed for flexibility and thermal comfort. Picture: Anson Smart

For Dr Trivess Moore, senior lecturer in RMIT’s School of Property, Construction and Project Management in Melbourne, the focus is very much on the ability of current housing stock to cope with the climate extremes many Australians are already experiencing.

“The majority of existing and new housing in Australia is not suitable for performing in our current climate,” he says. “This means we have a high reliance on mechanical heating and cooling to stay thermally comfortable, resulting in high energy consumption and bills. 

“The majority of the housing stock performs between 1.5 to 3 stars on a scale of zero (worst) to 10 (best). In some cases, households will find their housing unliveable for periods of time if we see climate change much further.”

Government regulation, such as the Building Sustainability Index (Basix) legislation introduced in NSW in 2004, has gone some way to make new housing stock more future proofed, says Moore, as have rebates to encourage Australians to take up renewable energies such as solar panels. The result is that one in three Australian households have installed solar panels, according to figures from the Clean Energy Regulator, the highest domestic uptake rate in the world. 

While battery storage systems are still prohibitively expensive for many, all indicators are that they will be a necessary part of any future proofed home, thanks to their ability to store energy from renewables to be used on demand.

Managing diretor of Qcells Australia, Jin Han says the sooner you can install a storage battery, the sooner you can make the most from solar energy supplies generated on your own property. He says there are options for those who would like to avoid the initial outlay.

“This can be addressed with green loans and financing,” Han says. 

The future of car use is electric, with home battery storage a given.

Qcells has partnered with Arcstream financing, allowing homeowners to bundle monthly payments with their energy plan. 

“For example, before solar your bill is $200 per month, add solar and battery and energy plan with no upfront payment, and pay $180 per month consistently, and be paying off an asset that you then own.”

Even some volume home builders are now offering battery storage packages and EV charging points.

Managing director of Volkswagen Group, Paul Sansom says once drivers move past concerns about ‘range anxiety’ for their cars, homes and residences equipped with EV charging stations will quickly become more desirable.

“Neither new houses nor new apartment buildings will be feasible without easy access to renewable EV charging; no more so than a home without internet access,” he says.

Further proof that the future of living is already here.


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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3 Reasons You Should Buy a Stick Vacuum—And 3 Reasons They Suck

Convenient, compact and light, cordless vacuums from companies like Dyson and Samsung have become covetable status symbols for some. But they come with some negatives, too.

Fri, Dec 8, 2023 3 min

JILL KOCH, 39, bought her first cordless vacuum because it was pink. “I didn’t look at the brand, I didn’t look at the price. I saw the colour and was like, ‘I have to have it,’” said the Cincinnati-based home organisation and cleaning blogger. Koch, who owns almost a dozen vacuums, says her newest cordless stick, the Shark Wandvac, gets the most use. She finds its motor powerful enough to handle most tasks. But more important, because of its sleek look, “it’s not even weird to store it in plain sight,” she said. Whenever she sees something that needs cleaning, that vacuum is within reach. She can clear the mess, dump out its dustbin into a trash can, and re-dock the vacuum in a minute or two.

Cordless stick vacuums aren’t new—British manufacturer Dyson released its first cordless stick vacuum in 2010—but the battery-powered, bagless models have become more popular, largely due to their convenience. In 2018, a year after telling Bloomberg that cordless vacuums were driving his namesake company’s growth, James Dyson announced it would no longer bother developing corded models. Convenience, however, isn’t cheap. While you can find excellent corded upright vacuums for under $200, the latest cordless option from Dyson, its Gen 5 Outsize, costs $1,050.

Some experts say ditching your corded model is unwise. Cordless vacuums have a place in your cleaning arsenal, but they aren’t a replacement for a more powerful machine like an upright model with a bag, said Ken Bank, a third-generation vacuum expert and president of Livonia, Mich.-based Bank’s Vacuum Superstores. “The technology has improved a lot,” he said, “but [stick vacuums] aren’t anywhere near as powerful as a vacuum cleaner with a cord and a real motor in it.”

Here’s what to consider before going cordless.

The Pros

Cordless vacuums are light and maneuverable

They are a great choice for folks with strength or mobility issues, or those who just don’t want to push around a heavy vacuum.

Cordless vacuums are supremely versatile

Most vacuums come with multiple heads and attachments, but cordless vacuums make them easier to use. Once you’ve swapped out the long wand for a dust brush, crevice tool or upholstery cleaner, your vacuum easily fits in hand. It’s ideal for cleaning the inside of a car or drawers.

Cordless vacuums let you clean more spontaneously

Since they can be stored on docks or stands, a cordless vacuum is always within reach. If you see a mess, you can have cleaned it before someone with a corded vacuum might have time to locate a plug.

The Cons

Cordless vacuums don’t contain dirt that well

When it comes to filtration and dust containment, nothing beats a classic vacuum with a bag, says Bank, “The cordless ones [are] not sealed up tight,” Bank said. Each time you open your vacuum’s dustbin to dump it out in the trash, he says, you release dust.

Cordless vacuums require you to clean within a time limit

Stick vacuums are battery powered. Batteries die. That means an all-day deep clean might require multiple charging stops. While some cordless vacs can run for up to an hour at a time, estimates shorten when you’re using stronger suction settings.

Cordless vacuums can be tough to fix

Bank doesn’t just sell vacuums; he repairs them, too. He says most stick vacuums are a service nightmare. “They’re hard to maintain, you can’t really take them apart to clean them, and if they break, most companies don’t make parts for them,” he said.

Don’t Get Left In the Dust

For spills, quick pick-ups, and in-between the deep cleans, it’s tough to beat a stick. Two to consider:

A sweeper with storage

Samsung’s Bespoke Jet AI Cordless is not designed to be hidden away in a closet. Its sleek, free-standing docking station doubles as a charger and a canister that auto-empties the vacuum with enough capacity for a few days’ worth of dirt. The company says a battery charge can last for 100 minutes, though that might vary as the vacuum’s software adjusts the suction level based on the floor surface it detects underneath. $US999, Samsung.com

Dust disrupter

Designed by two former Dyson R&D experts, the Pure Cordless by Lupe (pronounced “loop”) has a beefy, 9-cell battery and a 1-litre dust bin. Though one charge lasts around an hour when the vacuum is set on low suction, and just 15 minutes on max, you can buy a second battery ($149) and keep it charged for longer cleaning sessions. Unlike many other models, the Lupe is easily serviceable: You can buy an affordable replacement for basically every component. It also comes with an industry-leading five-year warranty. $US699, LupeTechnology.com

The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in its articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers frequently are not the sole retail outlets.


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