Appliances And Gadgets In A Greener Home Construction Essay

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Information Communication and Entertainment products (ICE) have revolutionised our homes with most of the western world becoming increasingly dependent on power hungry gadgets, yet a survey carried out by the Copper Development Association in 2000 showed that after two years of building, 67% of the owners of 3 bed houses felt they didn't have sufficient sockets to cope with the demands of modern technology [1].

Simultaneously, there is an increasing impetus on ethical consumerism and desire to reduce waste consumption and our 'carbon footprint'. Figures from the Energy Saving Trust suggest the average household wastes £37 each year on equipment left in standby which equates to more than £900m of electricity wasted, or in terms of CO2 emissions equivalent to 1.7 million long-haul flights [2].

Whilst more efficient technology is being mooted for the generation, transmission and distribution of elecricity to our homes, a radical change in how we distribute and use electricity within the home is also required to increase end-user energy efficiency so that these two clashing cultures can co-exist.

Illustrating the modern landscape of domestic electricity consumption; this paper examines both alternative methods of electricity distribution within the home and the design of the electrical products that use it, in an attempt to offset and/or reverse the increase in consumption that is a consequence of the modern 'ICE' age.


Electricity consumption timeline and landscape

Electrical products - design, efficiency, and alternative methods

Electrical distribution - physical implications, technical implications, and alternative methods

Legislation - standby, efficiency, social implications, behavioural change

Feasable target consumption landscape

Keywords: eco friendly, gadgets, power consumption, electrical distribution, ethical consumerism, energy efficiency


[1] Copper Development Association (2000). Electrical Convenience in New Build Homes Survery Report, Online publication 141, p6, Accessed 12-05-10, available from:

[2] BBC News, TV 'sleep' button stands accused online article accessed 10-05-10, available from:

There are four fields which are obligatory (Purpose, Design/methodology/approach, Findings and Originality/value); the other three (Research limitations/implications, Practical implications, and Social implications) may be omitted if they are not applicable to your paper.


What are the reason(s) for writing the paper or the aims of the research?


How are the objectives achieved? Include the main method(s) used for the research. What is the approach to the topic and what is the theoretical or subject scope of the paper?


What was found in the course of the work? This will refer to analysis, discussion, or results.

Research limitations/implications (if applicable)

If research is reported on in the paper this section must be completed and should include suggestions for future research and any identified limitations in the research process.

Practical implications (if applicable)

What outcomes and implications for practice, applications and consequences are identified? How will the research impact upon the business or enterprise? What changes to practice should be made as a result of this research? What is the commercial or economic impact? Not all papers will have practical implications.

Social implications (if applicable)

What will be the impact on society of this research? How will it influence public attitudes? How will it influence (corporate) social responsibility or environmental issues? How could it inform public or industry policy? How might it affect quality of life? Not all papers will have social implications.


What is new in the paper? State the value of the paper and to whom.


What is the problem?

Britain's vast stocks of Edwardian and Victorian homes were built when most households didn't even have a radio. Then came inventions such as fridges, washing machines, televisions, satellite decoders, computers (and peripherals), mobile phones, ipods…and so on. Over the last 30 years, Information Communication and Entertainment products have revolutionised our homes, yet even newly built homes don't seem to be up to the challenge of providing the electrical sockets to cater for our addiction to technology. The advice from bodies such as the Institute of Engineering and Technology, Electrical Contractors Association, and the National Home Builders Council is to make sure there are enough sockets fitted in your home to satisfy the need. Their guidelines recommend thirty eight for a three bed home [1], yet even so, a survey carried out by the Copper Development Association in 2000 showed that after two years of building, 67% of the owners of 3 bed houses felt they didn't have sufficient sockets to cope with the demands of modern technology [2].

Why is it interesting and important?

The increase in the number of gadgets and ICE equipment also brings other issues beside where to plug it in; standby wastage. Figures from the Energy Saving Trust suggest the average household wastes £37 each year by leaving on average 12 gadgets left on standby or charging at any one time [3]. This equates to more than £740m of electricity wasted, or in terms of CO2 emissions, equivalent to 1.4 million long-haul flights. Despite efforts from bodies such as The Energy Saving Trust and The International Energy Agency, the Market Transformation Programme insists that it would not be practical to introduce legislation in the UK to remove the standby function as it would entail higher prices for unique UK models. Manufacturers claim it is a purely consumer-driven and not a technical issue, with the exception of set-top boxes for example, which need to have power all the time to download and update their electronic programming guides. According to the Market Transformation Programme, 'manufacturers include sleep modes on their products because it is what their customers want'.

Yet they also want eco friendly - go into a bit of blurb on the green market.

Why is it hard?

Why hasn't it been solved before? (Or, what's wrong with previous proposed solutions? How does mine differ?)

What are the key components of my approach and results? Also include any specific limitations.

Related Work

The research in this conference paper formed a large part of the business case for the design development of the AllSocket Power Track System, a domestic electrical distribution system which integrates the electrical wiring into the skirting board. Card-like 'AllPlugs' replace conventional electrical plugs and simply slot into the distribution system anywhere around the perimeter of the room, giving the user access to power wherever it is required. This accommodates the increasing number of gadgets and appliances without unsightly adaptors and extension cables or the expense of chasing in of additional plug points, whilst also reducing power waste, allowing users to turn the power off to one or several appliances at a time by either a flick of one conveniently placed wireless wall switch, or automatically by smart plugs which detect standby states.

During the research and development for the concept, it became clear that whilst such a product could offer an immediate solution to the current issues, it could quickly become outdated as more advanced and solutions coupled with tighter legislation are likely to render it's features superfluous therefore negate the concept business case. Therefore failed the 'future-proof' test.

Forty three per cent of UK

homes have at least one 'hard to treat' feature, such as solid walls.35

Electricity consumption timeline and landscape

The Rise of the Machines - figures on what makes up the energy consumption

Lightbulbs: Filament - CFL - LED

TV's: CRT - Plasma - LCD

Most is used for heating the home. Despite

improvements in house insulation and in the

efficiency of boiler systems, the overall energy used

in the UK for space heating has increased. This is

because of an increase in the number of houses, an

increase in the proportion with central heating and

also because people keep their houses warmer.

The overall use of energy to provide hot water has increased very slightly between 1970 and

2000, while energy used for cooking has fallen a little, or rather transferred to the industrial

sector with the increased use of convenience meals.

Energy used for lighting and appliances is two and a half times higher in 2000 than it was in

1970. This is due to a number of factors:

• An increased number of households

• A trend towards multiple sources of lighting rather than a single ceiling light.

• An increase in the number of electrical goods households own - microwave ovens,

PCs and DVD players weren't available in 1970.

• Standby mode - this accounts for 6% of all domestic electricity consumption!

Turning things off at the switch rather than the remote will save money.

Other factors have reduced the size of the increase, such as the growing use of low energy

bulbs, and improvements to the energy efficiency of new fridges and freezers, which use only

three quarters of the energy they did in 1970.

• Domestic energy consumption increased by 7 per cent between 1990 and 2009. However, as a result of the 5.2 per cent decrease (2.8 million tonnes of oil equivalent) between 2008 and 2009, domestic energy consumption has fallen to its lowest level since 1995, 10 per cent lower than the peak seen in 2004. For context, since 1990, the number of households in the UK increased by 18 per cent, the population by 8 per cent and total household disposable income by 58 per cent in real terms. In 2008, space heating accounted for 58 per cent of all energy consumed in the domestic sector, water heating a further 24 per cent, with lighting and appliances and cooking responsible for 16 and 3 per cent.

It is estimated that had the savings through insulation and heating efficiency improvements from 1970 onwards not been made, then energy consumption in homes would be around twice current levels.

extent of gadget uptake and it's effects

Ampere strikes back

The number of adapters in

the UK is set to increase from

around 13 million to over

80 million by 2020, consuming

an estimated 13 TWh.

This is expected to result in

a 400 per cent rise in the

energy consumption by these

products (over 2005 levels).

From: MTP Policy Brief: UK Energy Consumption of TV Digital Adaptors

(page 17)

The Rise of the Machines

Carbon trust findings

Electrical products - design, efficiency, and alternative methods

The existing system

UK spec


Other existing Solutions AC/DC dual system

Electrical distribution - physical implications, technical implications, and alternative methods

technical requirements of the new system

IET Regulations

Possibilities for a new system

Moving from a centralised system

Refer to: Future proof on electrical distribution page 28 network connection and use


Legislation - standby, efficiency, social implications, behavioural change

Look at Teaching homes to be green pdf

existing mechanisms:

• home information packs

• the code for sustainable homes

• building regulations

• energy efficiency commitment

Energy efficiency commitment (EEC)

EEC requires all energy suppliers with over 50,000 customers to deliver energy

savings in their customer's homes. This contributes to carbon emission reduction

targets by improving the energy performance of existing homes. Suppliers are given

an energy saving target proportionate to their customer base and are currently

working to EEC phase 2 targets.

EEC 1 ran from 2002 - 2005 and suppliers exceeded the required savings

EEC 2 is running from 2005 - 2008 with a target more than double that of EEC 1

EEC 3 will run from 2008 - 2011 and will change to a carbon emission reduction


EEC3 will become known as the carbon emission reduction target (CERT) from

2008 and will require a further doubling of EEC2 targets.

• energy end use and energy services directive

Energy end-use efficiency and energy services directive

This EU directive was agreed in November 2005 and has to be implemented by


Smart meters an overview of energy saving trials around the world16

Judith Ward and Gill Owen's review of the above trials takes their specific

characteristics and the variety of results into account and concludes with a conservative

estimate that the UK can only a expect 1 - 3 per cent reduction in domestic

energy use from smart electricity meters.17 They restated this conviction in their final

report on their work18 but noted that, although a one per cent saving sounds small,

it would still constitute an eight per cent contribution to the UK's target of reducing

domestic carbon emissions by 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2010.19

Smart electricity meters are therefore crucial to whether homes become more

intelligent. The government aims to see them in all homes within the next ten years

(ie by 2017)41

Reducing peak demand

Smart meters are able to automatically shift between different tariffs throughout the

day, with higher prices charged at peak times. This could prompt people to shift

their activities, for example, doing their washing during the day when electricity is

cheaper. This will become easier as appliances become more intelligent and can be

set remotely.

The main benefit of reduced peak demand is the potential to defer or avoid

infrastructure investment. Environmentally, shifting demand may also lead to an

overall drop in consumption, but experience varies:

• a Californian trial did not see an overall drop in demand

• a Norwegian trial found overall reductions in both the morning and afternoon

peak times of 12 and 14 per cent

• a study of 16 trials found a 4 per cent average reduction in overall use20

new mechanisms:

• a strategy for existing stock

• an intelligent buildings rating

5 start educating the supply chain now

Even with a good evidence base and policy mechanisms that support smart features,

lack of knowledge in the supply chain may be a barrier to their development. Most

smart feature suppliers are ready and waiting for the market to grow, but a lot

of them have concerns about installers. The features may be new and smart but

traditional professionals, such as plumbers and electricians, will still be installing

many of them. Plumbers consistently advised homeowners against condensing

boilers until legislation made them a requirement and plumbers had to start

installing them. If homeowners are discussing their options with plumbers and

electricians they may not be made aware of smart options and, even if they request

them, they may be persuaded against them.

Suppliers should provide training and awareness raising to ensure the availability of

dependable installers who understand the technologies and promote their benefits.

4) Ecodesign standards for energy use in

products may, in future, also include water

and materials use.

The instrument that could have most effect on

products is the EU's Ecodesign of Energy-Using

Products. This could be expanded beyond its

present scope to set standards for products on

their recyclability or water use, for instance.

However, there are no immediate plans to

extend it beyond energy-related products, and

any revisions would take at least until 2012 to

be introduced


[1] Electrical Contractors Association, Adequate Provision Of Electrical Socket Outlets in the Home, Aug 2006, p6

[2] Copper Development Association (2000). Electrical Convenience in New Build Homes Survery Report, Online publication 141, p6, Accessed 12-05-10, available from: <>

[3] BBC News, TV 'sleep' button stands accused online article accessed 10-05-10, available from:

Ecodesign of Energy-Using Products Directive.

Project Discovery

Ofgem Lens

Timeline for consumption landscape

Look for dates 20th c that radios, microwaves, tv's, pc's etc were introduced into homes, and place on the average household electricity consumption chart.


Post 1970 there are lots of stats from DECC spreadsheets on it.

extent of gadget uptake and it's effects

Explain stats, why heating/cooling/lighting has remained or lowered, and focussing on gadgets as the largest riser.


Post 1970 there are lots of stats from DECC spreadsheets on it.

Ampere Strikes Back

Rise of the Machines

What makes gadgets hungry / wasteful - energy figures and stats



Habitual/lifestyle/function ie digital tv to listen to radio

How Each of those problems can be Addressed


Third Party Products

Product redesign


Chargers / Transformers

Infrastructure / distribution - dual system, PV

New charging products ie wireless induction


Habitual / Lifestyle / Function

Education - end user and supplier

Design - smart meters / reducing peak demand