Food for thought?


Television show Home of the Future gives a glimpse into how families can start taking into account energy efficiency and environmentally friendly behaviour.

The Channel 4 show, co-funded by energy company E.ON, features the Perara family, from Sheffield, who had their home kitted out with the latest technology and gadgets, and were subjected to possible scenarios of the future.

An E.ON spokesperson says the point of the show is “to demonstrate that we are going to be living more energy efficiently in the future, to showcase some of the most up to date means of being self-sufficient, and also to be a bit fun to demonstrate what gadgets we are going to be using and how they are going to make our lives easier in the coming decades”.

This weekend’s episode focuses on food. The family had its greenhouse fitted with an aquaponics system that provided a self-sustaining fish farm. The system recycles all the water from the fish tank for the plants in the greenhouse, “So they are able to grow plants in the greenhouse without having to feed them or give them any soil”. The fish could be eaten too, but “the family found it a bit hard to actually carry out the deed of making a fish ready to eat”.

Another feature the family appreciate in the show – and still use even though filming for the show has finished – is the soil free growing gadget, which uses UV light to trick the plants into thinking that night and day are passing more quickly than they are. Because plants grow in days rather than weeks, it gave the family had a constant supply of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Futurism expert Chris Sanderson, who overlooks the whole series, said, “It was interesting to see the family address the food challenges we face globally. The era of cheap food is on its way out, and we all have to do a major rethink about priorities – and the programme tackles this head on. There are major challenges around new sources of protein and how we get them, for example, insects”.

Most of the recommendations made in the series are realistic – the technology showcased can be found online or through specialists. Other technologies that improve energy efficiency are even more readily available; for instance, smart meters that show how much electricity and gas is being used to power the gadgets used around the home.

The family in the television show also noticed the importance of being less wasteful with food, so they changed their behaviour by cooking less.  The little waste food that remained was recycled or composted.

There are a number of simple ways to become more energy efficient if only we are aware of the technology available to us. The E.ON spokesperson says it is important that people start making lifestyle changes now “so it doesn’t become a kind of crunch point when we suddenly have to change. It is more a gradual change of habits over the next few years.

“Everyone knows about fossil fuels running out, and the spiralling cost of energy reflects the fact that people need to be more aware of what they are using and make it a sustainable and realistic way of living.”

Home of the Future is on Channel 4, Sunday, March 4. You can catch up with the rest of the series online. You can also read Blue & Green Tomorrow’s take on the rise of the sustainable home soon.

If you want to make your life more sustainable, we have four recommendations. Start shopping ethically, we suggest taking a look at the Ethical Supermarket, travel sustainably, use renewable energy to power your home, our preferred supplier is Good Energy. Finally, you can make a difference with your money; just speak to your IFA and ask about sustainable investment, and if you don’t have one then fill in our online form and we’ll put you in touch with a specialist ethical adviser.

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