How many of us watch Grand Designs on Channel 4 and wish we too could build our dream home? A glass covered seashore abode, a rural circular wooden cabin or a palatial column fronted country retreat are all innovative places envisaged by people with big dreams. The inspiration for these kinds of buildings comes from all different angles, but what seems high on the list of priorities is the lure of a super environmentally friendly home. Methods of organically converting heat seem to be the basis of an eco building and everyone’s number one priority seems to be energy efficiency.

Workers at a Chelmsford based company, The Magic Thermodynamic Box, were positively giddy with excitement when their energy saving product ‘The Little Magic Thermodynamic Box’ was featured on Grand Designs in September this year. The Little Magic Thermodynamic Box utilises a thermodynamic panel (similar to a solar panel), which is flexible enough to be installed even on the outside wall of the home.

Unlike the solar thermal panels that only work when there is sunlight, the thermodynamic panel works day and night all year round. The building that was hosting the magic box was designed and built by a Californian architect on the outskirts of Cornwall, and his desire was to have all the domestic energy supplied through renewable energy sources. The simple ‘magic box’ installation took just over a day and will result in energy savings for years to come.

Solar Panel 3Saving energy is of huge concern to the consumer; we have already looked at ways of cutting our heating costs, and with the numerous choices available for boilers, radiators and underfloor heating, it’s good to have alternative choices.

For the ultimate in natural habitats, it would be difficult to beat Ben Law. The house he built in West Sussex was one of the first of its kind and featured an eco-friendly approach from the ground up. He hand picked the trees from which he built his sweet chestnut cruck frame, and used barley straw bale and wattle & daub to fill the walls. Almost everything came from local sustainable sources, and is entirely self sufficient with solar power, wind turbines and a wood fuelled heating system, ensuring a dramatically reduced environmental footprint.

If however you aren’t in the enviable position to build your ‘eco-home’ of the future, then at least you can ensure that your home is as energy efficient as it can be. The homes of the future will no doubt be equipped with next-generation renewable energy sources, but for now we are all responsible for keeping out our own carbon footprints as small as possible.

[Images by pedrojperez and jusben]