Science Podcasts

Naked Scientists episode

Sun, 20th Apr 2008

Houses of the Future

Sustainable Solar power in Sydney, home-generated electricity and green-housing developments go under the microscope this week as we explore the science of sustainable living. Meanwhile Dave goes for gold in water recycling by purifying and drinking water from urine, and we also find out how vitamin supplements can kill, discover an atom-thin transistor and hear how testosterone provoke boom and bust on the stock market. So join us as we become eco-estate agents and go through the keyholes of the Green Houses of Tomorrow!

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In this edition of Naked Scientists

Full Transcript

  • 16:18 - Why do doctors remove air from syringes?

    When you are given an injection why is the doctor or nurse very careful to make sure there is no air in the barrel of the syringe? Because when you cut yourself it doesn’t matter, there’s air all around the wound.

  • 17:26 - Sustainable Solar Solutions?

    Solar panels seem to be turning up on rooftops all over the place, but are they really worth using? You may be generating electricity for free – but how long does it take to pay back the costs of buying them in the first place? We spoke to Australia’s Dr Karl Kruszelnicki who...

  • 23:59 - Generating Heat and Power at Home

    So how else can we generate electricity at home? Well Elaine Ball is from Baxi Group – and they’ve developed a household boiler system called the Ecogen which, as well as heating the house and water, also generates electricity. And here’s the really good news – the electricity e...

  • 30:48 - The Science of Survival

    With Ben and Dave doing the ultimate in water recycling, we sent Meera to find out how to be water wise...

  • 37:50 - Zero Energy Housing

    Is it possible to build houses that produce more energy than they use? ZEDFactory aim to produce developments which are Zero Energy, perfect for the Houses of the Future...

  • 43:09 - Lightning on TV

    My Dad always used to unplug the TV when lightning was nearby, was this the right thing to do? And, if you'll excuse the pun, Watt is the Current advice?

 

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My house is roughly a hundred years old. The new houses built today may not last that long but, in general, the houses of the next 50 years are going to be the ones we have now. Bored chemist, Tue, 22nd Apr 2008

I am also vey wary about the overall concept of microgeneration.  If a substantial fraction of out electricity were going to be provided by microgeneration, then what are the big power generating companies going to do about the loss of business.  They will not be happy, and they will have their voice heard (not least because they are a source of tax revenue, whereas at present microgeneration does not generate tax revenue, and it is far more difficult to enforce tax collection upon lots of little people, then upon a large centralised pool of money.

In fact it is interesting that while environmentalists are extolling the virtues of centralised transportation systems, they are also extolling the virtues of decentralised energy production systems (this despite the fact that we cannot get public transport to work properly, but have been working very well with large power generating plants).

I am not philosophically against microgeneration.  On the contrary, in general I support the notion that small is beautiful - I just think that nobody has properly thought through the end game should we ever get to the point that a substantial portion of the nations power is generated by microgenerators. another_someone, Tue, 22nd Apr 2008

"what are the big power generating companies going to do about the loss of business?"
Well, if I have my own wind/ solar powered generator I don't much care what they do.
My guess is that the people who would lose their jobs if the power stations closed would be less than the new jobs created fixing wind turbines etc.
Anyway, if the price of fuel keeps on rising we simply won't be able to afford as much electricity so the big generators are facing a shrinking market whether we move to microgeneration or not. Bored chemist, Wed, 23rd Apr 2008



Rising  prices and restricted supply is not a problem for the power generators (in fact it can be an opportunity to increase their profits for less work); it is the loss of monopoly that is a threat.

If you have your own wind/solar powered generators, then you may not care what the big boys do, but you will care if the Government starts to listen to their tales of woe.  The government could start introducing strict planning restrictions (if they can create planning problems for putting up satellite receiver dishes, how much more complicated can they make the planning regime for putting up your own wind turbine or solar power collector); or they can apply rigid criteria to the production of units for microgeneration that would make them increasingly unaffordable to private buyers. another_someone, Wed, 23rd Apr 2008

Which house of what future?
I remember being at school in Milton Keynes in the 80's, we had a house of the future near us, and our class had a look around. The estate had solar panels on the roof, the curtains and appliances were all controlled by a central computer consol and so on. never have i seen a house like it since... paul.fr, Thu, 5th Nov 2009

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