I’ll admit to being rather geeky. When I think of what I’d want in my dream home, the first thing to come to mind is energy efficiency. Two things in particular have been on my mind.
One is high mass radiant heating. I saw an article about a New England home that’s had a system like this for the last 30 years, and they haven’t payed a heating bill the whole time. What stuck out for me was that it was just a long black wedge on top of a sun room. Solar heating is far more cost-effective than solar electric, though it’s not as pretty.
The other is using holograms to concentrate solar power. The idea here is that solar cells are expensive, and this is a really cheap way to maximize the light going to the solar cell. It’s like using sun-tracking lenses to concentrate the light, but without the moving parts.
One thing about the holograms is that they only concentrate light at particular frequencies. With real lenses, infrared light gets concentrated as well, which can overheat the solar cells.
So in my dream home there’s a south-facing solarium, with a long, skinny solar collector on top: mirrors that focus light onto a black pipe, so that only a black wedge is visible. The hot water (or other fluid) in the pipe heats a hot tub, hot water supply, and a sand bed which in turn keeps the house warm. And on the front of the solar collector is the holographically concentrated solar cells, which make the whole apparatus prettier and provides electricity for the house.
Not most people’s dream home, but I don’t have most people’s dreams.