Smart Floors – creating eco homes one step at a time !

oliver General, Materials, Technology/ Energy Saving

The next stop in our tour of the future of smart homes is taking a look at “smart floors”. Our floors can be so much more than a surface we just step over. What are the added benefits that we see our industry bringing the future of flooring in our homes?

Did you know that in a typical home, 15% of the heat is lost through the floor and that insulating properly under your floorboards on your ground floor can save you around £60 per year? Not to mention the improvement of quality of life in having nice warm feet on a winters day.

It’s a fact that floor boards can be really drafty. These drafts are commonly caused by the gaps which can occur between each board or around the skirting. A quick fire fix to this is to use the Floorboard Gap Insulation Seal from Nigels Eco Store. It simply stretches into place sealing any gaps and can save a household up to £20 per room on their energy bills. The bonus is that it will do all this invisibly as the filler mimics the natural shadows between the boards.

Insulation is very important under any flooring on the ground floor. However, it depends on which type of flooring you have as to the correct type of insulation to use. Those who have standard floorboards and joists could use fibrous insulation such as the ThermaFleece Eco Roll, whereas those who live in new builds with concrete floors should look to using a rigid insulation board. For those who are installing under floor heating, we recommend the Eco-UFH rigid insulation board from EcoTherm. The boards allow for a quick and easy attachment of the flexible heating pipes to the insulation boards mesh reinforced surface.

Due to the amount of traffic on our floors and coming through our doorways, it’s hardly surprising to read that our doormats are one of the dirtiest spots in the home. You bring a lot more into your home other that dirt on the soles of your shoes. You will also find oil, pesticides, faeces, E-coli, and carcinogens down there too. Up to 95% of all household dirt and harmful pollutants enter the home on the bottom of your shoes

The Antimicrobial Doormat by Dr Doormat is a great idea. It eliminates harmful bacteria, allergens, dust mites and more from the soles of your shoes and boasts that it can remove up to 99% of these by simply wiping each shoe at least twice on the mat.

The harmful microbes are negatively charged living organisms while the antimicrobial treatment on the mat is positively charged. The surface of the mat creates a biostatic barrier which attracts the microbes like a magnet. Did you know that a common doormat acts as a breeding ground for bacteria and microbes to collect and grow? Every time you step on it you’re wiping off the daily collection and simply re-contaminating with the previous days germs.

Even simply spraying your doormat with disinfectant once a week will help cut down on the level of germs and bacteria entering your home.

Without wanting to state the obvious, flooring is an essential component to a home. The type of flooring you choose has a huge effect on a room and its ability to create a welcoming space. Any light that comes through the windows will hit the floor. By having light coloured flooring you are helping to reflect the light back up into the room and making the room appear roomy, lighter and brighter. Dark, Matte floors will absorb any light entering a room where as light, glossy floors will reflect the light. So save money on your lighting bill by reflecting natural renewable light energy off your floors and into the darker recesses of your home.

Interface are a great flooring company who incorporate nature into the design of their carpets. By using Biophilic Design to create visual and physical connections with nature, they incorporate natural materials or those that mimic nature and natural forms into their products. They have created a range called ‘Urban Retreat’ which consists of three individual ranges, each made up of three pattern choices, in a variety of colours all of which work well with one another. Each piece is made from 100% recycled yarn and contain a high percentage of recycled material in the backing.

Or why not introduce a real piece of nature into your bathroom with this Moss Bathmat by Nguyen La Chanh. The moss in this lush green mat thrives in humid conditions, making your bathroom the perfect environment for it. Also, as we mentioned in previous posts, introducing greenery into your home provides you with your very own green, air filtration system, and what better place to have one than in a bathroom!

In a lifetime an average person will take around 200 million steps whilst approximately 52,000 people will pass through a busy train station every hour! It would be great if that footfall could be used to create energy. Pavegen have created a flooring tile which can do exactly that. The tile has been designed to be used in high-footfall urban environments, places such as train stations and schools etc. Every time somebody walks over the Pavegen flooring tile, renewable energy is harvested. The hidden technology converts the kinetic energy into electricity which can either be used straight away to power off-grid applications or stored in an on-board battery unit for use later on. The top surface is made from 100% recycled rubber and the base slab is constructed from over 80% recycled material.

Finally, have a look at this Mirrored Smart Floor concept, created by a designer in Germany. The prototype is a 26 square foot pressure sensing smart floor which recognises people by their weight and tracks their whereabouts to display interactive videos. The idea is that the technology can turn your floor into an interactive surface which controls the electronics in your home, lets you play games and potentially monitor elderly or disabled people. For example if you were to walk into a room, the floor can recognise your weight and play your favourite music, turn on your favourite tv channel or just simply turn the light on.

just think what more could your floors do for you? Time to start thinking smart- its the future.