This is 'Superhome 2000' - the year 2000 still being
futuristic in 1983 - an energy-saving house built in Milton Keynes. The
city itself was built in the early 1970s as a way to provide cheap houses
to people who needed to commute to London, and was the last gasp of the
kind of centralist urban planning that was big news at the time. Energy
conservation was a very important topic in the early-1980s - 1983 was
seeing the end of a short oil crisis and a recession, caused in part by
the Islamic revolution in Iran and the consequent destabilisation in the
Middle East, and also the Labour Party being crap in the
"Hot water on tap and whole house central heating for
mass housing are recent developments"
And indeed they were in
1983. Back then some houses had a working fireplace, one that could be
used to heat the boiler in order to create enough hot water for a bath.
When I was growing up we had an electric boiler, but we still had to
switch it on for a couple of hours in order to have a bath.
housing' wasn't as bad a phrase as it is nowadays; the crime rate in 1983
was much lower than today, and there was still a section of society that
was poor but well-educated and law-abiding. The house above would have
been very expensive in 1983, ludicrously so nowadays, and anybody who
could afford it would not want to live in 'mass housing'.
"Catastrophe theory, now a respected branch of
futurology, holds in essence that we probably won't see the edge of the
cliff before falling off."
Catastrophism is no longer a
respected branch of futurology, given that we haven't fallen off the cliff
yet. In terms of energy it's generally accepted that, over time, oil will
become harder and more expensive to find, alternative energy sources will
become cheaper and more economical, and eventually the latter will take
over from the former, assuming we haven't just said 'sod it', and gone for
nuclear power instead. There's a growing backlash at the catastrophism of
the global warming environment-type movement, although it's too early to
say which side will win. DDT is still banned, and malaria is still rampant
in poorer parts of the world because of it.
The article makes the
tentative prediction that, in the seven short years that remained of the
80s, homes might incorporate solar water and space heating, passive solar
heating, photovoltaic cells and 'air source heat pumps'. All of these
things were possible at the time but none of them happened, possibly
because the private sector would rather make a profit that not make a
profit, and the government seems to have no interest in building homes.
The contradiction between 'mass housing', and all that entails, and the
idea that the 'mass householders' would have enough money and space to
afford solar heating seems to have passed the writers by.
article has lots of stuff about keeping homes warm, but almost nothing
about keeping homes cool. Presumably 'S J Wozniak BA PhD, Principal
Scientific Officer, Building Research Establishment' - perhaps a distant
relative of Steve Wozniak, officially-erased co-founder of Apple Computer
- came from the North of the country.