By Paul Foulkes, Wago Ltd

As we get older, a new home becomes less of a staging post and more likely to be the place where we want to settle. One home may need to meet our requirements through child rearing year to middle age and then early retirement years followed by declining health and ability. This might be a scary thought for some but it is a reality in a world of ever-rising house prices, the high costs of moving home and spiralling care costs. Staying put becomes a more and more attractive option.
KNX adapt house
With smart technology, these homes could adapt to us as our needs change. Most of us, I am sure, would prefer to live in a
home full of smart technology and gadgets that make our life easier – especially as we grow older. We also appreciate
lower running costs thanks to improved build techniques and standards.

We will want to see it when we move to our home for retirement but in reality, people of any age demand the same and anyone
of us may require care in the home. As we grow older, it could be seen as inevitable – care will be required at some point. A
well-planned smart technology installation will evolve alongside our needs. Really smart technology, well thought out, 
will automatically prepare our homes for care.

Build-in the Technology Now!
Given that any one of us may require care in the home, then every house or flat  being planned, built or refurbished now should contain this technology now. It should not be restricted to the luxury homes or purpose-built care facilities. Then we will be able to have that comfortable, safe  retirement in our own homes.

KNX offers the future-proof, adaptable answers

KNX help care The need for ‘care’ as we age does not necessarily mean that the individual is ill. Care requirements are varied and can include improved   communication, simplified access and improved security. All of these are the basics of a KNX installation.

 Once KNX is included in the building’s fabric, it can be adjusted and tailored as the needs of the individuals change, either through age or
 maybe illness, or simply because the homeowner wants to change the way they interact with their home.        
KNX switches
A smart KNX home can also be tailored to support general well-being. For example, it can provide sensory richness with audio and/or haptics; lightin
g scenarios that follow circadian rhythms to help with sleep patterns; or scenes that create certain moods using RGB and tuneable white light.

Indeed the modular construction of many KNX switches, for example lends itself, by colour, shape or texture, to helping identify devices that carry out specific actions. e.g. square blue switches always operate lighting, whilst rounded red ones operate heating etc. This can help residents with sight problems or memory loss. It makes their environment more appropriate  for  their needs which can improve safety and ease the care required. This in turn, can reduce the strain and stress on carers, whether they are professional or family members.

The vast majority of homes built today are designed around young, active, able-bodied people – whereas in reality, these people are not in the majority. We are creating a housing stock that is already outdated and will need corrective work, at cost, to make it useable.

This is NOT an effective building policy. Nor is it something that has gone unnoticed – just largely ignored. As concluded in the Helen Hamlyn Foundation publication ‘Lifetime homes, flexible housing for successive generations’ (1990): “In our anxiety to leave the housing market as free as possible we allow short-term costs to dominate our policies…every year we add to the country’s housing stock, dwellings whose inflexibility makes them even less suitable for any but the young and agile.”

We cannot carry on building homes that are not future-proofed – we need homes that are up to the job, NOW. We should take a macro approach and build homes that, with only a few changes, can be used by a majority of people at any time in their life. KNX supplies the future-proof scalable technology required to achieve this – all we need now is the political will.

Paul Foulkes MSc MIET is Building Automation Manager for Wago Ltd and a member of the KNX UK board