Eco-friendly, high-tech home

2009-12-16 18:12

Tokyo - On Tokyo Bay, at the edge of the largest urban sprawl on Earth, sits what may be an environmentalist's dream home.

Solar panels on the roof and a fuel-cell in the backyard power the family house, a lithium-ion battery stores the surplus electricity, hot water pipes double as floor heating, and good insulation saves energy all round.

But it's the little high-tech touches that give this eco-house a cutting edge when it comes to futuristic low-carbon housing.

Its maker, Panasonic, has fitted the "Eco idea house" with super-efficient and intelligent appliances that promise to save power at every turn while ensuring a comfortable lifestyle for its residents.

Sensors follow people as they move from room to room and can, for example, blast a jet of warm or cool air at a person sitting in the living room, said Panasonic group president Fumio Ohtsubo during news conference.

"If the person leaves for the kitchen, the lights there can turn on, while the (living room) lights, air-conditioner and television all turn off thanks to sensors that detect human presence, temperature and lighting," he said.

The house also boasts a washing machine that halves water use simply by tilting its drum, and a fridge that 'learns' its users' habits and switches into sleep mode when it doesn't expect to be opened for some time.

Innovations like these have made Panasonic the country's most environmentally-friendly manufacturer, according to a survey by the Nikkei business daily, ahead of Sharp, Mitsubishi Electric and NEC.