In a society that’s living longer, expanding rapidly and being undercut by inflation, it’s inevitable that our buildings will need to adapt accordingly.
These days, many millennials are living with high student loan debt and modestly low wages. This, coupled with easy access to luxury products through high interest credit and extortionate house prices, means savings are frequently unavailable to put a deposit down on a house until people reach their thirties. So what are they doing? In many cases, moving back in with mum and dad, along with grandparents who need a bit of extra support but wants to retain some independence.
Multigenerational living is back. And is recognised in other countries as a contributor to improving well being and the more efficient use of housing stock.
But it doesn’t come without its challenges… three or four generations fighting for the bathroom in the morning and quarrelling over the heating in spring sure doesn’t make for comfortable living. Homeowners need to ensure they can retain their sanity at the same time as keeping their family happy.
This swings open a door of opportunity for the HVAC industry and many are now thinking about new ways of living and how to make customers’ lives easier. Let’s look at some examples:
Beautiful, yet practical bathrooms
When it comes to bathrooms for multiple generations, it isn’t just the functionality that people want, but also the style – they have to be happy to have it in their home. As people get older, their options have typically become restricted to bathrooms associated with practicalities and clinical designs. However, bathroom designers are now aiming to offer all-encompassing designs that tick all of the functionality and style boxes – thinking about safely managing the temperature of the water, easy to use taps and accessories, and aid for getting in and out of the bath or shower. For example TMVs (thermostat mixing valves) are a simple and hidden safety measure that families can incorporate into their bathrooms.
Hot water for growing families
Women spend on average 13 minutes in the shower and men take just seven minutes according to a recent survey by Better Bathrooms. However, the millennials that are racking up the bills are those aged 18-24 and are likely to spend more than 20 minutes in the shower. The demand for hot water in a multigenerational home is therefore inevitably high – and as the bathroom is in constant use alongside other appliances, this can significantly affect flow rates and temperatures. This is where hot water cylinders come into their own delivering to showers and baths concurrently during peak times.
Smart controls for smart families
More people in the home = higher bills. But not for the smart homeowner. Behind most front doors you’ll find a family that debate the heating temperature throughout the year. When you have a range of ages under one roof, it’s inevitable. Smart controls are a perfect solution to helping adapt room temperature in zones while driving down energy costs for mum and dad. Not only do they enable you to save energy by controlling heating remotely, connected controls can also do things like shut the boiler down if the alarm it’s connected to senses CO – this could be useful for when any older members of the family are home alone. Companies like Nest are taking it one step further to create a ‘thoughtful’ home by learning homeowner’s habits, providing intelligent alerts and having household items talk to each other. For any families trying to live under one roof, having a home that understands the frantic nature of this environment can only be an advantage.
Consumer trends are imperative to the plumbing and heating industry. Tapping into these trends turns functional products into lifestyle choices. Whatever the route to market, companies that recognise multigenerational living are ahead of the game.