Let’s face it, many of us are energy guzzlers. And much of the time, it’s not entirely our fault.

We’d all like to use less gas and electricity, but it’s tough when our homes are designed and built for another age – when energy efficiency was less of a concern.


However, the tide does seem to be changing. Intrepid architects and other dreamful individuals are finding ways to create low-cost houses that look great and have energy efficiency built into every square inch.

So next time you feel your carbon footprint’s getting too big for your boots, remember you could soon be living in…

An Eco-Friendly Barge On Stilts

Fancy making your home on a houseboat, but you’re worried about getting your feet wet? Stay tuned to the frequencies of the University of Kentucky College of Design, who are creating energy-efficient housing using manufacturing facilities which previously produced houseboats.

Sure, they’re not exactly houseboats, but their distinctive box-like design and suspended setup make them look like they could take to the waves with little more than a lick of waterproof paint and a hefty shove.

Best of all, they’re designed with energy efficiency in mind, will cost less than $100,000 (approximately £63,000), and will hopefully regenerate the area’s flagging houseboat manufacturing industry.

Home Sweet Shipping Container

Shipping containers. The ugly-but-functional evergreens of the open seas. Who’d have thought these things could make beautiful, green homes?

As it turns out, shipping containers are perfect to convert into cheap housing. They’re being utilised the world over to create economical homes in unexpected places. And despite their inherently industrial appearance, lots of them look surprisingly cosy and homely.

Most of the eco-friendly factor comes from their prefab nature and their adaptability. They’re already the right shape to work with, and they can be fitted together in a modular fashion. This means they can be put together more quickly – and with less resources – than typical family homes.

Could these be the recycled home of the future? I certainly wouldn’t mind living in one.

A House Built From Umbrellas And Billboards

This contemporary home in the Netherlands is built almost entirely from recycled materials. What’s more, many of these materials were sourced within a nine-mile radius of the house itself. Reportedly, the outside of the house is made up of salvaged stuff, whilst the interior is created using 60 per cent recycled materials.

If you’re thinking, ‘how on earth did they find enough stuff so close to the house?’, then give a curtsy to the astonishing ingenuity of 2012Architects, who managed to construct a fully-functional home using materials like cable reels, advertising signs and broken umbrellas.

Fact: the house looks awesome. And because the architects were so committed to using locally sourced materials, they cut down on landfill waste and used far fewer natural resources during the construction process.

But the real eco-friendly innovation with this home is the way the project was turned inside out. Instead of starting with a design, and finding materials to fit it, the architects sourced materials first and let them guide the design and construction process. Astonishing.

Louisa Jenkins is equally passionate about green issues and technology. One of her favorite subjects to blog about is how energy efficiency and cutting-edge tech combine to create innovative efficiency solutions.