BUSINESS UNUSUAL By Dr KAMAL JIT SINGH
‘Rinnovating’ your home to be greener and cheaper to maintain can sometimes be just a matter of choice of colour or materials, and the result is an improved quality of life.
INNOVATION, contrary to popular belief, is not exclusive to scientists, inventors and tech companies. It isn’t an alien concept that will overwhelm the average Joe or some complicated formula that becomes a magic potion for big problems.
More often than not, innovation is simplifying complicated things, whether it’s a product or a process. Innovative products or processes may result in new wealth being created, increased productivity and efficiency and so on.
The bottom line is, innovation is something we all can do by challenging conventions, asking the right questions and thinking outside the box. And the result is an improved quality of life.
And what better place to start living innovatively than right at home?
In the context of our homes, innovation can be applied to improve not only the livability and comfort of the house, but also security, safety, and health levels, environmental impact and maintenance costs, in addition to prolonging the lifespan of the structure and its contents.
When we talk about a home being comfortable and livable, the most immediate requirement that comes to mind will be space maximisation and optimisation.
With home-owning costs skyrocketing, most of us have had to pay more for less space, especially in urban areas like the Klang Valley.
With things only getting tougher for the next generation, the first innovative ideas involve picking fixtures, furniture and accessories that are not only functional and aesthetically pleasing, but also don’t take up too much space, are multi-taskable, expandable or collapsible.
Reorganise your storage areas and utilise unused space (wall mounted shelves are a good example).
There are many innovative products out there that can make your dwelling a 21st century home, but understandably, getting them will probably set you back quite a bit.
Innovating your home doesn’t have to cost a bomb. In fact, innovatively renovating (“rinnovating”, perhaps?) your home to be greener, cheaper to maintain can be DIY (do-it-yourself), and sometimes it’s a matter of choice of colour or materials that make the difference.
Allow more natural lighting into the house by either having more windows or picking lighter coloured curtains, furniture and paint. Put up mirrors to reflect lights around the house — they also help to give the illusion of space.
Use energy-saving bulbs and low-energy appliances, solar-powered outdoor appliances and heaters, in addition to collecting rainwater for general washing purposes.
Check the pipes and cables, ensuring they are maintained to prevent leakages. These choices not only save you money, but help save the environment, too.
Encourage occupants to live better or adopt better and healthier lifestyles, like separating recyclable wastes, recycling old products and used packages, repurposing them and extending their lifespan.
Stick reminders to inculcate the habit in everyone in the household to switch off appliances and lights when not in use. Encourage the family to exercise by placing things that naturally go together in different rooms or on different floors.
If you absolutely must get a video game console for your children, go for wii, which requires gamers to move more muscles in their bodies than just their fingers to enjoy the games.
Better yet, get your kids sports gear or bicycles and devise an innovative way to chase them out of their rooms and play outside every evening!
Plant certain herbs like citronella, horsemint or marigold that repel mosquitoes. That way, you avoid using harmful chemical-based insecticides and save, too, in addition to having a lovely garden.
Needless to say, there are millions of ways to innovate your home and the household, according to your taste, budget and needs. The point is for you to be constantly excited about truly improving your home.
After all, who says smart buildings are only the modern skyscrapers?
> Datuk Dr Kamal Jit Singh is the CEO of Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM). It is the vanguard of innovation in Malaysia. Established by the Government through an Act of Parliament, AIM will be the driving force behind Malaysia’s push towards establishing an innovation economy.