At home with Q&A: Phil Spencer

TVs Phil Spencer is on the campaign trail on behalf of Smart Energy GB to inspire households to install a smart meter but took time out to answer our Q&A

How would describe your home? A third of it is a very old barn and two thirds of it is modern but was built in a barn style five years ago. We have got barn architecture without the compromises. There's lots of wood and glass and the interior has a mix of very old things and very new things. I like collecting interesting pieces and my wife, who's Australian, likes modern clean lines.

What is on your interiors wish list? We need some art. We've lived in our home for two years and we haven't yet hung all the pictures we brought with us, probably because they aren't right for the house. When we buy something it's because we both love it, so therefore there is a hesitation but that attitude is wearing thin with me because there are empty walls.

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Which household items could you not live without? I couldn't live without my Nespresso machine, not because I drink loads of coffee, but because I remember seeing this T-shirt which said that life is too short for bad coffee and I thought, “That is so right”. When I was living in London I could just go out for a good coffee, but that's not as easy when you live in the countryside. I also like having the radio on, so I couldn't live without Sonos, which you can have in every room.

What is your favourite building and why? Nothing beats Buckingham Palace. I was lucky enough to be invited for lunch there and was really delighted to see that it is significantly better than any home I've ever been to. I don't know what I was expecting. I thought I'd seen spectacular but Buckingham Palace was something else.

You and Kirstie are a great team - what's the secret to this long and happy professional partnership? Friendship is the bedrock of it. It's a firm friendship with loyalty, trust, niceness and fun.

If you were Housing Minister what would you do and why? I would give local authorities more power to raise money to build homes themselves. I'd also explore the idea of removing housing from the political agenda like they've

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done with interest rates which are now governed by the Bank of England. We have a housing crisis in this country which has come about from short-term housing policies. If we had a long-term, non-political vision looking ahead 25 years then I think that would be a much more effective approach.

You're championing free smart meters. Why do we need them? If everyone installed a smart meter, they would be taking a small but important step towards a cleaner, greener, smarter future that could also collectively save the UK nearly £560 million a year. A smart meter could help households save enough energy each year to power their home for a week. Households can ask for a smart meter to be fitted by their energy supplier for free.

What is your ideal home? My current home but my favourite place in the world is Byron Bay in Australia.

Who would you most like to invite to dinner? Ian Botham. He was my childhood hero. I played a lot of cricket and had two scrap books devoted to his antics in the early and mid 1980s. I've always admired and respected him and I like what he has done for charity.

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