Put the Light Bulb in the Driver’s Seat

  • Posted by Brian Fino

Imagine a world where a light bulb procures its own energy.

It’s a world where the individual devices in a home identify their own power needs and execute those purchases in a competitive online market. All the while, a smart hub in the home tracks usage and costs and alerts the homeowner when payment is needed.

Too good to be true? Believe it or not, these technical capabilities are available today. With the proper software and data analytics in place, here’s how it would work:

A smart light bulb – connected to the Internet – queries the energy exchange and asks to purchase 1,000 kWh to power itself over the course of its expected life. The bulb knows – from scanning the usage of the previous bulb – that the majority of its power needs were during non-peak hours, so it requests 800 kWh of non-peak power and 200 kWh of peak power.

An energy retailer sees the request, and automatically evaluates the bulb’s projected usage against its own portfolio.

The supplier has already procured power on the wholesale market for the foreseeable future. In its aggregate profile, it sees that it has unfilled capacity in the months ahead. The retailer accepts the bulb’s request.

Once the transaction is complete, it is recorded by the bulb, the home’s smart hub, the utility and the energy retailer. As the bulb consumes power, it reports its usage to the smart hub and the meter. The home’s other appliances and electronics – which have made their own power purchases on the exchange – do the same.

The homeowner periodically makes a lump sum payment to the retailer to cover the cost of energy, and the smart hub tracks the actual expenses incurred. When the sum is nearly depleted, the smart hub alerts the homeowner to replenish funds.

It sounds like science fiction, but it’s a reality we may all soon experience first-hand. Imagine that.

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