Blockchained homes – How our homes will change with the new energy world.
Everyone seems to be crazily excited by the advent of the blockchain – even sporting clubs are making their own tokens for fan participation. Energy companies are also getting in on the act, bringing solutions from several different directions, most of them making customers’ lives easier, cheaper and more efficient. But with the implementation of these technologies, how will our buildings change – what will the new and improved homes look like?
Smart homes are becoming an important feature in the design and sales of new homes, as well as conversions being done to older homes. Lighting, heating, locks and almost everything can be now controlled remotely, even down to the toaster and coffee maker. Not only is control an important part of smart homes, but accessing internet information, such as recipes, or grind types for coffee machines, etc.
Smart homes also allow the owner to both save money and time, by smart usage of machines (learning owners’ habits) as well as removing the need for ordering and shopping for certain things. The key part of this that blockchain affects is security, with solutions such as Comcast’s smart home system. Their technology uses a permissions-based blockchain ledger, enabling homeowners to grant access permission to the home remotely through an application on their smartphone. In addition, it also allows them to revoke these permissions – and make all this happen in a secure way.
Smart contracts are also an important part of the ecosystem – allowing automatic ordering of supplies for home appliances, domestic cleaners, and repairers to be paid for very specific tasks, and again, all of this in a secure, simple and transparent way.
Energy Creation and Sales
Energy creation at home is becoming mass adopted in many countries – in Australia solar is the king, other places wind is the choice. In any case, people are creating their own energy from renewable sources, and often are having an excess of energy which they then want to not waste or to sell on. To achieve this, home batteries, like the Powerwall from Tesla have become popular, and are a good way of storing electricity for a small amount of time. However, even with a battery, it is easy to have over generation of energy – especially in peak creation times. Naturally then, people want to sell their excess energy instead of just letting it go to waste.
The issue though with selling energy is how to get it back into the grid in a timely, concise way that can be measured and ultimately used. This is where the blockchain, and of course smart contracts come in – making sure that the red tape stays away and the prosumers, as they now are, have the means to provide their piece of the pie.
The advent of all this technology means that both new homes and existing dwellings can include a solar array, wind turbine, or even hydroelectricity, if the means are there for such a service. It is likely that other innovative ideas for harnessing power generation will also become available because the connection and administrative technologies are now well available.
While much of the above-mentioned appliances are and will be very self-sufficient, there are still human interactions needed with many of them. Many if not all these interactions can be provided by applications on a smartphone, and those that cannot be done on a smartphone can be done by control panels in the home. These applications can be linked into a blockchain system also, for secure and transparent recordings of interactions.
Problems with the Blockchain being used in homes
The blockchain itself has some inherent problems, the basic one for IoT and energy transactions is the relatively high cost and slow confirmation rate. When so many transactions are happening in such a short time, it is perhaps better to utilize a tangle or DAG (Directed acyclic graph) based solution rather than an “ordinary” blockchain. These solutions offer almost infinite scalability, fast confirmation rates and free transactions that are more suitable for the millions of microtransactions.
The blockchain, or some version of it, will be (and is being) used in IoT applications and energy transactions. It allows a secure, fast and reliable system to enable the next generation of energy interactions.