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Smart energy

We’re testing a new app with members to make car charging smarter

A photo of the Project Juice app on a smartphone

The way we charge electric cars could make better use of electricity on the grid. We’re testing a new app with our members to help them charge their cars when power is cheaper and greener.

Our mission is to lower our members’ bills and reduce their carbon emissions. And we think there are new ways to help electric vehicle owners do just that. So we’ve partnered with smart-charging startup Intellicharge to build an app that automatically schedules your charging. We’re calling the trial ‘Project Juice’.

Imagine you drive an electric car. You get home from work in the evening and plug it in. At the same time, people across the UK are getting home from school or work too. So they’re turning on the lights in their homes, cooking dinner, relaxing in front of the TV – perhaps they’re also charging their cars. 

When everyone uses electricity at the same time, it puts a high demand on the energy grid. The higher the demand, the higher the wholesale price for energy. And the more likely it is that power stations using fossil fuels will be fired up to meet the demand.

A graph showing the best time to charge your electric car is between 1am and 8am

Now imagine that scenario again. But this time, when you get home and plug in your electric car, our app knows that you don’t need your car to be charged until the morning.

So it waits until the grid is cheaper and greener before it starts charging. And over time you can see how much money and CO2 you have saved.

A mock up of the Project Juice smart charging app
Screens from the Project Juice smart-charging app

We’re starting small

Integrating hardware and software can be tricky, and we also want to make sure we understand what people want for their electric cars. So we’re trialling Project Juice with 15 of our members. Last week we installed the first smart charger at a member’s home.

A photograph of a Bulb smart-charger in our member's home

This trial is all about learning. We’ll be talking to our members to collect their feedback and analysing data from the way they use the app. These insights will help us iterate on our design, to build a product that works for our members.

With electric car ownership increasing, it’s vital that we get smarter about charging, both for our members and for the energy infrastructure of the UK.

This is just the beginning of our work with electric cars and smart charging. So we’d love to hear what you think. Join the discussion in the Bulb Community.