Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirt and gritty
Summer in the City – Lovin’ Spoonful
Summer is here and the dog days are upon us.
During this heat wave, I’d like us to consider our home’s thermostats and how they might offer us some helpful energy saving techniques that can help us with our body’s energy as well. When things are at rest, they use way less energy than otherwise! Lately it has been too hot to move much anyway.
Recently I bought a Nest programmable thermostat for our townhouse. Actually, I got two – one for the upstairs unit and one for the downstairs. While at first, these thermostats seemed pricey, costing around $250 each. The more I learned about them and their capabilities, the more I am convinced of their value.
Programmable thermostats, like the Nest units I bought, work by regulating your HVAC’s run time based on a set schedule or other parameters. For example, you can set the thermostat to 74 degrees at night while you sleep and then it will automatically adjust to other temperatures throughout the day. This automatic schedule is very helpful since you don’t have to remember to adjust your thermostat’s set point throughout the day or worse just leave the unit running all day even when you are not home. Running your AC to over-cool an unoccupied house is wasteful and can be expensive.
The Nest is pretty sophisticated in learning your energy consumption patterns and reacting accordingly. Thanks to our smartphone technology the Nest will know when you are home or when you are away by syncing with your cell phone. For example, once I leave the house with my cell phone, the Nest senses this and the unit goes into the “Away” mode.
You maybe be saying yourself, “That’s great Julian, so what does it have to do with me?” I’ve got a programmable thermostat at home too.
Programmable thermostats help us conserve our energy by cycling the HVAC units to run periodically throughout the day – not constantly.
But what about our brains? How well do we regulate these energy hogs?
Energy conservation should be practiced in both our physical and spiritual homes.
Our brains are about 2% of our body mass yet they consume about 20% of our body’s energy requirements. If we can more efficiently utilize our brains we can improve the efficiency of our lives. The Brain Drain is real so be mindful of it!
Are you running your brain all day and then as a result feeling worn out by nighttime? Do you turn off your brain when you don’t need it and give it a chance to rest? Fortunately, the same energy saving principles of a programmable thermostat can be applied to how we run our brain.
Here are two helpful hacks to help give your brain a rest:
1. Pomodoro Technique (Tomato Timer)
Developed in the 1980’s by Francesco Cirillo, this technique breaks down the amount of time allocated to a task using a timer. Cirillo used a tomato timer when he was practiced and developed his technique and the Italian word for tomato is pomodoro. The basic idea behind the Pomodoro technique is that you work for a set period of time on one task, say for 25 minutes ( which is 1-pomodoro) and then take a 5-minute break where you don’t think about what you were just working on. You repeat this process for 4-times, (25 minutes of work followed by 5-minutes of rest). After 4 pomodoros are completed you take a longer 20-minute break.
Free timers may be found on-line like on-line pomodoro courtesy of Petr Nag.
I love this technique as it concentrates my mental effort to a maximum, short-burst while allowing me frequent breaks.
2. Box Breathing
Meditation is another excellent way to cycle off your brain allowing it time to rest. I confess that I still struggle consistently meditating, with my typical session lasting between 7 and 11 minutes. I have tried a variety of meditation apps in my daily practice, but simply paying attention to my breath is key for me to begin to calm my mind and my physiology. The Box Breathing app is my current favorite and an incredibly effective way to help me regulate my breath. I simply follow along with my iPhone App as it tells me when to breathe. The following picture gives you a brief tutorial on how to practice box breathing:
Additional information may be found at Box Breathing app
Concentrate your brain’s power when you need it and then give it a rest when you don’t.
Until next time, stay cool and let me know about your own settings and what works for programming your day .