We’re proud to work with some of the UK’s largest energy providers. One of the things we’ve observed is how hard these “traditional” businesses work to embrace the opportunities and challenges of the latest technology.

For example, over the last few years smart meters have been installed into approximately 1 million British homes. These gadgets engage customers with cause and effect on their energy usage using a simple and user-friendly gadget. This means about 1 million households in Britain can conduct ongoing research into how to better manage their energy consumption. Yes, much of the stuff you find out from these things is common sense, but the meters help engage people with doing the things they need to do to get the results they want – a more efficient home and lower energy bill. In effect, they help engage people with turning commonsense into common practice.

What if we could fit human beings with something like a smart meter? What if it provided you with in the moment information about the rate at which you are using your mental and physical energy? What if it could even tell you how effectively you were replenishing your mental and physical energy when you have the opportunity to rest, eat, exercise? What do you think it would tell you? Here’s what we know pretty conclusively about what a human smart meter would tell us about energy…

  • Skipping breakfast does pretty unhelpful things to energy levels throughout the rest of the day
  • Eating a sugary snack gives a short term energy boost followed by a sharp drop
  • Keeping your blood sugar levels pretty constant by eating slow energy release foods at fairly regular intervals is a good way to maintain both mental and physical energy
  • Physical activity has an interesting effect – it tends to leave you lower on physical energy in the short term, but has a high net positive impact on overall energy levels and can have a highly positive short term impact on mental energy levels
  • Getting sleep of the right quality and quantity is vital, especially for mental energy
  • There is diminishing return on the investment of working time past a certain point in a working day – working past a certain number of hours creates a disproportionate energy cost for the productivity return
  • It’s possible to achieve more in fewer hours if you take intentional, proactive breaks in a working day rather than simply waiting for unintentional breaks to happen
  • Most people have a slump in the early afternoon where both physical and mental energy are somewhat reduced
  • When low on mental energy a nap of 20 minutes or so makes a big positive difference to energy levels later in the day

So what? Well, until such time as we have a human smart meter available to monitor our energy levels, there are some things we can do to engage with cause and effect with regard to our own energy levels.

  1. Scan yourself regularly and pay attention to your energy levels and how you feel. Check for mental and physical energy. Keep an energy diary for a week or two, see what you find out.
  2. Start thinking about managing your energy as well as your time. When would you benefit from eating, taking breaks, doing some physical activity in a working day or week? Perhaps put those things in your diary as appointments with yourself and see how consistently you can stick to them. See what effect these things have on your energy levels, sense of well-being and satisfaction with life.
  3. Learn to recognise the early warning signs of slumps in your energy and try out different methods of replenishment so you can return to high quality energy levels quickly and consistently.

In the meantime, we’ll get thinking about how to produce the best possible human energy smart meter! Watch this space…