Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to power your home with clean energy, and yet, many Americans don’t know how to make the switch. Luckily, you don’t have to install expensive solar panels or switch utility companies to support a cleaner, sustainable future. If you’re interested in supporting clean energy and saving money on your power bill, consider Arcadia.
Arcadia is a platform that makes it easy for homeowners and renters to choose clean, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. You can visit Arcadia’s website and input your ZIP code to see how clean energy compares to traditional sources in your area. To power your home with clean energy, all you have to do is connect your utility bill, and you can choose between wind and community solar farms in your area, or you can use Arcadia’s Smart Rate to find the lowest price available. In fact, you’ll even save money on your power bill if clean energy is cheaper in your area.
You shouldn’t have to make major strides to switch to clean energy sources. Sign up with Arcadia and make the switch today. Learn more here, and get a $20 Amazon gift card or 4 standard LED bulbs just by signing up.
) can be of great help. These devices can help keep you motivated when doing exercise. Their constant feedback about the calories you burn will help you go the extra mile. You can even add friends on some of these devices and compare your activity data.
2. Get Rid of Distractions
If you’re unable to get creative because you open Facebook or check your messages every five minutes, you need to get rid of these distractions.
You can also try apps that limit your time on social media. We recommend OFFTIME, Moment, or Flipd.
3. Have a Snack
Hunger can play havoc with our ability to get things done. A research paper published by Science Daily shows that our stomach produces ghrelin, a hormone that affects our decision making abilities and can lead to impulsive choices.
There are several helpful apps such as Noom that will not just find the right snack according to your cravings, but also find a way for you to achieve your fitness goals.
Once you’ve satisfied your stomach your brain may just let you get back to work.
4. Come Up With 100 Bad Ideas
Instead of coming up with something good, come up with something awfully bad. And a lot of it. So that there’s no pressure on you.
If you’re a writer, come up with 100 bad story ideas. If you’re a musician, come up with a 100 awful tunes. And if you’re an architect, come up with 100 bad designs for buildings.
You can create your list of bad ideas on apps like Evernote or Google Keep. These apps store all of their data in the cloud, meaning you can revisit it at any time.
The logic behind this method is that out of those 100 ideas, a couple will always turn out to be good. When you try to create something absurdly bad, you utilize a creative side that you hadn’t ever explored before.
5. Change your Surroundings
You don’t have to make big changes. Just change something in your environment. Replace the items on your desk and reorganize the space you’re in. If you work in a typical office cabin environment, try adding some colors to your cabin.
Make use of apps such as Houzz to give your home workspace a virtual makeover before investing any real money. You can also get ideas from Pinterest or Tumblr.
Fresh surroundings make way for fresh ideas.
6. Organize Your Thoughts Visually
There are several platforms that let you organize your thoughts in a better way to help your creativity. Websites like Coggle, Popplet, and MindMaster help you visualize your ideas using flowcharts or drawing tools.
This lets you get a better picture of your ideas and reach solutions faster.
7. Discuss Your Ideas Online
You’ll find several forums where there are experts who will happily share their opinion on your creative piece. For example, if you are an artist, you can showcase your art on DeviantArt and interact with other users. There’s a thriving community that can offer you support and inspiration.
Reddit is full of great communities on every subject you can think of. And you can either be a passive participant reading other people’s threads or an active member starting conversations. Either way, as you discuss things with others, you might find a creative angle you didn’t consider earlier.
8. Listen to Happy Music
Research suggests that listening to happy music can trigger creativity. Music is known to enhance cognition and improve memory and learning, which boosts creativity as well.
Maybe all you need to restore your creative energy is a little dose of happy music. And all you need to do to find it is open up your favorite streaming service—whether it’s Apple Music or Spotify—and search for “Happy Music”.
9. Meditate to Regain Focus
It sounds cliche but if you get rid of all thoughts (or at least try to clear your current thoughts), you get to reach your spiritual side. Even if you don’t have a lot of time, it’s the consistency that matters and not the duration. If you can spend just 3-5 minutes a day meditating, it can help your creative energies.
While most people have heard of meditation, many don’t try it because they find it difficult to focus. If you’re one of these people, you can seek help from meditation apps such as Insight Timer and Calm.
10. Enjoy a Little Humor
If you’re planning to reap the benefits of technology to be creative, have fun while you’re at it. Research suggests humor can enhance creative thinking as it lets you associate ideas more broadly and freely.
So don’t hesitate to watch funny videos on YouTube or to browse funny GIFs on Giphy.
Creativity cannot be forced. Let go of the pressure and have a laugh. But make sure online entertainment doesn’t become too much of a distraction for you. Remember, everything is good in moderation.
Carry on Training Your Brain
Creativity is like a muscle. If you don’t use it for a long time, it will lose its strength. You need to flex it every day so that it stays healthy. While some people are naturally better at it, others can build it with practice.
Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to power your home with clean energy, and yet, many Americans don’t know how to make the switch. Luckily, you don’t have to install expensive solar panels or switch utility companies to support a cleaner, sustainable future. If you’re interested in supporting clean energy and saving money on your power bill, consider Arcadia Power.
Arcadia Power is a platform that makes it easy for homeowners and renters to choose clean, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. You can visit Arcadia Power’s website and input your ZIP code to see how clean energy compares to traditional sources in your area. To power your home with clean energy, all you have to do is connect your utility bill, and you can choose between wind and community solar farms in your area, or you can use Arcadia Power’s Smart Rate to find the lowest price available. In fact, you’ll even save money on your power bill if clean energy is cheaper in your area.
You shouldn’t have to make major strides to switch to clean energy sources. Sign up with Arcadia Power and make the switch today. Learn more here, and get a $20 Amazon gift card or 4 standard LED bulbs just by signing up.
The GE Energy Star 115-Volt Electronic Room Air Conditioner AHC08LY ($329) is an 8,000-BTU Wi-Fi-enabled window unit that you can control with your phone or with your voice. It offers support for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri voice commands, and it works with other smart home devices via Apple HomeKit and IFTTT applets. It also uses your phone’s location services to cool down rooms in your home before you arrive and offers flexible scheduling options and energy usage reports. You’ll pay a bit more for this model than you will for a non-connected AC, and you might need some assistance installing it, but the GE AHC08LY is hands-down the smartest room air conditioner we’ve come across and is our first Editors’ Choice for the category.
Design and Features
Designed for rooms up to 350 square feet, the AHC08LY air conditioner delivers 8,000 BTUs and is Energy Star certified. The white enclosure weighs 49 pounds and measures 14.6 by 19.0 by 15.9 (HWD) inches. It fits in windows 24 to 38 inches wide with a minimum opening height of 15.1 inches. It’s a top air discharge AC with a four-way adjustable louver.
Between the louver and the filter grill is a control panel with a power button, a white backlit digital temperature readout, a Mode button (Cool, Energy Saver, Fan Only), a Fan Speed button (Low, Medium, High, Auto), and indicators for Wi-Fi, Filter (replacement), and Sleep. The Sleep button lets you configure the AC to reduce fan speed during night hours for quieter operation and reduced energy usage. The panel will display the current room temperature and mode, the target temperature, and the fan speed for one minute before it goes dark. To see these readings again, simply press any button on the control panel or the included remote. You can press and hold the Sleep button for five seconds to disable the auto dimming feature if you prefer.
The AHC08LY uses an embedded 2.4GHz Wi-Fi radio that connects to your home network and allows you to control it using GE’s Comfort app for Android and iOS devices. It also lets you add the AC to your Apple HomeKit platform and control it and other HomeKit devices using Scenes and Automations, but you’ll need an Apple TV or another device that acts as an Apple Home Hub for Automations.
In addition to HomeKit, the AHC08LY supports Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri voice commands that allow you to do things like turn it on and off, switch modes, and change the target temperature and fan speed. Other smart features include support for IFTTT (If This Then That) recipes that allow it to interact with other connected device such as security cameras, smart plugs, and thermostats. Location Assist uses your phone’s location to automatically adjust temperature and fan settings when you are home, away, on vacation, or in Sleep mode. It’s far more interactivity than you get with the Frigidaire Gallery window unit, which really only supports basic app control.
The GE Comfort mobile app is easy to use. It opens to a screen that lists all of your GE connected devices. Tap the air conditioner tab to open a Device screen with a large circle that displays the AC’s current status. The screen will be gray and the circle will display OFF when the AC is turned off, and when the AC is on the screen turns blue and the circle displays the current room and target temperatures, the mode, and the fan speed. Above the circle is the current outside temperature reading for your area: Tap it to open a seven-day forecast. Just below the circle is the current power draw in KWh.
At the bottom of the screen are buttons labeled Routines, On/Off, and Energy. Use the On/Off button to turn the AC on and off and the Routines button to enable Location Assist and configure Home, Away, Sleep, and Vacation settings. Here you can also create daily schedules to have the air conditioner turn on and off with specific target temperatures and fans speeds. The Energy button takes you to an Energy Monitoring screen where you can view the daily history of power usage (in KWh).
Back at the Device screen is a house icon in the upper right corner that lets you manually switch between Home, Away, Sleep, and Vacation modes, as well as add new devices to your account. Tap the gear icon in this screen to adjust time zone settings, manage Location Assist settings, edit account information, and link to GE’s support site. The three-bar icon opens a menu where you can enable filter replacement alerts, set temperature units (Celsius or Fahrenheit), and update the firmware.
The AHC08LY comes with a 4.7-inch remote control with On/Off, Mode, Fan Speed, Delay, and Temperature Up and Down buttons. It also comes with two adjustable side panels, a mounting rail, an owner’s manual, mounting screws and hardware, and weather stripping.
Installation and Performance
The unit isn’t difficult to install, but it does weigh almost 50 pounds and requires some physical effort and possibly an assistant to help lift it into a window frame. I installed the AC in a bedroom window and had to remove the lower window panel in order to meet the minimum height requirement, but that was simply a matter of pressing two release buttons and lifting the window out.
I prepared the air conditioner by installing the top rail using the included screws and attaching the two side panels. I lifted the AC into the window opening and used the remaining screws and hardware to secure it to the frame and the upper window. After applying some weather stripping insulation, I plugged it in and moved on to setting up Wi-Fi.
I downloaded the mobile app, created an account, and tapped the plus button in the app to add the AHC08LY to my network. Following the app’s instructions, I pressed the Wi-Fi button on the AC and entered the network and password information found on the right side of the unit. The app immediately recognized the device. Next, I selected my network SSID, entered my network password, and waited around 30 seconds for the app to log into the cloud and add the AC to my account. I gave it a name and the installation was complete.
The AHC08LY did a superb job of cooling of my 360-square-foot bedroom. It needed around 30 minutes to bring the room temperature down to 68 degrees from its current temperature of 77 degrees. The fan was relatively quiet, but not as quiet as the fan used on the Hisense 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner. The AHC08LY reacted instantly to remote control and mobile app commands to turn on and off, change the target temperature, and raise and lower the fan speed, and it followed my cooling schedule to a tee. Alexa and Siri voice commands also worked perfectly, as did my HomeKit Arrive Home scene to have the AC turn on along with a Hunter Signal 54-inch ceiling fan.
I created an IFTTT applet to have a Philips Hue light turn on when the AHC08LY reached its target temperature, and it too worked without issue. The Location Assist feature always turned the unit off when I left the house and set the target temperature to 70 degrees when I returned home, and power-usage reporting was right in line with the readings I received from a Kill-A-Watt power meter.
With the GE Energy Star 115-Volt Electronic Room Air Conditioner (AHC08LY), you don’t have to worry about forgetting to turn the AC off when you leave the house, and will always return to a perfectly cooled room. It performed wonderfully in our tests and responded instantly to app and remote control commands. As with any window air conditioner, you may need a helping hand while installing the unit, but once you do, you’ll enjoy its numerous smart features including support for Apple HomeKit and Alexa, Google, and Siri voice commands, Location Assist, and the ability to have the AC interact with other smart devices via IFTTT applets. All this earns it our Editors’ Choice for smart air conditioners.
Tired all the time? You’re certainly not alone. If you’re looking for ways to feel more energized, we’ve rounded up some practical and useful tips.
It’s not unusual to hear people complain about feeling tired any given day of the week. Fatigue is a common issue in today’s fast-paced world where balancing work, family, and self-care isn’t easy. To-do lists are long, and people treat sleep like a luxury. The exhaustion leads to stress, poor decision-making, bad eating habits (because who has time to plan for a good meal when you’re tired all the time), and a host of other resulting issues.
If you’re looking for a place to start pushing back against the constant feelings of exhaustion, we’re here to help. Let’s take a look at ways you can boost your energy levels.
Rule Out Health Problems
Before we dig into our tips, let’s get one thing out of the way immediately. Sometimes the underlying cause of fatigue is not as straightforward as a stressful lifestyle. If resting doesn’t help and feelings of tiredness persist for no apparent reason, consult your doctor. There are a variety of conditions that could be affecting your energy levels, and it’s good to get a checkup right away to rule out any illness that might require proper treatment. No amount of extra sleep or exercise can put a dent in a critical deficiency of a key vitamin, mineral, or hormone, for instance, so ruling out such matters is essential.
On top of the more cut and dry issues like anemia, mental conditions generally don’t present physical symptoms, so it’s easy to overlook that aspect of your health. We often forget that mental health is as important as a healthy body. Begin by keeping track of your emotions and try to identify any mental patterns relating to your feelings of exhaustion. Conditions like anxiety, which involves feeling nervous and irritable, and depression, which consists of feelings of sadness and hopelessness, can cause insomnia and sleep disruption, resulting in consistent low energy levels.
If your mind is feeling overwhelmed, and you think you could benefit from talking about it with someone, consider finding a therapist. They can help you explore your feelings, identify any emotional issue, and overcome them by appropriately addressing them.
Schedule Relaxation Into Your Week
While psychotherapy can also help with stress, there are a variety of ways you can deal with it yourself if you believe that’s the only issue you’re facing. The healing process is very personal, as everyone has a preference when it comes to relaxing. Reading, painting, exercising, yoga, meditation, quality time with loved ones, and talking with friends are all useful tools and activities that can help you feel more relaxed and at peace. Relaxing your body and reducing the amount of stress hormones circulating makes it a lot easier to get a good night’s sleep and to feel relaxed (but not exhausted) during the day.
Exercise Regularly for a Cheap and Easy Boost
It might sound counterintuitive, but the more you move, the more energy you have daily. Though a cardio session might make you feel exhausted afterward, the feeling is only temporary, and you can rest assured you will enjoy some good night sleep. Exercising helps with oxygenation levels and releases endorphins, chemicals that act as analgesics (they reduce pain) and boost your mood. The fact that working out also helps you shrink your waistline is the cherry on top. Find a sport or a type of workout that you enjoy and integrate it into your routine. You will start to feel the difference in your mood, energy, and sleeping patterns in no time.
Grandma Was Right: Get Outside in the Fresh Air
Many modern workers are prone to spending most of their time indoors, which can really put a dent in your energy levels and mood. This is a combination problem brought on by the lack of fresh air (indoor air quality is usually pretty abysmal), lack of exercise (even when we try not to, we spend a lot of time sitting at our office jobs), and lack of sunlight—which stimulates the production of vitamin D, serotonin and melatonin, a feel-good hormone and a sleep-regulating hormone respectively. The issue becomes even more severe during winter for some people when the limited sunlight and extended time spent indoors can morph into seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a condition marked by constant fatigue and depression.
For that reason, it’s important to find the time to enjoy the outdoors. This is an excellent opportunity to combine our two previous suggestions in one activity—head outside to relax, exercise, and get the fresh air and sunshine you need.
For instance, many people find that a quiet walk in the woods or a simple walk around the neighborhood with the dog helps them feel more relaxed. Others prefer jogging around the park or along a body of water. You could even consider mediating or doing yoga somewhere peaceful and grounding like an open field or even your garden. Anything that can help you take your mind off your daily stress and leads you to spend time closer to nature will benefit you greatly.
Get Enough Sleep
Many people underestimate the significance of good night sleep, both in terms of quantity and quality. Adults should get 7-9 hours of undisrupted sleep, which is sometimes hard to achieve when dealing with a busy schedule and poor lifestyle choices. Habits like taking naps throughout the day and reading a book on the phone before bed, for instance, are common yet counterproductive. Instead, avoid naps, avoid screen time an hour before going to bed, and engage in a relaxation technique to put you to sleep.
Social jet lag is another issue faced by many. Come the weekend, it’s not unusual for people to sleep in, either because of a late Friday night or to compensate a whole week of early wakeup calls. However, this minor shift in your sleeping routine can disrupt your circadian rhythm, causing fatigue, bad mood, and other health problems if it becomes a habit. Instead, try sticking to your routine and making the most out of your 7-9 hours of sleep.
Evaluate Your Diet
A healthy diet contributes to good health. Processed foods, excess sugar, and any fast-burning carbohydrate, like cookies and cake, can make your glucose levels spike before leaving you feeling sluggish and unable to focus. Further, a poor diet doesn’t just leave you feeling sluggish after a sugary snack, not getting a good mix of critical micronutrients over time can leave you feeling perpetually ready to fall into bed. A deficiency in specific vitamins and minerals can cause fatigue and insomnia on top of other health issues. An example is iron deficiency, also known as anemia, which inhibits your body’s inability to carry enough oxygen to the brain, making you feel exhausted and foggy. Low levels of B vitamins can also lead to lack of energy and feelings of weakness due to the nervous system experiencing the depletion of its essential micronutrients to work efficiently.
Because no two people have the same diet, it’s good to evaluate what you eat in an attempt to find room for small changes that can positively affect your health. It’s also worth considering your genetics as certain conditions that affect your energy levels can be inherited and might require an appropriate diet and lifestyle. Anemia, for instance, not only affects women more than men due to the monthly blood loss they experience during their menstrual cycle, but it can also be inherited, leading to a necessary regular iron supplement intake. Type 2 diabetes is also linked to diet and fatigue, highlighting the significance of a pre-emptive health check to consider a change in your eating habits.
If you’re healthy, to keep your energy from plummeting after a meal or a snack, stick to a balanced diet centered around foods with a low glycemic index, as their sugars will be absorbed more slowly and will keep you going for longer. Such foods include whole grains, nuts, oats, berries, healthy fats (like the monosaturated fats found in nuts and olives, among other foods), and leafy greens, which are also rich in iron and fiber.
Don’t be afraid to break away from traditional eating patterns too. If eating three big meals a day doesn’t work for you, opt for more frequent and smaller portions. It provides your body with a steady supply of energy and keeps you from overeating and feeling sluggish after a big meal.
Watch Your Caffeine Intake
Coffee might give you a temporary boost of physical and mental energy, but it will also leave you feeling lethargic the moment the effect wears off. That’s because caffeine isn’t giving you energy; it’s just masking how tired you feel (the same way popping a few ibuprofen doesn’t heal your pulled muscle; it only hides the soreness).
Minimize your caffeine intake to prevent your body from depending on it to feel at its best. To avoid experiencing withdrawals, slowly lower the number of cups of coffee you have per day until you feel comfortable to go without it for two weeks in a row. If you see any improvements in your energy levels, you got yourself a new lifestyle habit. Even if you love coffee, after the experiment you may find that a single cup with breakfast is all you need.
Mind Your Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol can also cause you to feel tired, mainly because it dehydrates your body, causes brain fog, and lowers the quality of your sleep. Long-term use can lead to a variety of conditions, including depression, which is directly related to fatigue, as previously mentioned. Avoid binge drinking and refrain to enjoying alcohol every once in a while.
When you do drink, try to avoid drinking close to bedtime. Even though drinking feels like something that sets you up deep sleep, it’s an illusion. You’ll usually fall asleep quickly after a few stiff drinks, to be sure, but alcohol disrupts deep and restorative sleep.
Drink Plenty of Water
It’s cheap, effective, and readily available: when in doubt, drink water. Dehydration can lead to sluggishness and foggy thinking. Always replenish your fluids by keeping a bottle of water at hand. And if you find the lack of flavor unappealing, try squeezing some lemon or adding a few mint leaves.
Consider Quitting Smoking
You don’t need us to tell you that smoking isn’t great for you. But you may not have thought about how it relates to your feelings of exhaustion. Between the decreased oxygen absorption and the stimulation that messes with your sleep cycles, it’s not the greatest habit for fostering deep and restorative sleep. Nicotine, the stimulant found in cigarettes, has similar effects to caffeine in that it accelerates your heart rate and increases your blood pressure.
Quitting isn’t easy, but there are plenty of tools that can help, from over-the-counter and prescription medication to counseling, from journaling to apps.
Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed? Don’t be—the little and big changes listed here add up quickly and you’ll start feeling more energized in no time.