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A Low-Tech Space Heater Uses Candles, For When There Is No Power But You Need Heat

An old-fashioned form of lighting can now actually warm your house.

Space heaters might do a good job of warming up cold corners of an apartment, but they also are often energy hogs–a typical electric heater can use as much power as a window air conditioner. But it’s possible to get a little extra heat without any electricity or gas.

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A new device called Egloo turns four candles into a low-tech heater. Sandwiched between terracotta domes shaped like a large hamburger bun (or an igloo), the candles quickly warm up the small area inside the device. An opening at the top sends heat out into the rest of the room, even after the candles have burned out several hours later.


In about 20 minutes, the device can raise the temperature in a small room by about 3-5 degrees–not enough to serve as a main heat source in cold climates, but enough to make a slightly chilly room comfortable. A day’s supply of candles costs just ten cents.

“I often read at night, and the room in which I work gets cold very easily,” Italian designer Marco Zagaria explains in a new crowdfunding video for the project. “So I used to turn on an electric stove. However, it consumed a lot, so I decided to design Egloo.”

Throughout the design process, Zagaria used a mix of old and new tech. He created the basic shape by hand on a potter’s wheel, then used a 3-D printer to make a final mold. After considering various materials, he turned to the traditional Italian craft of terracotta. The material can quickly store heat and then slowly release it.

“Egloo is a project developed with the best Italian craftsmen, who in the course of the project I started to love, venturing into various manual techniques,” he says. Each of the devices is made and finished by hand.

Zagaria is currently raising funds on Indiegogo to make the first batch of Egloos. He’s also considering new variations. “I’m thinking of so many new ideas to create a new version,” he says. “I’m starting to take seriously the idea of creating a version for steam cooking dishes directly on the kitchen table.”

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About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley, and contributed to the second edition of the bestselling book "Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century."

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