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Finally, a Gadget That Will Make Your Erratic Radiator Chill Out

Alyssa Bereznak
National Correspondent, Technology
Yahoo Tech

Most of my problems are rooted in my lack of sleep. And most of my lack of sleep is rooted in my uncontrollably hot and noisy radiator. Radiator Labs CEO Marshall Cox had the same problem, so he went and invented the Kickstarter project Cozy in an attempt to solve it.

Cozy is like a onesie for your radiator. You slip it on over your heater and the cover’s thermo-lining traps in the heat. That cover is connected to a sensor, which measures your room’s temperature. When the room gets cold, mini-fans connected to it turn on and push heat out. When your space is adequately warmed, the fans automatically turn off, and the heat remains in its onesie (where it belongs). 

You can control these fans via an iOS or Android app on your smartphone, like you would a connected thermostat, via a handy WiFi chip sewn into the cover. Though still in development, the app would allow you to program times to turn the radiator on, to set a specific temperature and to adjust long-term settings for when you leave on vacation.

The covers, meanwhile, come in three sizes, to fit the vast selection of old steam contraptions cemented in city buildings across the world. Unfortunately, they’re not designed to muffle the incessant clanking of your heating system, which usually comes from the pipes in your wall, not the radiator itself. The cover’s quarter-inch lining will, at best, drown the banging out a teensy bit. 

As for the added background noise of the fans, Cox assured us that they will be as discreet as possible. They’re designed to turn on very slowly, over the course of two to five minutes. “That’s outside the ability of a human to really concentrate on it,” he said.

Though they’ve tested prototypes, no one has yet used the final product. So we don’t know how effective the Cozy actually is. The project has also turned out to be expensive: Despite three years of work, and being awarded a $200,000 cash prize from MIT for some of the company’s developments, Radiator Labs still needs to hire a few design and engineering professionals to iron out kinks and to develop apps for both iOS and Android.

The project is also affected by the number of Cozys that will actually be produced (a classic Kickstarter problem). When the high-quality materials they’re using aren’t ordered in bulk, Cox says, the manufacturer isn’t cut much of a break price-wise. As an engineer, he couldn’t bear to skimp on quality. The result is that the Cozy is made to last for about “5 to 10 years.” That’s a vague timeframe, but for any electronic item subjected to such intense heat changes, even five years is a significant amount of time.

And the big question: Why not just spend a couple hundred bucks on an air conditioner? “That’s the worst thing you can do for the environment,” Cox tells us. “And you’d probably spend a lot more money on electricity anyway.”

Ultimately, he says, the Cozy’s worth comes down to how unhappy you are in your living space.

“Do you get up every night to turn your radiator off?” he asks. “How much is it worth to you to never have to worry about the temperature in your apartment again? If you are miserable enough in your apartment, $250 is completely worth it,” he says. “And if you’re not, you’re not.”

The Cozy has 28 days left to reach its $100,000 Kickstarter goal and is only a 10th of the way there.

But if you have suffered through your radiator’s hot flashes like so many of us, you might want to consider backing the project. Pay $249 now and you can be first to get it in 2014 — just in time for next winter.

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