An Italian design student dreamed up a gizmo that he claims can heat a room for 10 cents a day. I just paid $700 to half-fill an oil tank that, if I’m Scrooge-like with that “on” switch, will heat my 3-bedroom Amman flat for maybe 6 weeks. Could Marco Zagaria’s Egloo heater really work? As I read the data on his fundraising site, the radio started playing an old Doors tune, Come on baby, light my fire!, and I choked on my tea.
Egloo is a tiny terracotta heater that heats a room by candle power. It has four elements: a base, grill and two domes. Using it is a snap. Position four small candles in the base, insert a grilled support and pop on the twin domes. The thinner dome sits centrally on the base and stores high heat (140° to 180° degrees) which it conveys to the cooler external dome (30° to 50° degrees); a thermal exchange naturally occurs with warmed air – stored between the domes – escaping through the air intake into the surrounding space.
The room temperature will rise about 3°C degrees in 30 minutes. Too many variables to decide if that’s enough to let you flip off your conventional heating.
Egloo’s simple, compact shape makes it highly portable. It weighs about 1 kilogram and is available in three finishes: natural, vibrantly colored and enameled.
Once you fire up the candles, the heater takes about five minutes to warm up. Non-metallic terracotta is an extremely ductile inorganic compound that has a high heat-storing capacity which then slowly conveys thermal energy to the surrounding environment.
Zagaria’s candles burn for about five hours and generate enough energy to warm up a 20 cubic meter space. He says the candles cost 10 cents in Italy – but you can score them cheaply almost anywhere.
Local heating oil prices have dipped about 20% this past month due to the global drop in crude, but winter in northern Jordan is nippy. These past weeks have been very wet, and severe blizzards have paralyzed the capital city in the past three years. Heat in my old building is an all-or-nothing deal, and warming every room when I’m the only one home is an extravagance neither my wallet nor eco-awareness will tolerate. I’d been lusting after small oil heaters and the towers of electric space heaters now crowding supermarket aisles – but it would be so much cooler to get warmer without electricity.
If this project appeals, you can help jumpstart it through Indiegogo funding. Initial investment goodies include first edition heaters in your choice of finishes. The late Jim Morrison once said, “Music inflames temperament.” Crank up the music, light the Egloo – and maybe say goodbye to the oil man.