Smart thermostats work well in homes or apartments with central heat and air, but how do renters take more control over their heating and cooling when their apartments are outfitted with radiators? Considering the prevalence of these heating mechanisms in cities such as New York, it’s a problem in desperate need of a solution. Thanks to a team of designers at the School of Visual Art’s Products of Design program, that solution could soon be on the way.
Andres Iglesias, Brandon Washington, and Lucy Knops were inspired to tackle the problem during an MFA class assignment requiring them to build upon an existing product; they chose the smart thermostat Nest and created Heat Flow, a do-it-yourself kit designed specifically to regulate heat in older apartment buildings. Whether you’re dealing with radiators with two settings (“on” and “off”) or simply don’t have access to your heating and cooling controls, Heat Flow may one day be able to help warm up your home better.
Unlike Nest, Heat Flow isn’t app-controlled or self-learning. Three fans surrounded by cardboard circulate the air to the radiator to heat the room more quickly and keep it from becoming concentrated in one area. That’s it, and the price reflects the simplicity: The designers project the kits will cost $10.
The designers admit there are already several “hacks” renters have invented for this problem; commercial options, such as COZY, sort of a high-tech beer cozy for radiators, are also available or coming soon. However, the team is planning to also launch an online platform, Radlabs, to give renters a go-to place to find and submit tips, tricks, and new products.
The kits aren’t yet available; Washington tells Fast Company that the cardboard they’ve been using isn’t fire-resistant, something that needs to be remedied before they sell the kits to consumers.
Until then, here are a few low-tech hacks to help reduce your heating bill this winter.