Although I’m not much of a New Year’s resolution-maker, if I have one specific goal for 2012, it's to work on lowering the anxiety-inducing monthly gas heating bills that come with living in a drafty-but-otherwise-lovely two-bedroom New York City rental apartment. (Yes, I'm one of those NYC renters who pays for his own heat). How do I plan on going about this aside from bundling up with an extra layer or two and weatherstripping the windows? Keeping my half-frozen fingers away from the thermostat and focusing instead on zone heating — heating a room individually, often with a space heater, instead of an entire living space all at once.

Generally, this is a more cost-effective way to heat individual rooms but, in the end, it all depends on local utility rates. For me, electricity is cheaper than gas, making zone heating with an electric space heater a viable solution. And thanks to eco-minded industrial designer/ vacuum wizard Sir James Dyson, I have a top-notch tool to help me achieve my zone heating goals: The Dyson Hot fan heater.

Stylish and sleek with a price tag of $400, the Dyson Hot is the Rolls-Royce of space heaters. In my opinion, the daunting price for this lean, mean zone-heating machine that took a team of 22 engineers more than two years to develop is well worth it.

For those of you familiar with the Dyson Air Multiplier, the company’s game-changing — and mind-boggling — blade-free fan released back in 2009, the Dyson Hot is essentially the same thing with a more oblong shape and the addition of two ceramic heating elements hidden beneath insulating sheaths that make the device far safer to use and easier to clean than traditional space heaters with exposed heating coils. And yes, the Dyson Hot is not only cool-looking but also blasts cool air (as cold as 32 degrees) making it a great year-round climate-controlling device.

Although the Dyson Hot isn’t a dramatically energy-efficient small appliance (it draws a typical 1,500 watts of juice), the manner in which it releases warm, “amplified” air (up to 99 degrees) into a room using patented Air Multiplier technology — quickly, forcefully, and evenly — is efficient. Plus, the Dyson Hot boasts tilting and oscillating features — something absent in many conventional space heaters — that result in more effective distribution of air. My favorite feature is the built-in “intelligent thermostat” that switches off the heating plates when a room reaches a target temperature. Working with a very cold and somewhat large living area/kitchen, I first set my Dyson Hot to 70 degrees, and in just a few moments the machine had turned itself off while leaving the entire space comfortably toasty sans any alarming smells caused by burning dust. And the room was indeed evenly heated … no cold patches to be found.

Other features of the Dyson Hot include a magnetic remote control that can be attached to the outer ring of the device when not in use, an automatic shut-off feature that kicks in when the device is knocked over, and an airflow control feature that allows users to tweak the force of the air propelled by the Hot’s brushless DC motor. And, as mentioned, the Dyson Hot is super-safe, free of fast-spinning blades or exposed heating elements. According to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, upwards of 25,000 residential fires occur each year due to space heaters while around 6,000 folks wind up in ERs annually with burn injuries from contact with the devices.

With its flawless performance and ingenious design, the only real setback of the Dyson Hot is its daunting price tag but if used carefully for zone-heating purposes in lieu of a less efficient conventional portable heater, it’s a device that could quickly pay for itself. I, for one, am in love and looking forward to seeing how the machine stands up against my AC window units when summertime rolls around. I'm also looking forward to seeing how much I can save on utility bills when using the Dyson Hot this winter in short but powerful bursts.

And in other Dyson news, the company recently released an eye-opening, MIT-conducted life cycle assessment (LCA) detailing the environmental impact of different methods of hand-drying. Not surprisingly, the Dyson AirBlade hand dryer was by far the most environmentally friendly way to dry hands; even more so than 100 percent recycled paper towels and cotton towels. You can read the executive summary of the report here

* Disclaimer: The folks at Dyson kindly provided me with a Dyson Hot fan heater to test. 

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