In 2006, as oil prices spiked and people began having trouble meeting their heating costs, one ‘tinkerer’ started looking at alternatives. Edward A. Pratt ended up creating a solar-powered solution reports The Berkshire Eagle.

Pratt, who refers to himself as a “tinkerer,” began experimenting with the idea of a self-contained, portable, energy-efficient heating device. After some trial and error he struck upon a system using solar-powered window boxes. Since then, he has been trying with some difficulty to secure a patent for the device that he believes will significantly cut people’s heating costs.

Despite his confidence in his product, he has found it hard to bridge the gap between inspiration and realization. Like many inventors before him, he has had difficulty securing a patent license, and gaining attention for his idea.

Like most creators, Pratt is somewhat guarded about speaking in too much detail about his invention.

“I went to a lawyer, and he told me that ‘people can steal that idea from you very easily.’ That scared me, and I picked it up and got out of there.”

But he will say that the unit itself will heat safely up to 120 degrees, circulating warm air for as long as the light lasts. “You wouldn’t believe it, but the strongest sun-light is in the winter.”

As it stands, the portable unit is placed in a window with the most direct light exposure, and Pratt, who has two units operating at a time in his own home, claims that they are instrumental in generating and retaining heat.

“You move them throughout the day,” he says, and take advantage of the location [of the sun]. My wife got mad at me yesterday, she said it was too hot in here, I said, ‘Well, open a door.'”

Photo by Kevin Dooley