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Just Add Water

There's a humble, low-tech device for those who can't get out of a warm bed on a nippy morning but are too eco-conscious to crank up the heat: The humidifier (especially the warm-mist type). While it doesn't actually increase the temperature of indoor air, you'll think it does, because humidity slows down the evaporation of perspiration on the skin, which normally has a cooling effect. (It's the reason why 85 degrees feels much cooler in the dry Arizona desert versus the balmy, sweltering tropics). Set the humidity level at 30 to 40 percent: High enough to hydrate the air, low enough not to inspire mold. Bonus: Humidity also deactivates flu viruses and moistens the nasal passages, reducing the risk of respiratory infections.

Watch the Newest Rachel McAdams flick.

If you find yourself watching a lot of rom-coms this winter, there may be more at work than your love of happy endings. Your subconscious may just be regulating your body temperature for you. Tuning in to warm, loving personality traits in others enhances feelings of physical warmth—that's the upshot of a study published in the journal Social Psychology. Subjects felt warmer after hearing stories about caring, loyal, kind, sensitive souls than after hearing similar stories in which the characters were competent, efficient or creative. "Warmer hearts, warmer rooms," the researchers conclude, adding to the mounting evidence that the brain responds to social warmth with an actual rise in temperature.

Wait Two Years....

At MIT, there's a cool, futuristic bracelet-like gadget under development. It's called Wristify, and the idea behind it is that it'll manipulate our perception of how warm or cold a room feels. How? By sending hot or cold pulses to a patch of skin on the wrist dozens of times per minute, which—amazingly—the device can trick the mind into thinking the temperature is several degrees higher (or lower) than it really is. This, the developers claim, should solve disputes between people who think a space feels like a meat locker versus those who insist it's overheated.

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