You can monitor how much heat or air conditioning each room gets with smart thermostats and air vents.
Does your home have that one room that always feels cold in the winter? Or too hot in the summer?
It’s a common issue, particularly if you only have one thermostat in your home. If your thermostat is in your living room, for example, the temperature in your completed basement or attic, out-of-the-way office or extension, or even your second floor can be much cooler or colder because the thermostat isn’t reading the temperature in those places.
Sure, you can use space heaters and window ACs to compensate, but you have other, less cumbersome, options: Using a smart thermostat with remote temperature sensors or installing smart air vents.
Both solutions have their strengths and drawbacks. Smart thermostats with remote controls are less expensive than smart vents, but they’re better at averaging temperatures in different rooms. As long as there aren’t any major temperature variations, they’re perfect.
Smart vent covers allow you to direct airflow and heat or cool particular rooms to exact temperatures. However, they are more costly.
Smart Thermostats with Remote Sensors
Cost: $200 and up. Usually comes with one sensor; additional sensors cost about $40 each.
How It Works
Smart thermostats, which connect to the internet through Wi-Fi and can be operated from your smartphone, are probably familiar to you. They use algorithms to learn your preferences and change the heating and cooling to conserve energy and money depending on when you’re at home.
Smart thermostats usually require a special power wire called a C-wire, but many now offer workarounds, such as special wiring adapters or internal batteries that charge whenever the HVAC system is running.
Some models come with wireless remote sensors that you can put in other rooms to enable the thermostat to read the temperatures there. Any sensors sense motion as well, allowing the thermostat to detect when a space is occupied.
After the sensors are mounted, you can configure the thermostat to fix rooms that are too hot or cold by averaging the temperature across all rooms or a certain group of rooms. As a consequence, the temperature should be constant from one room to the next.
You can also have the thermostat heat or cool a group of rooms at certain times of day (such as bedrooms only when you’re sleeping), or, if the sensors have motion detection, have it heat and cool only the rooms that are occupied.
Smart Air Vents
Cost: Varies with the number of rooms you want to install vents in, the number of supply vents you have in those rooms (you don’t replace the return vents that pull air into the system), and the size of those vents. Prices range from $80 to $130 for an individual vent cover and $30 to $130 for accompanying temperature sensors. Some systems, such as Keen Home, also require a stand-alone bridge to connect the vents to the internet, adding $40 to the total cost of the system.
How It Works
Airflow is redirected by smart air vents that open and shut (so your home has to have a forced air system for the vents to work). They connect to Wi-Fi so you can use your mobile to power them. Few smart thermostats, such as Ecobee ones, can also be used for them. The vents will use the readings from the sensors if you have sensors for your smart thermostat in different spaces.
Temperature sensors that are wireless or plug-in are popular, as are motorized vent covers. In each room you want to monitor, you position one sensor and as many vent covers as are appropriate. Excess heating or cooling is diverted to other areas, and the vent covers automatically open or shut to hold the space at the temperature you set.
Since you’re effectively building independently operated heating and cooling systems in each room, smart vents give you more flexibility. Set a higher temperature in some rooms than in others, for example, and the vents would take care of the rest.