ecovent in Action

ecovent in Action
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An in-depth look at how ecovent makes your home more comfortable while saving money

piIn the hottest summer months, have you ever noticed how dogs have a knack for finding the coolest spot in your home? In my house, it’s usually on the floor right below the AC vent in the downstairs bathroom. But while dogs are pretty happy lying down anywhere, the rest of us generally prefer the living room and bedroom. Why is it so hard to keep these rooms comfortable when summer heats up? One approach is to simply turn down your thermostat. This makes every room a few degrees cooler, but you’ll still have hot spots while your electric bill soars pumping cool air into rooms you don’t even use. The only way to save money is to keep the entire house hotter and sweat it out. There needs to be a better way.

This summer, ecovent put systems in test homes across the country to demonstrate how it’s possible to turn your existing central air conditioning into a zone-per-room system, keeping every room at the right temperature. Ecovent is a system of wireless sensors and vents that controls your forced-air heat and AC, pumping the right amount of air into each room. This lets you cool the rooms you use most to the perfect temperature, while letting empty rooms get warmer. Our novel control algorithm automatically opens and closes vents based on your preferences and adapts to changes in each room’s temperature.

So how well does it work? Check out these results from one of our test homes just outside of Boston, MA. This home has a third-floor living space, which used to become completely unusable on hot summer days. Meanwhile, the first-floor dining room near the thermostat would end up too cool trying to keep other rooms comfortable.

ecovent in Action!

The plot on the left shows the first- and third-floor rooms before ecovent was installed. On a hot day in early summer (high of 88 degrees), the upstairs living space reaches an unbearable 91 degrees even with the home’s new “smart” thermostat downstairs set to 72 degrees. Over the entire day, the average temperature difference between the first and third floors is more than 16 degrees.

The plot on the right shows the same two rooms after ecovent was installed. On an even hotter day later in the summer (high of 89 degrees), the homeowner sets the third-floor room to 81 degrees (a balance between comfort and energy savings) and the dining room to a pleasant 74 degrees. Ecovent brings the average temperature difference between the floors down to 7 degrees (a 9 degree improvement) and to the exact temperatures set by the homeowner. This unprecedented level of control allows you to dial in the perfect temperature for each room — directing heating and cooling to the rooms you use most and saving money by reducing airflow to the others.

Here is what the beta customer had to report:

“Before I installed ecovent, there was always a 10-15 degree difference between my first floor, where my thermostat is located, and my bedroom on the second floor.  With ecovent, the temperature difference is about three degrees.  It’s that simple.”

Assembling our vents

Based on the results of this year’s beta testing, the ecovent team is now perfecting our control algorithm, making the system even smarter, and getting our vents ready for large-scale production. Thanks to raising our seed round of funding from a great group of investors, we’re positioned to get all of those things done and more! And we can’t wait to collect data on how well our test homes perform this winter as we shift into heating season! We’ll keep you updated on progress right here on our blog. The system will be ready to ship in August 2015, and now you can reserve your system today to receive a substantial discount!

15 Comments

  1. Does your system support automatic changeover between heat and cool, or do I have to manually set it to heat mode or cool mode? Is the answer different depending on if I use your thermostat vs. a Nest?

    Reply
    • Thanks for your question, Isaac. Right now, it’s manual but we’re working on implementing that feature. Same answer regardless of which thermostat you use.

      Reply
  2. How do the smart vents interact with Nest? If I just wanted the same temperature all over the house (but different depending on whether I am home or not) could I just set up the vents to follow the temp on my Nest so that when Nest detects that nobody is home and sets the temp for 76 I don’t have to adjust the temp in all rooms manually to achieve that? Also, what if my Nest is set for 76 but I am now telling my smart vents that I want it to be 72 in my room, will the smart hub now issue a command to change my Nest to go to 72 so that this is possible?

    Reply
    • Nest has an open API and we work with Nest. With Ecovent, you would actually use our app to control the temperature of each room rather than using the Nest or its app.

      Reply
      • In practice what does that mean? If I set one room AG the end of a long run of vents to go to 65 degrees and all the others are set to 72, then will your app turn on the nest to cool to 65 and close all the vents except the ones in the room requestin 65 degrees until the temp gets there?
        And will some of the advanced features and logic of nest (auto away, run the fan for 15m every hour, keep the fan running for a short while after the cooling is turned off etc ) still work?

        Reply
        • Thanks for your question. Ecovent will understand the airflow of your system and use an algorithm to close vents for rooms that don’t need cooling and redirect airflow to rooms that do need cooling. How that will work will depend on the setup of each individual home and HVAC system. You’d use the Ecovent app to control room by room temperature instead of using the Nest and we’re developing those features you mentioned.

          Reply
  3. I reviewed the temperature data above, however what I’d like to see in relation to this are the
    graphs of the energy usage in the before(June) & after(September) Ecovent scenarios above. I realize that it was probably a lot more comfortable in that house, but how much more or less did the HVAC system run to achieve that? Also, would be great to see a more apples to apples comparison (same month, same house syle[ i.e., many developments have the same house designs], same thermostat/settings) to see what the graphs show.

    Reply
    • Hi J – thanks for your question. We’re working to gather and analyze energy usage data from our beta customers for a complete month or months. We’ll publish a case study based on those findings, so please stay tuned. In terms of your question about how much the HVAC system runs in order to achieve the desired results – the system is designed to get different rooms to their set points within a window of time of one another. This would mean that different rooms may receive a different amount of conditioned air to reach their respective set points. These protections to avoid overcycling (and short cycling) ensure that the system runs for the amount of time it needs to for system safety and efficiency.

      Reply
  4. Since the average home has undersized ducts which result in a high static pressure at the air handler, how do you prevent the vents from making the problem worse when they close?

    Reply
    • Russell – thanks for your question. To prevent over-pressurization of the HVAC system, we designed a vent that allows more airflow than a traditional vent, so that we lower the pressure out of the gate. Each of our vents has a sensor that measures several variables in the duct and sends this information to the smart hub in real-time. That information is analyzed based on an algorithm to ensure that the system never closes off so many vents that the pressure reaches a level that would risk damage to the compressor, blower or furnace.

      Reply
  5. Are there add’l considerations using ecovent for new home construction, e.g. 2-story in Florida.

    Reply
    • Hi Sam. Thanks for the question. We have customers in both newer construction homes and older homes and Ecovent works great in both. If you have a more specific concern about your home, we’d love to hear from you. Please shoot us an email at info@ecoventsystems.com and we’ll get back to you soonest!

      Reply
  6. We would LOVE to be a beta test home. Trust me – if you can resolve our heating and air conditioning issues, we will be an incredible testament for you. We have a 2 story, 5 bedroom 3500 square foot home in the Livermore wine country in the SF bay area. We get temps up over 100 in the summer and it chills down to the 40’s usually but sometimes to the high 20’s in the winter. Our master bedroom is at the end of the ducting chain and is either too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter. As such, my wife freezes the rest of the house to get the bedroom liveable in the summer and makes the house a heatbox in the winter to keep it warm enough.

    I recently invested in a new HVAC system to the tune of $8,000 with little change in our situation. If your vents and room thermostats can solve our problem, we will be your biggest sales people!!! My wife used to be the regional marketing director for an advertising company in Chicago so she knows how to market and reach people.

    I was considering a Mitsubishi ductless system for the bedroom at a cost of about $5,000 but if your system does what you say it does, you could save me a lot of money.

    Try us out!!! Let us be a beta test for you.

    Stewart McGehee

    Reply
    • Hi Stewart,

      Thanks a lot for the comment and enthusiasm. We appreciate it. It sounds like ecovent is a perfect fit for your home. Unfortunately, we’re not taking on any new beta homes for now. We have 20 systems deployed across the country. If you want to see our system in action in your home, reserve your system today. Reservations can be cancelled at any time till we confirm your vent sizes and ship your system, and you lock in the best pricing. Happy to answer any questions you have at info@ecoventsystems.com.

      Reply
  7. Impressive results! I’d read about ecovent a few weeks ago and was curious to learn how it would deal with multi floor homes with single zone HVAC systems. Compatibility with Nest is a big plus.

    Reply

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