Controlling the temperature in individual rooms with a central HVAC and no zoning


One of the things that puzzles me as a parent is my child's lack of ability to sleep soundly or, at least, maintain a routine. 

We happen to live in the US, in a climate that tends to be hot a humid in summer and dry and well below freezing in winter. We have more than a single story, and the issue arises around the fact that, while we have a Nest thermostat (which works pretty well), it's located on the bottom floor, in the center of the house, in a passage. Ugh.

The Physics

Hot air rises. Cold air tends to sink. This is because of the relative density of the air in question. It's really pretty basic. So? Well, in summer, the HVAC system cools via the vents throughout your home. The cooler air, being more dense, tends to flow from upstairs to downstairs. In Winter, you need to adjust vents again.
That's just one of the issues. The larger problem here is that during the opposite seasonal  months, you have to adjust those vents again. Then, there's the real problem: smaller rooms tend to be more difficult to control. During the day while my child naps, we close the door which limits the airflow, but tends to overheat the room on colder days. Go figure. 

But what if we could be clever about how we distribute air in the house on a more dynamic basis? And how can we automate that process without going through the expensive option of zoning a house?

The Solution

I just ordered a Smart Vent starter kit from the idea is to be able to control a particular room (for now) more effectively. Ideally, you'd want a vent in every room, plus a sensor, so that you effectively create micro-zoning in your own home. In fact, I'm going to coin that term now. #microzoning - there. Done.

Edit: This product doesn't work like I wanted it to. It wants to, but it just doesn't. I've bought multiple gateways, got everything connected, but it's a pain and is buggy and just doesn't work.

In honesty, the concept is great. The sales pitch is even better. But what you end up with is effectively a dumb vent with an app that occasionally works, when the vent decides its available.

And even then, it seems the app thinks the vent has done something, but nothing has happened. I actually ended up with a vent closed for 3 weeks, thinking something else was wrong.

I'll probably end up going for something like the Ecobee in future, or maybe a different smart vent. Not impressed.