Ecovent takes smart heating and cooling seriously

Ecovent's remote temperature sensors and custom air vents reroute your heat and AC to optimize your comfort.

Megan Wollerton

Megan Wollerton

Senior Writer/Editor

Megan Wollerton covers renewable energy, climate change and other environmental topics for CNET. Before starting at CNET in 2013, she wrote for NBC Universal's DVICE (now SYFY). Megan has a master's degree from the University of Louisville and a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College, both in international relations. She is a board member of the Louisville chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. When Megan isn't writing, she's planning far-flung adventures.

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Cambridge, Mass.-based startup, Ecovent, was founded by Dipul Patel and developed at MIT. Although Ecovent is a new name in home heating and cooling, Patel told me that he has been toying around with this idea since 2008. Back then, he was working at Lockheed Martin and trying to save money for his upcoming wedding.

One ill-fated cost-saving strategy involved shutting off the air vents in select rooms throughout his house. It worked, but then his mom came to visit and ended up spending quite an uncomfortable night in one of Patel's unventilated rooms. This simple mistake prompted him to re-examine the entire concept of whole-home temperature control and eventually turned into Ecovent.

The plug and vent side-by-side. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Rather than trying to remember to open and close your vents as needed, Ecovent's solution automatically adjusts them for you. And, instead of a pricey professional install, Ecovent says its wireless, DIY-friendly products can get the job done for roughly $200 a room.

Ecovent manages this with its own temperature, humidity and motion-sensing wall plugs (outfitted with USB ports for good measure), custom vents and an Android and iOS app. Stick the sensor plugs throughout your house, replace your current vents with Ecovent's app-enabled ones, label the various plugs and vents, tell the app your ideal temperature settings by room, and let the system re-route your heat and AC to suit your exact specifications.

Ecovent eyes custom heating and cooling (pictures)

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According to Ecovent's official press release, it "applies aeronautical engineering principles to optimize airflow and preserve HVAC system integrity. It also adjusts to changes in the home and learns from users' input over time." Sounds good to me.

While Ecovent will work with a plain ol' thermostat, it's optimized for smart versions. And although Patel didn't share specifics, he mentioned that Ecovent was planning ahead as far as APIs and third-party partnerships. Pre-orderable kits are available now; check out Ecoventsystems.com for more details.

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