The Keen Vent, a wireless smart heating/cooling vent and the first product from tech startup Keen Home, seems like a must-have for every home (or almost any building). The vents integrate with the home’s existing HVAC system to automatically redirect the flow of air. They open and close throughout the day based on how you use your home, ensuring comfortable temperatures in the rooms you need at any time of day -- while saving energy by not over-conditioning rooms that nobody uses for large portions of the day, like a bedroom or home office.
The vents connect using the ZigBee Home Automation 1.2 protocol. Users will set up a cloud-based profile so the system can draw on information like local climate, which rooms the vents are installed in, and how those rooms are typically used, to automatically program each vent with appropriate behavior.
In appearance, the smart vents are nearly indistinguishable from the dumb ones found in most homes today. They come in a variety of standard sizes and should be quite simple to install. For optimal performance, and to avoid damaging the HVAC system, smart Keen Vents should replace no more than a third of the vents in the house. Matching non-automated faceplates are available for the other vents, so the decor-conscious can rest easy.
Despite efficiency improvements in recent years, heating and cooling still represents the largest slice of home energy use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Keen Home estimates that their vents can cut the work an average home’s HVAC system needs to do by up to 30 percent. The company claims that a Keen Vent system will pay for itself within the first year, so users should expect savings in the range of $100 to $200 on their annual energy bills.
The Keen Vent should hit the market in spring 2014, thanks to a successful Indiegogo campaign in the previous year. For now, preorders are limited to those who backed the campaign, but keep an eye on Keen Home’s website for updates. And in the meantime, check out the video below to learn more.