Looking for creative ways to manipulate heating

Our 75-year-old home is not blessed with an abundance of insulation and there are lots of other less than ideal things with our heating system. After a few years of work, I have managed to get better heat distribution throughout the house resulting in a somewhat comfortable environment . . . except when there is a cold westerly wind.
My rules are currently working really well for 98% of the time situations. For that 2 %, I am wondering what creative ways people may have implemented to manipulate their thermostats. I am sure lots of community members would be interested in finding new and interesting things others have come up with.

Put more wood in the woodstove? :slight_smile:

I have baseboard heating and a woodstove. The nice thing about baseboard heating even in retrofit for older homes is that it gives precise zone control. You may want to think of adding either baseboard, convention, radiant etc etc to some areas for that 2% need.

Does your thermostat not pick up the drop in internal temp when you have a strong westerly wind? Since the internal temp is dropping, you would expect your thermostat to pick up on that and therefore turn the heater on more. If it isn't picking up on it soon enough, it could be that it is too far from the problem area.

We've broken up and burned most of the furniture already. :wink:
We actually don't need more heating sources, at least I don't think I we do. I built vent flaps that automatically redirect more heat to the areas we are currently occupying. I have been trying things like adding a virtual temp sensor and manipulating that up and down and including it with averaging other temperature sensors. I have tried tried setting min and max temperature variables. I can then adjust those variables based on outside and use that in my rules. Just wondering what others have tried.

I'm not using the thermostat to monitor the temperature. We spend most of the day on the upper level and most of the evening on the lower level. I use a couple of sets of temperature sensors, one for the upper and one for the lower. I just manipulate the set point based on the average of the sensors where we are. When we are on the lower floor, we ignore what the temperature is on the upper floor and the opposite during the day.

So, how are you achieving this? Are you just setting your thermostat to 80 when you want heat and 50 when you don't and taking the thermostat completely out of the picture?

Because the way thermostats work is that if the space they are heating/cooling is being influenced more by the outside environment, they detect that because the internal temp is affected. That then causes the thermostat to run the heat/AC longer or more frequently to keep the room at the setpoint. I mean, that's just how thermostats work.

I adjust up or down by a couple of degrees not a 80 up and 50 down. I understand how thermostats work. In my situation, we benefit from having the furnace run longer and less often, to overcome some long duct runs. I have been working on this for some time and what I currently have set up works extremely well and we are quite comfortable 98% of the time. With our previous smart thermostats, we were comfortable 75% of the time.

That's fair. But your heat is still controlled by a thermostat. And if it is, unless you have something that works with external temp sensors like an ecobee, then it's the temp of the thermostat that determines when the thermostat turns on the heat, can we agree on that?

I use remote temperature sensors to determine when to move the thermostat setpoint up or down. If I turned off the rules that are currently control the thermostat, the thermostat would control the heating on it's own. If I just use the thermostat to control the heat, the swing is a little to large for comfort and there is no way to adjust the swing. As I am using it, I have full control of what that swing is, where it starts and stops, and what area of the house determines where I bias the heat.

Okay...maybe I misunderstood the purpose of your post....were you looking for input on your solution to help make it better? Or were you just curious how other people have solved their, completely unrelated HVAC problems? I thought I knew the answer to that question when I first read your post but now after your responses and re-reading your primary post, I'm not sure that I have it right.

I am just interested in what other community members may have come up with to manipulate heating based on current outdoor conditions. I can't be the only household with with poorly insulated walls (not easily corrected) and a desire to mess with how the house heats.

I'm sorry...i did misunderstand. My apologies.


No apology necessary. It was good to expand on what I originally posted. Your posts helped. I do hope others will add to this with their solutions.


Neat! Can you share details and a pic?

My house was built in 1926, so I know all about the lack of insulation. I don't have anything earth shattering to share. Adding an Ecobee with three remote sensors several years ago, and then just letting it do its thing has worked reasonably well for us. Beyond that, better insulation that I know we need is going to be the next best thing. I just can't keep my IoT budget from encroaching on the home insulation budget :laughing: I know, it makes no sense and I could buy more stuff with the lower heating bill.

A friend of ours with a home around the same age had a crew come in and blow in cellulose insulation. He said it was relatively non-invasive. They cut a roughly 2 inch hole at the top of the wall, then one at the bottom. Then they blow the insulation in until they see it come out the top hole. So it's not as complete as foam, but he said it made a huge difference.

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Not (real) heating but cooling. And done pre-Hubitat. I have a 2-storey townhouse with poorly designed HVAC. The air-handler is upstairs, the vents closest to the air-handler are upstairs, and the return is upstairs. Thermostat is upstairs.

Master bedroom is downstairs. Sounds like a recipe for uncomfortable nights year around? It was.

Switched the thermostat to an ecobee3 (~5.5 years ago) with sensors and set cooling/heating profiles to use downstairs sensors at night. Helped a little, but electric bills started running real high.

About 4 years ago, I put an in-duct blower in the 12" duct going downstairs and wired it to go on & off when the air-handler blower went on & off (used a current sensor switch and RIB relay). This worked fabulously. I have balanced temperatures throughout the house.

Late last year, as you know, I swapped out the ecobee for a z-wave thermostat and a bunch of temperature sensors. Still continues to work fine. I don't "use" the thermostat's own sensor - just averaging to nudge the thermostat either way.

My average heat pump run-lengths with the ecobee were 16 mins. WIth this setup, I'm around 18 mins (and there are fewer runs).

Here are the current temperatures - the upper 4 are all downstairs and the lower 4 are upstairs.

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It also breathes. Foam doesn't. In the climate (hot humid) I live in, retrofitting foam insulation often makes a mold breeding ground.

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Good point. We don't have the year-round humidity you have, but Summers get pretty sticky here, and I can imagine the cold outside, vs warm inner walls with humidity would be an issue in the Winter for us.

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I used this current sensor:

And passed the neutral for the air-handler blower through the core.

I used a delay on break relay with the idea that I could run the in-duct fan for a few minutes after the blower turned off (to balance temperatures). This is the relay I used:

In the end, it turned out that I didn't need a delay on break relay. Just having the in-duct blower go on and off with the main blower was sufficient. But I had no way to know that going in, and it wasn't that much more expensive.

How hard was it retrofitting the blower in the duct-work? Did you have an HVAC guy do that part or did you do that yourself?

I can dig it out of the pipes but I can not match your details when it comes to showing how and where things go. It will take a bit to get it out again but I will post a pic or two. I built a frame and attached a small servo to a flap. I used @ogiewon hubduino to control it.
As for the blown-in insulation, it won't work since there is already some insulation in the wall.