This is out of your remodel budget, but it's a possibility for future new construction. Consider room-by-room zoning:
This system places a small, discrete wireless thermostat in every room, which provides two advantages:
* Each room can respond separately to room-specific demands, eliminating hot and cold spots in the house.
* Different rooms can have different temperature programs.
We have the older version of this system (MyTemp) and we love it. It's not cheap, but I only paid the difference between the builder's standard 2-zone system and this system. Some highlights from our own use:
* To simplify scheduling, you can group rooms together to form named zones. For example, we group the master bedroom/bathroom/closet into "Master Suite". Most of the downstairs is grouped into "Living Space".
* We set our toddler's room to more moderate temperatures than our room, since we like it very cold at night.
* Guests can set the guest bedroom to whatever they like. When the room is not used, we simply press the button on the wall controller to put it into "Saver" mode. This runs the room on an alternate program you define with wider temperature swings.
* Any room can be put into/out of Saver mode at any time.
* The temperature of any room can be overridden temporary with arrow buttons on the wall controller. Just came in from mowing the lawn and you're hot and sweaty? Crank the temperature down in the family room and kick back! It changes the temperature of that room only, leaving other rooms in the house/zone undisturbed.
* Each room/zone is completely programmable. For example, our bedroom is on a 7-day schedule (it's always relaxed during the day), but the toddler's room is on a 5/2-day schedule (relaxed during weekdays because he's at daycare, conditioned during weekend days because he takes naps).
* I work from home. My home office always ran hot due to the two computers. With this system, it now directs air conditioning to the office as needed, which has been fantastic. No more fiddling with vents!
* You can bring up temperature graphs for each room that allow you to see the temperature history and heat/AC calls from the room. I can actually see the air-conditioning demand follow the sun on a room-by-room basis as the sun swings around from the east to the south to the west. All rooms stay perfectly comfortable, regardless of whether the blinds are opened or closed, etc.
* For special rooms like dedicated home theater rooms or workout rooms, this system is a huge advantage. Anyone with a home theater can tell you how warm they can get after two hours with the projector, A/V equipment, and a bunch of dead bodies. With Emme, the room will demand as much air-conditioning as it needs. If you don't use the room often, put it in Saver mode as you walk out to save a few bucks.
* House-sized HVAC units have minimum airflow requirements. When only one or a few rooms are calling, the system conditions as many additional rooms as needed to meet the minimum airflow requirements of your HVAC unit, using a pressure sensor in the plenum to account for any flow differences from room to room. It's smart enough to choose the rooms that are furthest from their comfort points, which would have been the rooms that would have called next anyway.
* To save energy, the system can circulate air instead of running your heating/cooling. This is possible because it knows the temperature of every room. For example, in the summer, it can circulate air from your cooler rooms on your first floor to warmer rooms on your second floor, without kicking on the AC compressor.
This may all sound complicated, but it's not. The complexity is hidden from you. You simply create your zones and program temperatures over time, and the system does the rest. The best advertising for this system is the user manual:
Feel free to ask me any questions; I'd be happy to share our experiences.