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The master bedroom in my parent's house tends to be the coolest room in the house, and my father complains it's too cold. The A/C register in the ceiling does have a flow adjustment lever, but it's difficult for my 80-year-old dad to reach and adjust. I tried to attach a pull wire, but the lever is just a slightly bent strip of metal, and I can't manage to tie anything to it securely enough to be usable.

Does anybody make a register that's easier for the elderly to adjust? Where can I find it? A register with a built-in thermostat might work, too. Is there such a thing?

Or does someone have another idea about keeping the room from getting too cold (without the rest of the house becoming too hot)?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

They do make thermostat controlled vent covers, this particular one is ~$60.

enter image description here

I'm not sure how difficult it is to install one of these (as I've never done it myself), but it sounds like this is exactly the type of thing you are looking for.

This is not a recommendation for this product, simply an example to show that they do exist.

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That's a neat product - I'd never seen one for the vent covers before. – The Evil Greebo Sep 12 '11 at 12:54
This does appear to be what I'm looking for. The link seems to be to a reseller, though. It looks like it's cheaper (and with a better return policy) at theactivent.com. – cjm Sep 12 '11 at 18:14
Thanks @cjm, I updated the link. – Tester101 Sep 12 '11 at 18:33

If the ductwork for the room in question is in the attic and easily accessible, you could have an electric damper installed with it's own thermostat.

Example of an electric damper w/ thermostat

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In my house, and every Canadian house I've been in, you can just lift the register out of the floor. It's way easier to close the vents when you hold the register in your hand and work it from underneath. Then put it back in the floor. This is assuming your register looks something like this:

enter image description here

If you can't get it up, but it's metal, they also sell magnetic vent covers with a grill pattern on them so it still looks like a vent. Blocks the air.

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This is Texas, where A/C is more common than heating. Therefore, they put the registers in the ceiling instead of the floor, where they naturally have to be screwed in. Just reaching it is a bit difficult for Dad. – cjm Sep 12 '11 at 3:54
Aha. Can you (once) unscrew it, bring it down, close it, and then put it back? Or maybe the magnetic cover will work. It should stay on. – Kate Gregory Sep 12 '11 at 3:58
Well, I can close it with the adjustment lever. But neither fully closed nor fully open makes the room a comfortable temperature, and it's not practical for Dad to tweak the lever to fine tune the opening. That's why I'm looking for a register that would be easier for him to adjust. – cjm Sep 12 '11 at 5:16

When my office gets hot from the computer, I have a fan nearby. I don't point it at myself, but it still creates enough air movement to lower the temperature (or at least my perception of it) by 3-4 degrees.

It would be easy to drill a hole in the lever and attach something to it. You'd also need a pulley, etc., but the levers are pretty hard to move, and I don't think such an apparatus would be very successful.

There are motorized vent registers, but you're talking about a pretty small market when it comes to residential. I have no idea how easy/hard it is to get your hands on a quality product.

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OP is not asking how to make the room feel cooler. – The Evil Greebo Sep 12 '11 at 18:45
The implication is that you're supposed to err on the side of the room being warm so you never have to go up there and close the vent more, but when it's hot, you simply turn on the fan. The approach works just fine, having gone through very rigorous testing (i.e. I live in Texas.) I also gave other alternatives if that solution was deemed unacceptable, such as a motorized vent register (see Tester101's answer.) – Michael Sep 12 '11 at 23:05

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