By now, you’ve insulated your house down to the last crack. Not even the tiniest draft of air can escape to the outdoors. That’s great! It means you're saving money on your winter heating costs. Unfortunately, it also means that your indoor air quality could suffer. All the dust, debris, irritants and allergens that are inside your home have no way to escape. Is it worth sacrificing your energy efficiency by opening a window to improve your air quality? Fortunately, you don’t have to make that choice. With a heat recovery ventilator, you can preserve most of your warmth while refreshing your house with clean air at the same time.
How Does it Work?
Heat recovery ventilators use fans to push out the stale air from your house and bring in air from the outdoors. This is also useful in eliminating lingering smells and controlling moisture, which can encourage mold growth.
The HRV captures the heat from indoor air as it disperses it, using it to warm up the new air before sending it into your home. The best models recover up to 85 percent of the heat, minimizing any extra work for your furnace. The device uses a heat-exchange core that works by transferring the heat while the air moves through a series of adjoining passages. The HRV also uses filters to make sure you aren’t inadvertently bringing more dust or pollutants into your home. Some models have dehumidifiers as well, for use in climates with high humidity.
Heat recovery ventilators also work in reverse, capturing the coolness of air conditioned air in the summertime and transferring it to the warm air it draws in from outside to replaces it.
Minimal Electricity Usage
Of course, there’s some cost to running HRV’s, although they will save you money when compared to a standard ventilator, which brings in cold air for your furnace to deal with. All ventilators need electricity to run the fans. And since heat recovery ventilators don’t work as well in very cold temperatures, some models have self-defrosting capability to combat the chill. Some run the warm air through the core multiple times to prevent freezing, while others have small built-in electric resistance heaters. Both options will cut down on your efficiency, however.
On the plus side, maintenance is minimal. The filters should be cleaned once per year, but otherwise the HRV should be good to go unless something is obviously wrong.
So if you find your indoor air quality suffers in the wintertime, a heat recovery ventilator might be the solution for you. While the federal Energy Star program does include standard ventilator fans in its high-efficiency product program, heat recovery ventilators are currently only certified in Canada, so consult with a qualified expert on which model will work best for you.
Contact the experts at local One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning® for advice and guidance on whether a heat recovery ventilator is a good option for your home.