The Health, Energy and Money Saving Benefits of an HRV

An HRV, or a heat recovery ventilator, is a home add-on that may be new for many people. When it comes to HVAC systems, most only are familiar with the common options like air conditioners, furnaces and heat pumps. However, the benefits of having an HRV in your home can be tremendous. Whether you are concerned with indoor air quality, saving energy or lowering your carbon footprint, an HRV could be exactly what you need.

 

How Does It Work?

Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRV) is designed to accomplish two main functions. The first is to assist with energy recovery and the second is to act as an air exchanger. An HRV can be connected to an existing HVAC system or built as a standalone unit.

 

Many homeowners find that HRVs work very well in spaces such as converted attics and other tight spaces, which may not be properly ventilated. HRVs are thus designed to either be connected directly to a HVAC system or can be installed completely independent from a home’s HVAC system.

 

A cross plate heat exchanger works to recover some of the heat that passes through the device. When combined with the HRV’s overall low energy requirement, there can be significant heating cost savings. The HRV also works to cycle in fresh air while pumping out old potentially polluted air. The one-two punch that HRVs provide help to make it an increasingly interesting device for home owners.

 

HRV and Indoor Air Quality

Buildings are getting tighter and tighter every single year. As regulations require homes to be better insulated and homeowners want to save on energy, homes are becoming increasingly well sealed as a result. Insulation, weather stripping and building codes are all combining to improve home energy efficiency but often at a cost; this is where an HRV can be a valuable home improvement choice.

 

Tighter homes may be more energy efficient, but that efficiency often produces a considerable drop in indoor air quality. Indoor air quality is usually several times worse than outdoor air quality. In the past, the traditional leaky homes, while not as energy efficient as many of today’s homes, may have been drafty but that issue did allow for more natural air flow.

 

One of the key benefits of an HRV is that can help bring fresh air from outdoors into the home and pump out polluted air. Of course, that isn’t the entire picture. HRVs use filters, such as HEPA filters, to clean the outdoor air that is being brought into the house before it is circulated throughout the home. Without this feature, HRVs would essentially just be pulling in outdoor air.

 

The Radon Factor

The fact of the matter is that HRVs can do more than provide cleaner air in tighter homes. As an HRV is venting indoor air, it is also possible for HRVs to help reduce radon levels. Radon is a colorless, odorless noble gas that has been linked to diseases like cancer when exposure lasts for a long duration.

 

Of course, this is not to state that an HRV should always be used as a replacement for a radon remediation system when warranted; however, an HRV can be a valuable tool for helping to reduce radon levels since indoor air is constantly removed from the home and fresh air is pumped in.

Improving indoor air quality can have a range of health benefits. When selecting an HRV it is prudent to look for one that incorporates a HEPA filter.

 

HEPA filters remove more than particulate matter as they also trap bacteria and even viruses. Improving your indoor air quality can lead to fewer colds, flus and potentially other illnesses. Recent studies have shown that there may be a link between Alzheimer’s and poor air quality. Other studies have linked air pollution and lower I.Q.s. If you start to connect the dots it quickly becomes obvious that we should do all that we can to ensure that our families enjoy the best air quality possible.

 

HRV and Energy Savings

 

HRVs can save homeowners a great deal of money, especially in cold climates. If you live in a climate that is cold for a large percentage of the year then an HRV may very well be a device worth considering. Since HRVs recover a considerable percentage of the heat that passes through them those living in cold climates may see a marked drop in heating costs. Additionally, many HRVs are designed to consume very little energy.

 

There are models that use as little operational energy as a 40-watt light bulb. The cost savings an HRV represents when factored over the lifetime of a home can be considerable, especially in colder climates.

 

Additional Benefits and Features

HRVs can also be used to control humidity, thus helping to reduce the chances of developing mold. Many HRV units come with a variety of features such as an air circulation mode that strictly takes advantage of the HRV’s ability to purify air and a high-power mode that increases the amount of air being circulated from outside.

 

Operating an HRV isn’t a “set-it-and-forget-it” situation. Filters have to be changed and cleaned and a moderate degree of annual maintenance is required. It is important to remember that an HRV brings in potentially polluted air and cleans it. For this reason, filters may become dirtier quicker than expected. How long filters last partially depends on the pollution in the home’s area. That stated, HRVs do have great value, especially for homeowners in colder climates and for those living in well insulated homes. Homeowners with converted attics that receive poor air circulation should consider an HRV for the reasons outlined in this article.

 

One argument against HRVs is the price and there is no doubt that a good unit can be pricey. However, for those who put a premium on their indoor air quality or those living in very well insulated homes, an HRV could be seen as a welcome addition to one’s home.

Posted by August 10, 2017 at 3:31 PM under Home Living Tips

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