Stay Warm, Stay Fresh, Save Money: Heat Recovery Ventilators

From on June 03, 2008 in Air Conditioning & Heating

heat recovery ventilatorIn recent years, building efficiency has greatly improved by way of insulation, weatherstripping, new siding, caulking, etc. These innovations have made homes more air-tight and, subsequently, less well ventilated.

Stagnate air is no good for anything, building and human alike. Air pollutants get trapped indoors and build up and high humidity can cause damaging condensation on windows and doors in winter. Humidity is the Pied Piper of mold, mildew, and bacterial growth. Unfortunately, the old time solution of opening a window will help, but will also cause significant heat loss or gain (depending on the season). This is undesirable for the indoor climate and forces the HVAC system to compensate, increasing energy costs.

Fresh air is necessary for any building — enter the heat recovery ventilator (HRV). An HRV is the optimal solution. Not only does it ventilate the building, but it recycles a good portion of the heat in out-flowing air. That can translate into a bundle of energy savings.

HRVs make mechanical ventilation more energy efficient and cost effective by reclaiming energy from exhaust airflows. These systems employ a heat exchanger, which recovers heat from exhaust air as it exits the building, transferring heat that would otherwise be totally lost to fresh, incoming air without mixing air streams. This process can save 60-80% of heat that is usually wasted, and thus, save energy by reducing the burden on the heating and cooling system.

While HRVs are usually installed in new houses, they can be retrofit into existing homes, especially those with good access to ductwork. You can find systems that take advantage of existing ducts. The price of an HRV system varies based on several factors: the unit itself (avg. $500-1000), amount of ductwork needed, and the difficulty of installation. The best way to estimate your cost is to find certified, HVAC installers in your area.

Here are some of CalFinder’s certified HVAC installers. Contact us to direct you to a pre-qualified contractor where you live!

Annuzzi Heating and Cooling in South San Francisco, California
Hassler Heating & Air Conditioning in El Cerrito, California
Phillips Heating and Air in Los Angeles, California
Heritage Heat & Air in San Jose, California

photo from one earth design