One of the best ways to improve a home’s energy efficiency is by insulating and sealing openings, but the trade-off in a tightly sealed home can be stale indoor air. Energy recovery ventilators like the offer the best of both worlds, providing fresh air while keeping your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
What Is A “Heat Recovery System” or “Energy Recovery Air Exchanger”?
Simply put, these are energy recovery ventilation system that allow equal amounts of air to flow into and out of a home, while maintaining temperature levels so the HVAC system doesn’t have to work overtime. Some designs also preserve indoor humidity levels, which can allow homeowners to feel just as comfortable with less heat or air conditioning.
“Heat recovery” has become a bit of a misnomer, because some systems can also scrub the cooler temperatures from exhaust air to allow more efficient air conditioning.
How Does An Energy Recovery Ventilator Work?
Systems may use passive venting or active fans, but they all have a common design principle. Exhaust air and fresh air pass through the recovery unit at the same time, but never actually mix. The temperature (and in some systems, humidity) from the exhausted indoor air transfers to the fresh outdoor air, so the fresh air matches conditions inside the home. But since the air streams don’t touch each other, indoor air pollutants and odors are carried outward.
Heat recovery ventilators can be retrofitted in homes with ducted HVAC systems, or installed during new construction. They are most common in colder climates where homes rely heavily on heating systems, but they’re also gaining popularity in warm regions where air conditioning is used regularly.
All images: Renewaire Energy Recover Ventilation (one manufacturer of high-performance energy recovery systems). Visit their website for more information about their products and technology: http://www.renewaire.com/