A technician installs an HRV system outside of a home

Energy recovery ventilators or ERVs have become common in most home renovation and construction projects due to the vast number of advantages they offer. 

From providing clean and fresh air to helping your quality of air and more, an ERV is a must-have if you live in an area prone to high levels of humidity and pollution. It can help regulate the temperature in your home or facility, draw out extra moisture, and prevent mold outbreaks as well. 

However, there is no doubt that ERVs can be heavy on the wallet, and most people struggle to decide on getting one. After all, they have been carefully designed while incorporating the latest technological features.

While the price may be warranted considering the technology, installation costs also leave potential consumers in a fix. Should they invest in the installation costs separately? If so, then what is the reason for it? Will it be worth it in the long run?

If you are thinking of getting an ERV installed and have the same questions running through your mind, you need not worry. You have come to the right place!

In this article, we will clarify your concerns and help you make the right decision. So continue reading to learn everything about ERVs and whether they are worth the cost to install. 

What is an Energy Recovery Ventilator? 

An ERV is a device in a house or building that ventilates and exchanges air between inside and outside to help regulate both heat and moisture. They can be installed in a home or commercial facility, making them a versatile and flexible system of ventilation and regulating air quality.

Therefore, be it the summer heat or during the cold winter months, you can stay healthy by breathing clean air without any complaints. 

A heat recovery ventilator exchange component and vents on a home's exterior

How do Energy Recovery Ventilators Work?

The way the ERV works can seem quite complicated. However, we have broken down the process in simple terms.

The ERV essentially draws in clean air from the outside using specially designed fans that allow clean air to enter the facility while releasing poor-quality air from the inside. The ERV can also come equipped with heat exchangers.

These heat exchangers seek to balance heat and moisture levels as needed. So during summer, you can expect the indoors to stay cool, while in winter, the ERV is sure to retain heat and create a warm and cozy environment. 

Moreover, energy recovery ventilators are known to provide health benefits as well. They improve the quality of air present in your home or facility, allowing you and your loved ones to stay healthy all year round. 

How Much Does a Decent Energy Recovery Ventilator Cost?

According to the Minnesota Sustainable Housing Initiative, an energy recovery ventilator generally costs around $150–$200 more than a heat recovery ventilator (HRV). Prior to installation, the energy recovery ventilator usually costs somewhere between $600 to $1,200.

All in all, the national average of an energy recovery ventilator with installation is approximately $2,000, and the typical price range lies between $1,500 to $2,000.

Here is a breakdown of ERV costs for different levels:

Basic Unit Average UnitBest Unit 
ERV – Price of Materials $864.00 – $1332.00$1426.50 – $1612.80$1799.10 – $1900.80
ERV – Cost of Installation $135.00 – $225.00$234.00 – $330.30$432.00 – $447.30
ERV – Unit Cost$999.00 – $1557.00$1660.50 – $1943.10$2231.10 – $2348.10
ERV – Total Average Cost per Unit $1278.00$1801.80$2289.60

Keep in mind that costs can add up quickly, particularly if you are an amateur and have never installed an ERV before. Therefore, we highly recommend you get an insured and licensed contractor to do the installation for you. You should also look at your potential contractor’s statement of work to determine if you’re getting what you need. 

Also, make sure to have a copy of the ERV manufacturer’s recommended installation requirements before you start off. This way, you can ensure your project doesn’t end up costing you more money in the long term. 

Factors Influencing the Price of an Energy Recovery Ventilator 

There are several factors that can influence the final cost of an energy recovery ventilator. These include:

  • Whether you opt for a single-room or whole-room unit
  • Brand name and model of the ERV you choose
  • Whether the system is being installed in a new home or if an older house is being retrofitted
  • Style of the system you select
  • Materials and labor required
  • Amount of existing ductwork
  • Square footage of your house
  • Placement of the furnace and how much extra retrofitting or venting is needed
  • Efficiency of the system (units with a higher efficiency generally come with a higher price tag)
  • Where you live—prices differ largely by region across the US, and prices might be higher in rural or smaller areas as compared to larger urban cities. 

ERV Price and Installation Cost Checklist 

Here are some things you need to keep in mind regarding the price and installation cost of an energy recovery ventilator. 

  • Get at least 3 to 5 estimates before choosing a contractor—you generally don’t have to pay for estimates unless it is a service call for a repair. 
  • Expect the ERV’s prices to fluctuate between different HVAC companies as all companies have varying operational costs and overhead expenses. 
  • Try to get prices in early winter or late fall—you can possibly get aggressive pricing discounts by waiting for a contractors’s season. 
  • Speak to every vendor that sells your preferred brand of energy recovery ventilators and try to negotiate a better deal with every supplier. This can help you save almost 20%.
  • Install the ERV simultaneously with the furnace. If you choose to have both installed separately, the service provider may charge extra. 

Maintenance Costs of Energy Recovery Ventilators 

Fortunately, an energy recovery ventilator doesn’t require too much maintenance. You need to clean and change the filters every three months. If you have smokers or pets in the house, you should change the filters more often. 

A minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) filter generally costs between $7 to $20, depending on where you purchase it from. Like with many retail products, the best option is to purchase in bulk. 

Houses generally use a rating of 7-12. A lower rating allows fewer allergens and pollens to flow through the filter. If you replace the filter every quarter, it will cost you anywhere between $5.50 to $22 every year. 

We recommend you shop around to get the best price before purchasing a huge box of filters. Note that you will change them four to five times per year. Thus, purchasing a box of these is your best bet.

Are ERVs Worth The Installation Cost?

In most cases, the answer is yes. ERVs are worth the investment despite a high initial cost of purchase and installation. They require a one-time payment and provide benefits that can go on for years.

According to Architect Magazine, the average time to recover your investment through lower energy bills is three months to three years. On the other hand, certain studies state that energy recovery ventilator systems have a payback time of 2 years on average.

The actual time it takes to recoup your investment depends on how much you spend on cooling and heating your house and where you live. The more energy you consume, the more money you can save. Moreover, certain areas offer substantial discounts and rebates for installing energy-efficient home appliances. 

If you’re on a budget, you can invest in an energy recovery ventilator by paying monthly installments. In addition, energy recovery ventilators come with a warranty. Thus, if anything goes wrong and your energy recovery ventilator doesn’t work properly, you can get it checked, repaired, or even replaced. 

Read ahead to learn more on exactly why ERVs are all the rage and what benefits they offer—we have listed some of the top reasons ERVs are worth the investment.

Factors That Make ERVs a Worthy Investment 

Apart from the breakdown of the cost of investing and installing ERVs, we can also look at some of the additional benefits ERVs provide. They are truly remarkable in helping you live a healthy and happy life, thus making the installation worth it in the long run. Some of them can be listed as follows.

Improved Air Quality

With the way an ERV works, you can expect all kinds of pollutants and allergens to be extracted from your home. As a result, better air quality and a reduction in illness are givens.

You need not rush to the ER every few months due to poor health or a pollen allergy. The ERV is sure to take care of it all by effectively extracting harmful contaminants and particles from your home, improving mood, sleep, and allowing a healthier and more productive life.

Helping Prevent Mold Outbreaks By Regulating Humidity Levels 

The number one cause of mold outbreaks is the presence of humidity. ERVs have been created to help alleviate this by drawing out unwanted moisture and minimizing the chance of mold spores growing in your home. Thus, keeping you safe from the result of mold outbreaks like difficulty breathing, eye irritation, or even black mold poisoning.

Regulating Your Home’s Temperatures

With the temperatures in your home regulated, you can expect savings of 70–80% of energy in the air present in your home. A cut down in your utility bills can thus follow. ERVs are quite cost-effective and can help you save a lot. You can now buy that golf club set you have had your eyes on!

Improved Odor Control 

By eliminating airborne contaminants from your house and filtering the incoming air, an energy recovery ventilator also helps with odor control. Odors from cooking ingredients, pets, and other sources will decrease significantly, allowing the air inside your house to smell clean and fresh. 

How To Prolong The Lifespan of ERVs and Maximize The Investment 

To further reap the maximum benefits from your ERV and cover up the hefty installation cost, ensure proper maintenance and care of the ERV. 

  • First, have your ERV inspected every few months. Try to have this done by the same service provider who installs the ERV to prevent any mishaps. 
  • Make a point of having your ERV serviced every six months. Doing so will keep the filter clean and prohibit dust accumulation, which can prevent your ERV from operating effectively. 
  • Wash your ERV filters by removing them from their tracks. Avoid doing this via using a pressure washer. Instead, soak them in warm soapy water. You can even get this done by a professional service provider.  
  • The ERV Core is to be cleaned annually. That too with just a vacuum cleaner. Avoid removing the core and washing it as this can damage your ERV. Your service provider should be able to guide you better on this, so be sure to take their assistance. 

To Sum It All Up

Getting an ERV installed in your home or facility provides countless benefits that can pay off in the long run. Energy recovery ventilators are cost-effective, reduce utility bills, and keep the air clean and fresh.

You can say goodbye to recurring mold outbreaks, pet odor, poor air quality, and frequent allergy flare-ups once and for all! The impact that the ERV is going to have on your life is quite powerful and immediate.

Do your research and invest in the most durable, reliable, and efficient ERV system, and be sure to have it installed with your furnace by a trusted service provider. 

If you wish to learn more about ERVs, check out our list of resources and articles on everything ERV-related.

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