A living room of a home using an ERV to boost indoor air quaility

Inhaling poor quality indoor air can be as bad as breathing outside in a polluted environment.

In addition, it is harmful to the overall health of the residents who are living in this air. It can also cause structural and cosmetic damage to the overall design of the building or home. 

Poor air quality is why mechanical ventilation systems, such as energy recovery ventilators (ERVs), are critical and have become increasingly popular in recent years. 

They enhance the air quality within the residence to ensure there is improved and natural airflow exchange in the house while effectively conserving electricity at the same time. 

Therefore, here we will discuss what an energy recovery ventilator is, what it does, and its various benefits. This guide should help you decide just how necessary an investment ERV is or isn’t for your home. 

What Is An Energy Recovery Ventilator?

Energy recovery ventilators are also commonly referred to as ERVs or air exchangers. But what exactly is the function of an ERV? 

An ERV uses a process of energy transfer to exchange the stale and poor quality air that exists indoors and replace it with fresh and superior air from the outside. 

The system promotes ventilation and is typically connected to your HVAC system. The unit functions using two fans. The first functions to release the stale and contaminated indoor air in buildings and homes outside. The second is to filter and allow clean, healthy, and hygienic air back inside the residence or building. 

The energy recovery ventilation system also facilitates heat and moisture transfer between the outgoing stale air and the incoming fresh air. This exchange means that you will save significantly on cooling and heating costs if you install one of these system in your house.

Therefore, during summers, while dispensing hot air outside, the system will cool the incoming airflow beforehand so that the air coming inside is clean and safe.  

The same system works inversely in the winters by preheating the fresh air pulled inside. It will conserve energy, save costs for heating and cooling, and ensure that the airflow of heat and moisture helps maintain a comfortable and safe indoor environment. 

Just as importantly, an ERV effectively captures pollutants, contaminants, allergens, molds, dust particles, and other harmful substances present in indoor air.

The majority of people spend most of their time indoors, and there is a significant difference between the air qualities that you experience indoors compared to outdoors. For example, indoor air quality is about five times worse than the quality of air outside.

It can be detrimental to the health of those who spend the majority of their time inside. This improved air quality is why ERVs are becoming increasingly important, due to their various health benefits and ability to ensure a safe, healthy, and hygienic indoor living environment.

Why Is There a Growing Need For ERVs? 

These days, buildings and homes are built using modern techniques that promote sustainability and are constructed in ways that are effective at conserving electricity and are also concerned with reducing the costs of having these properties.

Therefore, for this reason, modern structures are constructed to meet these energy preservation standards and ensure that they are maintained.

Most buildings are also designed based on expert insulation standards and are also made to be highly airtight so that the air cannot escape easily.

However, although modern builders follow these insulation standards to promote energy efficiency, they also have significant drawbacks. 

Mainly, they limit and restrict the flow of fresh and natural air entering these buildings and homes, meaning the indoor air quality suffers drastically. 

What Effects Do ERVs Have on Air Quality?

An ERV can help regulate airflow by ensuring that low-quality and stale air growing in the indoor environment is expelled outdoors. The units fans filter the air, eliminating dust, debris, and pathogens from inside your home. As this happens, poor quality and stale air from inside are released outside. 

This feature is nothing less than a lifesaver for asthmatics or those individuals with seasonal allergies, as it helps ensure a safe and healthy indoor environment. Moreover, an energy recovery ventilator also helps to expel and eliminate any odors present or materialize in the house. 

Energy recovery ventilators can be considered a revolutionary product to improve air quality within your home. Not only is it environmentally more friendly than other types of air purifiers, but also cost-effective. 

How Do ERV Systems Work?

An energy recovery ventilator system has many functions in addition to improving indoor air quality. Here we will help you break down all the different uses of this apparatus:

Energy Capture from Exhausted Air

These systems works by capturing the detained air exhausted from inside the house and then using that same expelled air to create an energy source.

Simultaneously, the ERV draws in air from outside the home. This exchange process uses two ventilation ducts placed alongside each other to transfer the two different streams of air—fresh air from outside and stale air present indoors.

Fans that do not allow the two types to cross are contained between these ducts. The fans filter the air, eliminating dust, debris, and any potential pathogens from coming inside your home. As this happens, poor quality and stale air from inside your home are released outside.

An ERV's exchange component and vents on a home's exterior.

Therefore, an ERV requires less energy than other ventilation systems as it reuses the generated energy, resulting in reduced energy waste.  

Additionally, the system effectively treats humidity and temperature control while pumping air into your home.

As a result, there is less need for air conditioners or heaters, as the ERV does the job effectively and will ensure your HVAC lasts longer and you save on energy costs. 

Dehumidifies Indoor Living Spaces

Humidity is a severe issue in many different countries. Moisture and humidity are responsible for many problems, including the promotion and growth of mold and algae.  

Moreover, the mold particles and the dust flowing in the air can be highly harmful to human health if inhaled for an extended period. It is highly detrimental to asthmatic people who have sinus-related issues and even those who suffer from chest congestion.  

Therefore, it is crucial to make sure that the air within your indoor spaces is dehumidified and there is a clean and fresh air pumping ventilation system within your home, workplace, or any indoor environment to ensure only safe and clean air is being inhaled.

To do this, you must consider investing in ERV air exchange systems. They are the more environmentally-intelligent choice and a cost-effective, safe and healthy solution to get superior air quality within your homes. 

The ERV serves to dehumidify the indoor air effectively.

Most units also have built-in air exchangers, which cool and heat the indoor space during summers and winters.

The system cools down during the summer and removes the moisture from the air released inside the house. The same goes for winter, when the air is preheated and made dry by the ERV system to achieve optimal humidity conditions. 

No Ozone Releases 

Some air purifying systems release ozone to kill harmful microbiological organisms and harmful substances floating within the environment. However, these ozone particles can also worsen conditions such as asthma or be detrimental to those with specific allergies such as dust.  

On the other hand, an energy recovery ventilator does not employ ozone particles or any other harmful substances that treat the environment. Therefore, this ensures that inhaled air is significantly safer and healthier.

Moreover, this does not aggravate those with problems such as asthma as they are proven to be safer and overall superior to air purifiers that use ozone and other substances to treat the indoor environment. 

Therefore, due to this reason and the fact that ERVs also serve to effectively dehumidify air and demote the growth of substances like molds and algae, ERVs are significantly better for improving air conditions and for an overall safer, risk-free and comfortable environment.

More Environmentally-Friendly

Since energy recovery ventilators use the same energy expelled from the indoor air within the house, they can treat and reuse that same energy to push the clean and fresh air back into the home

This process saves and conserves energy drastically as additional air conditioning or heating units are not required while using an ERV system.  

Moreover, this manages to effectively take some load off your HVAC system and doesn’t require much energy. After installing an ERV, you do not need to use other modern devices such as an air humidifier as it works as an automatic de-humidifier. 

Thus, an ERV system is significantly better for the environment in conserving and limiting the energy wasted. 

Benefits of Installing an Energy Recovery Ventilator

Many various benefits come with installing an energy recovery ventilator. We have mentioned some of the most significant and notable ones below:

  • Improves overall breathing and promotes healthier breathing conditions
  • Improves indoor air quality and reduces the risk for asthmatic patients. 
  • Boosts and works to conserve overall energy efficiency.
  • Serves to effectively remove harmful substances from the air: such as pollutants, contaminants, dust, and pollen.
  • Reduces the use of systems like air-conditioning and heating systems. 
  • Reduces the risk of humidity-borne substances like mold, algae, and mildew. 
  • Ensures less load on the HVAC system, preserving it longer.
  • Limits the spread of odors in the house and works to diffuse them.
  • Improves living conditions and promotes better sleep and lifestyle due to healthier air.
  • Reduces allergic or harmful particles from the air, such as pollen, dust, and other outdoor particles. 
  • Regulates temperature within the household, without additional AC or heating units. 

How Much Do ERV Systems Cost?

An ERV system can cost anywhere between $1,000 to $4,500 on average, depending on the system you choose to install. The average for an ERV system with installation is estimated to be around $2000. 

However, depending on the type of system you choose to install in your residence, several different factors determine the cost you’ll incur while setting up and establishing an ERV. They include: 

  • The model or brand
  • Placement of the ERV
  • The requirements for ventilation needed
  • Size of the indoor environment
  • Location of the indoor environment
  • Existing ductwork and electrical connections

The Bottom Line

One of the primary health benefits of installing an ERV is improved, safer, and healthier air conditions indoors to ensure your family and loved ones are comfortable and safe indoors. If that’s your priority, then an ERV will undoubtedly be worth it in the long run. 

Now that you have all the benefits and know all the information about an energy recovery ventilation system, you are also equipped to install one in your home. 

However, before choosing a unit, make sure to consult with a home performance expert to ensure you have made the right decision based on your unique preferences. 

Good luck!

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