A professional sitting at a table shows a calculator displaying the cost of an HRV to a homeowner.

Conventional heating systems, like forced-air furnaces, can negatively affect your home’s indoor air quality. Installing a HRV (heat recovery ventilator) is a step you can take to improve your home’s air quality, comfort, and you just might lower your electric bills.

HRVs are systems that are connected to the ductwork of your central HVAC system. Essentially, the HRV brings in fresh outside air, filters it, heats it, and releases it into your home. At the same time, it takes old, stagnant air out.

HRVs are often used in cold climates where ventilation during the winter months is difficult.

How Much Does an HRV Usually Cost?

Heat recovery ventilators units alone range from a low of $400 to almost $1,500. However, most of the units range from $500 to $900. The best way to estimate the total cost with installation is to get bids from HVAC contractors. 

Here is a breakdown of heat recovery ventilators costs for different levels. Note that these prices are for Alaska, and figures for other states might be different. 

Basic Unit Average UnitBest Unit 
HRV – Price of Materials $900.00 – $1215.00$1314.00 – $1429.20$1440.00 – $1620.00
HRV – Cost of Installation $135.22 – $247.82$297.45 – $342.05$351.00 – $441.00
HRV – Unit Cost$1035.22 – $1462.82$1611.45 – $1771.25$1791.00 – $2061.00
HRV – Total Average Cost per Unit $1249.02$1691.35$1926.00

Installing HRVs and other HVAC equipment should really be left to licensed contractors. These aren’t DIY jobs and you may cause more damage to the equipment than not.

Professional installations will also come with warranties, which may be void if you try to do the work yourself. 

Your best option is to call around to a few local HVAC companies and get estimates for your HRV installation.

What Factors Affect the Price of a Heat Recovery Ventilator?

Several variables can impact the overall cost of an HRV. These include:

1. Size and Number of Rooms 

Certain heat recovery ventilators mount like a room air conditioner in a wall or window opening.

This orientation is meant to handle single rooms with particular ventilation problems, such as laundry rooms, bathrooms, and artist’s studios.

These HRVs are usually on the lower end of the price spectrum. For instance, many mounted, room-sized models are priced from $350 to $450. 

On the other hand, more extensive, whole-house heat recovery ventilators provide fresh air to all the rooms in the house. These systems are usually pricier than smaller-sized HRVs but they affect the entire home.

2. Existing Ductwork 

Even though whole-house systems are generally installed in new houses, homeowners can retrofit them inside homes with good ductwork access, especially those with unfinished basements.

If there’s already existing ductwork, it becomes pretty simple to install these systems as they can take advantage of the existing return-air system, reducing the overall installation price. 

3. Size of the Heat Recovery Ventilator 

An energy recovery ventilator exchange component and vents on a home's exterior

Heat recovery ventilators are available in various sizes. For instance, Carrier manufactures 18 different models that range from 150 to 1,270 cubic feet per minute (CFM).

Generally, the higher the CFM, the more the price. However, the size you should purchase depends on the number of people in your house and the cubic capacity of the house or rooms you want to ventilate. 

4. Other Factors

Here are some additional parameters that can impact the cost of a heat recovery ventilator. 

  • Brand and model 
  • Style of the system you select.
  • Labor and supplemental material you need.
  • Square footage of your house.
  • Furnace placement and the need for extra venting or retrofitting.
  • The efficiency of the system (units with a higher efficiency generally come with a higher price tag).
  • Where you live – prices vary significantly by region across the U.S.

Is a Heat Recovery Ventilator Worth Your Money?

A heat recovery ventilator effectively ventilates well-insulated and “tight” homes with very high energy bills. A tight house collects more pollution and humidity than one with a lot of air infiltration.

For asthma and allergy sufferers, HRVs can be a big improvement in your indoor living space. 

They can also make a big difference in homes that deal with stale air and odors during the winter months. Since windows and doors cannot be opened to ventilate the home, HRVs are really the only option to bring in fresh air. 

Air purification systems can reduce pollutants and allergens but are still recirculating stale, indoor air.

Why Might an HRV Not Be Right for You?

If you live in an area with a mild climate, you might be better off with exhaust-only ventilation than a heat recovery ventilator.

There isn’t enough recoverable heat to recoup the investment in places where outdoor winter temperatures are relatively high.

As for cooling, the temperature difference between outdoor and indoor air isn’t enough to justify the unit, installation, maintenance, and operation cost. 

Where to Purchase an HRV

If you’ve decided to invest in an HRV, you need to know some of the best places to purchase the unit.

Here are some of the most reliable online retailers selling high-quality units.

1. AC Wholesalers

AC Wholesalers is an online store that only sells energy recovery and heat recovery ventilators. It has various brands, including Clean Comfort, Honeywell, Soler & Palau, Panasonic, Fantech, and Aprilaire. 

2. Amazon 

Amazon has various HRVs available on its platform. It even has individual budget-friendly parts and tools for DIY enthusiasts.

The large number of options Amazon offers also leads to a vast range of prices so that you can choose the one that best suits your budget.

3. eComfort

eComfort currently has 23 heat recovery ventilators on its platform, ranging from $543– $2,700. The online retailer has several amazing discounts and offers all throughout the year. Thus, if you are selective, you can get your chosen HRV at a reduced price!

How to Maintain Your Heat Recovery Ventilator?

  • Replace and clean air filters. Clogged or dirty filters can reduce ventilation efficiency. It would be best if you replaced or cleaned the HRV’s filters every two months.
  • Check outdoor intake and exhaust hoods. Remove waste paper, leaves, or other items that may be obstructing the outside vents.
    If the vents are blocked, your system will not work correctly. During snowy months, remove any frost or snow buildup blocking the vents. 
  • Clean the heat exchange core: Read the instruction manual for guidelines on cleaning the heat exchange core. Washing the core with soap and vacuuming it will reduce dust buildup. This should be done every 6 months.
  • Inspect ductwork and clean grills: Inspect the ductwork leading to and from your heat recovery ventilator every year. Remove and check the grills over the ends of the duct and then vacuum inside the ducts.  

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