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

Conventional heating systems, like HVAC units, can negatively effect your house’s indoor air quality. Having a heat recovery ventilator installed in your house is a significant decision that can dramatically impact your home’s air quality, comfort, and electricity bills. 

For many homeowners, it’s a choice between having fresh air and a warmer and comfortable house, which is tricky because opening windows during winter isn’t an option either. In such cases, heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) can help.

These systems improve ventilation and enhance air quality without compromising your home’s temperature. So when you have an HRV system installed, you won’t need to choose between comfort and good-quality indoor air. 

If you have already made up your mind to install a heat recovery ventilator in your home, the biggest question on your mind is probably how much these systems cost?

Well, continue reading to determine how much money you need to invest in installing a reliable HRV system. 

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

Remember that costs can increase significantly, especially if you are a novice and have never installed a heat recovery ventilator before. Thus, we highly advise you to hire an insured and licensed HRV contractor to install the system in your house. 

Also, make sure that you have a copy of the Heat Recovery Systems Manufacturer’s recommended installation requirements before starting the installation process. This way, you can ensure your project doesn’t cost you too much in repairs several years down the line. 

What Factors Effect 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 separate 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.

They generally require routing ductwork to various rooms where you want to exhaust stale air to the outdoors, especially laundry rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms. Usually, the central air-conditioning and heating conditioning systems return-air supply increases the price. 

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 specific model of the heat recovery ventilator. 
  • 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 US. For instance, costs might be higher in smaller or rural areas than in bigger urban cities. 

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.

If your house has excess infiltration due to leaky windows and poorly-insulated shell, the airflow will bypass the heat exchanger, thereby canceling out its work. 

While they are regarded as most effective in frigid climates, heat recovery ventilators can also be used for regions with hot summers. In fact, the actual figures indicate that heat recovery ventilators might offer better savings in hot, air-conditioning climates. 

The electricity required to run air conditioners is much more costly than any other fuel. Thus every BTU you can recapture might have three times the value of the savings of heating fuels such as natural gas. 

A BTU measures the amount of heat needed to increase the temperature of 1 pound of water by 1°F. The higher your energy costs, the more you need to install a heat recovery ventilator. 

HRVs are perfect for homes experiencing high humidity during winter. Moreover, enthalpy-type heat recovery ventilators can facilitate air conditioning in regions where humidity is high during summers.

An HRV might also be a feasible solution in places with a formaldehyde or radon pollution problem. Nevertheless, this needs to be determined by an experienced air-quality professional. 

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?

To get the maximum benefit from your heat recovery ventilator and minimize maintenance costs, you must invest in its proper maintenance. Here are some ways to achieve this: 

  • Replace or 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. 
  • 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.  

Last Few Words

The actual cost of installing a heat recovery ventilator inside your home depends on several factors. However, first, make sure to determine if an HRV is actually suitable for your region and worth your money, and always purchase from reliable and trustworthy retailers.

Lastly, follow the maintenance tips outlined in this article to minimize repair costs and recoup your investment as quickly as possible.

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