A homeowner adjusts the settings on the interface of their energy recovery ventilator system

With today’s soaring electricity costs, homeowners are increasingly becoming more concerned about the overall energy efficiency of their properties. “Green” and sustainable building constructions are also on the rise.

Due to this, buildings are constructed based on superior insulation and airtightness standards. Unfortunately, while these standards can make a building structure more energy-efficient, it also regulates and lowers the natural flow of fresh air into your home, causing indoor air quality to suffer. 

Poor indoor air quality or ventilation can pose health risks to occupants and lead to several complications. In addition, it can even cause structural and cosmetic damage to your home.

This issue is one mechanical ventilation systems, such as energy recovery ventilators, or ERVs, help solve. They provide a simple, reliable, and proven solution to homeowners seeking improved air ventilation while conserving energy.

Therefore, we will closely examine what an energy recovery ventilator is, how it works, its main benefits, as well as see whether it’s worth your investment. 

What Is An Energy Recovery Ventilator?

An energy recovery ventilator is also commonly known as an ERV air exchanger. But what exactly is it?  

An ERV is a ventilation system containing two fans through which fresh and clean air is pulled in and stale air is exhausted from your surroundings. The system is typically connected to your HVAC system. 

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

In addition, some systems come equipped with heat exchangers that facilitate the transfer of moisture and heat between air streams, allowing your indoor spaces to retain heat during the process—something we all seek, especially during the winter season.

Apart from transferring moisture and heat between airstreams, an ERV also effectively captures pollutants, contaminants, allergens, pollen, and more, ensuring the air entering your home or office is healthy, safe, and free of any harmful particles. 

Did you know air quality inside most homes is roughly five times more polluted than the outdoor air? Filthy air is a matter of grave concern since most people spend about 90 percent of their time within their homes or other indoor spaces.

Deciding to install an ERV into your house or office space can help you quickly change this, and leave you with refreshing, clean air all day, every day.

How Do ERV Systems Work?

Humidity is a significant problem in numerous U.S. states and cities. Since humidity creates an encouraging environment for algae and mold, people might be worried about inhaling mold spores, especially those with asthma or sinusitis.

Hence, when seeking ways to dehumidify your indoor space, consider getting an ERV air exchanger. They are not only an innovative, cost-effective solution, but once you understand how they work, you will realize why an energy recovery ventilator is a valuable asset for anybody trying to improve their indoor air quality (IAQ).

Essentially, ERV ventilation systems work by: 

Capturing Energy from Exhaust

An energy recovery ventilator operates by detaining the air exhausted from your property and using that same air to generate the energy required for ventilation of your space. In addition, the system also treats and purifies the air it ventilates into your space instead of allowing access to humid air like a fan generally does.

As the air is pretreated with an ERV system, your home’s heat pump and air conditioner units will not have to work as hard. This treatment will allow your HVAC system to last longer and promote healthy and improved indoor air quality for all occupants. 

Dehumidify Indoor Living Spaces

An energy recovery ventilator works during both warm and cold seasons. The ERV air exchangers eliminate moisture and humidity from the air entering your indoor space in hot seasons.

Not many people know this, but an HVAC system alone isn’t enough to effectively control and lower the humidity in your house. Therefore, it is crucial to handle it another way.

As stated easier, humidity breeds mold, which can be awful for people with health concerns like asthma or sinusitis. The energy recovery wheel inside the ventilator cools down the air before it enters your space. 

No Release of Harmful Ozone

Sometimes air purifying systems release ozone into their surroundings, killing microbial organisms. However, this same particle can also aggravate certain medical conditions, including asthma. 

An energy recovery ventilator does not use ozone or ions with its passive air cleaning methods. With ERVs, the air you breathe is much safer, cleaner, and healthier.

An energy recovery ventilator takes the pressure off your HVAC system and dehumidifies the air. Collectively, these activities add up to superior indoor air quality and more comfort for your family members and employees.

Benefits of Installing an ERV System

The benefits of installing an energy recovery ventilator system into your home or office space are varied. Some of the leading advantages include:

  • Improved breathing for people suffering from asthma and sinusitis 
  • Boosting overall energy efficiency of indoor spaces
  • Removal/filtration of pollutants, allergens, formaldehyde, and other forms of toxins from indoor spaces
  • Reducing complete dependency on air conditioning and HVAC systems
  • Mitigating the risk humidity borne mold, algae, and mildew 
  • Extended life of an HVAC system
  • Limiting bathroom, kitchen, and pet odors from spreading
  • Improved sleep due to penetration of fresh, clean, and purified air into space while eliminating stale air
  • Lower need to dust indoor spaces due to the reduced buildup of dust, pollen, pet dander, and other air pollutants
  • Regulates and ensure temperatures from one room to the next remains more consistent

Is an Energy Recovery Ventilator Worth it?

The majority of HVAC systems on the market rely heavily on the quality of blower fans in the unit. However, ERVs do not. In general, their fans are smaller than those of an HVAC. While a reduced-size fan may seem like a drawback, ERVs offer a number of efficiency – and thus, cost-saving – benefits.

Even though an energy recovery ventilator system contains a relatively less powerful fan than your HVAC system does, it still exudes sufficient power to ventilate your entire house. Here’s how:

Efficiency

Compared to an HVAC system’s blower fan, the fan of an energy recovery ventilator is considerably more economical to operate. It requires less power and cycles less frequently, thereby ventilating your home without causing a massive dent in your energy bills.

Consistency

Suppose your space requires 60 cubic feet per minute (CFM) of ventilation for twenty-four hours each day. Your HVAC system’s blower fan will need to be mighty powerful to perform that kind of air exchange over the given period (i.e., 24 hours).

Instead, it’ll cycle on and off to offer the same ventilation amount in intervals. This scenario is not really ideal.

If you are indoors, it is always better for the air to be ventilating all the time, which occurs with an energy recovery ventilator. It can run all the time to ensure more consistent ventilation.

Airflow Control

It can be difficult to tell whether you are bringing in sufficient fresh air to your space with other ventilation systems. Since most of the time, the entire system is tied to your HVAC system.

This way, you will have to rely on two fans with varying power levels. In contrast, energy recovery ventilators operate independently, verifying that they bring in the right amount of air.

Simply put, an ERV system provides better control over the amount of fresh air received and more consistent ventilation. 

Humidity Control

Superior ventilation is perhaps the leading reason why getting an ERV system installed in your home or office is an excellent investment. It may be tiny, but it can do wonders for your space, plus it effectively controls humidity levels all year round. 

We have already mentioned earlier that ERV air exchangers transfer humidity from inbound to outbound air—an excellent thing for warm summer seasons. However, in colder months, an ERV also can gather moisture from the outward air and apply it to the inbound air.

Unlike other ventilation systems, an energy recovery ventilator allows you to ventilate and maintain optimal humidity levels for unmatched comfort. 

How Much Do ERV Systems Cost?

On average, an ERV system can cost anywhere between $1,000 to $4,500. According to some sources, the national average for installing an ERV system is $2000. However, several factors may affect the final cost of installing an ERV, such as: 

  • ERV model or brand
  • Furnace placement 
  • Ventilation requirement 
  • Size of your home 
  • Location of your home
  • Existing ductwork 
  • Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) for Purified & Quality Air 

Now that you know what an energy recovery ventilator is and why using one is so important, it is time to take the next step. However, before choosing an ERV system, be sure to consult a home performance expert to ensure you make the right decision.

Remember, your indoor space and personal preferences are unique. Therefore, consider all options while weighing mechanical ventilation possibilities.

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