June 13th, 2018
When the weather gets excessively cold in the winter, our natural instinct is to crank up the furnace to stay toasty warm & comfortable in our homes. Because of this, during the long cold months of winter the air in our homes ends up becoming stale and can contain higher levels of dust and airborne contaminants. Most of us don’t want to open our windows and end up losing all the heat our furnaces generate, so what’s the solution? Luckily, there’s a technology called Heat Recovery Ventilation that helps address these problems by adding fresh air to your house and helping to keep the heat in your home at the same time.
What is a Heat Recovery Ventilator?
In a typical Canadian home in the winter, the air inside is recycled and recirculated through the furnace multiple times to be warmed and distributed throughout the house. As days go by, and we keep our doors and windows closed tight to help keep the warmth in and the cold at bay, this process inevitably results in stale, dry air.
In order to add fresh air to the home without needing to open a door or window, a ventilator must be added to draw in cold outside air which is passed through the furnace and warmed before it enters the living spaces of your home. At the same time, stale air needs to be exhausted from the home. However, this stale air also contains a large amount of heat energy that can be re-captured instead of simply being exhausted to the outside environment. This is where the Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) comes in to play.
HRV’s look on the outside to be a simple box, not unlike a piece of ductwork. However, under the surface they are constructed with a series of criss-cross air channels that overlap each other on the inside of the ventilator. These air channels consist of two sets; one for cool outside air and one for warm inside air. As the warm air passes through the channels, it heats up the metal throughout the HRV before it is exhausted to the outside. At the same time, the cool exterior air passes through its own set of channels inside the HRV, using the recaptured warmth of the inside air to heat it up and reduce the work that the furnace needs to do in order to bring it up to the desired temperature level.
Benefits of Heat Recovery
This clever approach to reclaiming energy within your HVAC system has many benefits for homeowners. First and foremost, it solves the problem of getting fresh air in to your home during the coldest months of the year and helps to rid your home of dust and contaminants that may be present of the air. HRVs achieve this while simultaneously re-using the heat that is already built up in the air of your home, which means you use a lot less energy in the process.
Heat recovery also aids in the management of condensation that can build up in your home from an excess of humidity. This moisture can cause long-term problems in homes, such as the potential for mold growth or the swelling and distortion of wood floors and framing.
Standard in New Home Construction
Because of these benefits, it’s now standard procedure to include HRVs in new homes being built in Ontario. When combined with other aspects of new homes such as modern high-efficiency furnaces and energy-saving windows, HRVs are an important part of improving the overall comfort of your home while at the same time reducing your energy bills and alleviating some of the demand placed on the power grids.
Add to an Existing Home
Owners of older homes can also benefit from HRV technology, as the systems can easily be installed and retrofitted in to virtually any existing furnace and HVAC system. Most of the time the process is quite simple, and the HRV can be integrated directly in to your homes existing ductwork. However, there are some types of homes where the system requires a separate set of ductwork to be installed to accommodate the HRV, which is known as a ‘dedicated installation’. Your HVAC professional will let you know what will be required in order to install an HRV in your home, as well as any special considerations that fall outside of a standard installation.
Freshen Your Air and Save on Energy
If the thought of another winter full of stale, dry air makes you cringe, then why not consider having an HRV installed to help bring fresh air in to your home all year? We’d be happy to meet with you and provide all the details on what an HRV installation would involve for your home. Our friendly team of home comfort professionals will guide you through the process and answer all your questions. Contact us today and we’d be glad to arrange for an on-site meeting to discuss how an HRV can help improve your home comfort.