Indoor air quality affects your health and safety. Opening a window isn’t always possible so you need other methods to replace stale indoor air with outdoor air.
Most homes have an exhaust fan in each bathroom and a range hood above the stove. These fans extract the moist air created when we take a hot shower or cook that delicious soup. They must be sized and installed correctly to work well.
Exhaust fans must be kept clean and well-maintained to ensure maximum performance. You also need to have a professional clean out the ductwork annually since a mucked up duct reduces the fan’s performance.
Heat recovery ventilators (HRVs)
Whenever you use a fan to extract air that has already been heated (or cooled in summer), you have to replace it. Typically outdoor air seeps in to make up the difference when you open the door. It’s not tremendously noticeable since the airflows are small. But it does affect your bill when you have to heat that outdoor air.
Heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) take your exhaust air and passes it through a core that transfers some of the heat to the incoming makeup air. This heats the incoming air so that your heating system has less work to do to warm it up to the indoor temperature, saving you energy.
Energy recovery ventilators (ERVs)
While HRVs transfer heat to the incoming air in winter, ERVs transfer both heat and moisture, recovering more energy overall. So in the wintertime, your incoming air would be less dry as the moisture is transferred from the exhaust. In the summer, the incoming air would have some humidity removed by the conditioned exhaust air.
Considerations for HRVs and ERVs
Because of the push towards energy savings (plus, who wouldn’t want to lower their bills, right?), ERVs and HRVs are becoming requirements for new buildings and most renovations in the US and Canada. So what else do you have to consider before taking the leap?
Which exhaust air to pass through
Your range hood will have to remain since you can’t pass grease-laden exhaust air through a heat recovery core. You can also choose to leave your existing bathroom exhaust fans and install an HRV or ERV to provide general ventilation throughout your home.
These units are larger than the typical ceiling mounted exhaust fans so they need a dedicated space available, with clearances for maintenance. You also need room to install insulated intake and exhaust ductwork.
You’ll need a professional assessment
As you can tell, your home’s ventilation system can get complicated. If you need to discuss your options, give us a call and we can help you assess your needs.