When it comes to energy efficiency in Vermont, it’s important to design net zero homes to have heat recovery ventilation systems built into them. But what exactly is a heat recovery ventilation system, and what does it do?
In short, a heat recovery ventilator, or HRV, warms incoming fresh air with heat from outgoing stale air in the home. The two channels of air don’t mix but are close enough to each other to exchange the reclaimed heat energy from one channel to the other before it leaves the home. Pretty smart, right? It sure is. In fact, an HRV can reclaim up to 85% more energy than other standard heating and A/C units. More facts about HRV systems are compiled in this practical Q&A below:
Q: What are the benefits of an HRV?
A: HRV units have built-in air filters that allow increased indoor air quality. This is particularly important for air tight net zero construction in Vermont. HRV systems are also capable of humidifying or dehumidifying homes to proper humidity levels. In this way, homeowners can enjoy the benefits of a healthier indoor climate with reduced pollutants and chances for mildew to develop.
Q: Is an HRV effective in New England’s frigid climate?
A: Yes! An HRV system performs better in more extreme climate temperatures, such as those during New England’s cold winter nights. Because of this, HRV heaters have become a popular choice for homes in Vermont, New Hampshire, and even in Europe to stay cozy all winter long.
Q: What kind of maintenance is needed for an HRV?
A: Fancy as they may seem, HRV units require pretty simple maintenance – vacuum the filter every 6 months and replace it each year. That’s it. For particularly frigid temps, you’ll want to keep the unit running to prevent the condensation inside from freezing, but that’s really the only thing to watch for. The rest takes care of itself.
Q: What is the typical cost range for buying and installing a new HRV system?
A: The cost of installing a new HRV is typically rolled into the overall construction costs of building net zero homes in Vermont and other states. The exact cost, of course, will depend on how big your house is and how much air you need to move. It’s safe to say that in new home construction, the relative cost is minor, and the overall benefit in energy efficiency extensive.
Q: Can an HRV system be turned off at certain times of the year?
A: It certainly can. But my recommendation is that HRV systems remain on throughout the year. The units follow an on/off cycle throughout the day, helping to ensure removal of excessive moisture and indoor contaminants and keeping the indoor environment fresh, dry and healthy.
As a required component of net zero construction in Vermont, it’s crucial to do the right homework on heat recovery ventilation systems and find out which ones will work best for your home. Learn as much as you can about HRV installation practices, too, as it’s equally important to choose a knowledgeable and qualified company to install it for you the proper way. After all, your net zero home is a valuable investment to you, and it’s worth the effort. A well-built home is a prudent one that ensures homeowners peace of mind.