Pros And Cons Of A Heat Recovery Ventilation System

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

When it comes to your home, there are few things that are as important as having a good HVAC system. It’s what will keep your home warm and also regulate your home’s temperature. In recent years, heat recovery ventilation systems have become very popular. As one of the newest “hot features” of homes, it’s worth taking a look at what they can and cannot do for your home.

Heat recovery ventilation systems (or HRVs) are popular because they offer fresh air from outside while also retaining the heat you have in your home. They run quietly, help keep your air quality good, and also reduce heating bills. However, they can cost a lot of money if they are not initially added to the home. Unlike energy recovery ventilation systems, HRVs do not reduce humidity in the home.

Getting a heat recovery ventilation system is a good way to make sure that your home’s air is awesome. But, it’s a major undertaking that is worth talking about. So, maybe we should do that, don’t you think?

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What Is A Heat Recovery Ventilation System?

This is a great question. A heat recovery ventilation system is a ventilation system that works between two different temperatures. The way they work is that they bring in new air to your home. Then, they use the stale air that is from inside your home to warm up the new air. Once the warming is complete, the old air gets sent out of your home while the new air is let in.

All of these procedures are done with the help of a mechanical system. A typical HRV will have multiple fans blowing the air through your home, and will have air pass through a “core” central control unit to heat the air up. To ensure your home never gets stuffy, air is piped through small diameter ducts. So, it’s a large-scale, house-wide system.

What Are The Perks Of Heat Recovery Ventilation Systems?

As people become increasingly interested in good air quality, it’s becoming easy to see why heat recovery ventilation systems are so popular. When you look at these perks below, it’s obvious why they’re becoming a part of the mainstream building world…

Excellent Ventilation

In the past, leaks of air would get into your house willy-nilly. The drafts were annoying, but they prevented homes from feeling stuffy. In newer homes, we’re seeing more airtight construction than ever before. This leads to rooms feeling very stuffy, very quick. As a result, more people are looking for a way to introduce fresh air into their houses.

This is one of the best reasons to have an HRV in your home. It literally makes your whole home feel fresh and breezy, which is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Better Warmth (And Cooling)

Here’s another reason why people tend to have a hard time without an HRV. If you want ventilation, you usually have to give up some form of temperature control. If you want temperature control, traditional ventilation isn’t about to happen. With a heat recovery ventilation system, you get to keep your home warm but also get the fresh air that you want to have.

It is important to remember that this works both ways. If your HVAC is currently cooling down the home, the HRV will keep your home cooler. It’s about regulating the temperature and matching the temperature of the room to the temperature you want. The end result is a more welcoming home that also improves your temperature control. Speaking of which…

Lower Heating Bills

Let’s face it. Heating is one of those bills that has a natural tendency of creeping up on you. And it’s getting more expensive to heat a home every year. HRVs are designed to reduce the amount of heat you have to introduce in your home by keeping the heat inside at all times. This leads to significant savings every single year.

How much you can save will depend on a variety of factors, including the type of area that you live in. At times, the savings you will see on your bills will range from around 10 percent savings to as much as 20 percent.

Improved Air Quality

Are you the type of person who sneezes and sniffles every time they set foot in their home? You’re not alone. That’s a sign that the air quality in your house is not what it should be. When you don’t have fresh air in your home, all the dust and dirt in your home has nowhere to go. As a result, the air quality suffers and you will end up inhaling allergens at an increasingly high level.

One good reason to get a heat recovery ventilation system is that it gives your home a way to get rid of all the dust that tends to accumulate in your home. As a result, it’s one of the best tools for people who have allergens to have in their homes.

What Are The Cons Of Heat Recovery Ventilation Systems?

Heat recovery ventilation systems are great, and there is no one arguing that they are not. They are starting to go mainstream for a reason, you know. In fact, studies show that around 90 percent of all homes that get them note excellent improvements in air and life quality. However, there is no such thing as a perfect system. These pitfalls might make you rethink getting an HRV for your home.

The Price Is A Little High

Well, this is actually kind of a mix between a perk and pitfall. If you have new construction and the HRV was added to it in the beginning, this will not affect you. However, if you have to install it in your home, you will have to shell out some money. Adding a heat recovery vent system to your home can cost between $1150 to $2250 for both parts and labor.

In the event that you have a home that’s particularly old, you might have to pay additional fees and fines. This can make your installation a bit rough, especially when you want to get it installed during the summer months. After all, it will most likely force you to have to deal with the muggy weather outside.

No Humidity Improvements

Heat recovery ventilation systems are excellent for people who want to keep their insulated homes extra snuggly. However, they do have a drawback that is worth noting. While they do great things for heat and heating bills, they do not do anything for your home’s humidity levels. This can be a pretty big issue, especially if you live in an area that’s notoriously humid.

If you want to get noticeable improvements in your humidity levels, then you’re going to have to go for an ERV, or energy reduction ventilation system. This is basically like an HRV, except instead of heat, it tends to work on reducing energy while keeping vents going. ERVs are better for humidity levels, which makes them a good asset to have in areas that are known for humidity.

With that said, some HRVs are starting to be made with a humidity control factor built into their cores. So while the status quo remains that humidity isn’t a major factor with HRVs, it’s starting to change.

Are Heat Recovery Ventilation Systems Worth It?

For the most part, the jury seems to agree that getting a recovery ventilation system of any type is a good move. Around 90 percent of homes with an ERV or HRV see a notable improvement. While this is a pricey (though not as pricey as roofing costs) upgrade to consider, the savings you get and the air quality you get make it well worth the investment.

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Related Questions

Should you run your HRV during the winter?

You probably should. If your HRV is running during the winter, you will be able to reduce the amount of humidity that’s trapped in the core. This, in turn, reduces the amount of mold that gets trapped there and hopefully keeps your air quality as fresh as it can be. If you’re worried about humidity, then you may want to turn on your humidity control feature (if it has one!).

Do HRVs make your home cooler?

If your air conditioning is on, then the indoor air will be cooler than the air outside. This is because HRVs are going to use the stale air from inside your home to help you regulate your temperature. This is why many parts of the country known for high heat will have an HRV as part of a typical house.

Should you run your HRV during the summer?

If you are not using your heater and are fine with the temperature in the home, you can make the decision to stop running it. In many cases, this helps keep the HRV in good enough shape to be of good use during the winter. One thing you may still want to do is run it on occasion, just to make sure that it’s still in working order before you need it.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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