Among the products that we install to help homes with comfort, indoor air quality, and energy savings, the energy recovery ventilator (or ERV for short) is one that combines all three. For many households, it’s a fantastic addition to the HVAC system.
The name, however, sometimes causes confusion with customers. How exactly is an ERV “recovering” energy? It’s a device that brings in the fresh air, so what energy is there to recover?
The Energy Recovery Ventilator in Winter
Because the winter is coming up, the example we’ll use of an ERV is how it works in cold weather. Keep in mind that an ERV is useful all around the year and helps in the summer as well.
On a typical cold day, you use energy in your home to power the heating system—probably a furnace. If you allow fresh air to enter the house through an open window or door, it permits heat to escape, and that energy goes to waste. This is the energy that an energy recovery ventilator recovers. Instead of allowing hot air outside and cold air inside, the ERV uses the hot air to first warm up the cold air before exhausting it outside. The ERV “recovers” around 80% of the thermal energy in the air to warm up the fresh air. This is why you can expect to pay less for heating during the winter with an ERV working for you: fresh air comes in, and the energy that might otherwise get away is put to use again.
It’s easy to flip this around for summer operation. The energy the air conditioner expends to cool the air is recovered and use to draw heat out of the incoming hot air. The money you put into comfort comes back to you.
If you’re curious to know more about using an ERV (or the similar heat recovery ventilator), simply contact our staff!