January 19, 2016
By Mark Paup

Winter Energy Efficiency with an ERV or HRV

Updated January 18, 2024

To save energy when you warm your household during the winter—not to mention keep you and your family as comfortable as possible—you have to make sure that the inside of the house stays sealed off as much as possible from the cold outdoors. This means effective insulation, but also keeping doors and windows shut and precautions taken to eliminate drafts around their edges. Unfortunately, this also means keeping out fresh air, which can hurt your home’s indoor air quality as the concentration of trapped contaminants inside it accumulates.

There are ways to preserve your home’s energy efficiency while still receiving fresh air, however. You don’t need to throw open the doors and windows, you simply need to arrange for the professional installation of an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) or heat recovery ventilator (HRV).

How ERVs and HRVs protect energy efficiency in winter

Both devices (they work similarly) are designed to allow fresh outdoor air into the HVAC system of a home, but without placing too much additional stress on the heater. They do this by running a current of fresh outdoor air through a countercurrent of stale indoor air. The warm indoor air loses heat to the outdoor air, a process that warms up the outdoor air to a temperature closer to what you want for the insides of the house. The recovered heat means that the heating system needs to work far less to create warmth.

There’s another benefit, which is that ERVs and HRVs are also useful during the summer. The countercurrent heat exchange simply works in the opposite direction: hot outdoor air loses its heat to the cooler indoor air, pre-cooling the incoming air to remove the strain from the air conditioner.

To help you choose between an HRV and ERV (given your home, one is probably better than the other), make sure you first consult with indoor air quality experts. Then rely on them for an excellent installation job.

Golden Rule provides installation of energy recovery ventilators and heat recovery ventilators in Des Moines, IA.

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