Who doesn’t want to feel better and saving more on their seasonal energy bills? As it turns out, one of the keys to achieving both these goals is something called an air exchanger.
Up until the early 20th century, the only air exchanger available was opening a window. Once the window opened, the stale air drifted out and the fresh air drifted in.
Now we have much more sophisticated technology. And it is a good thing, too, because in the wake of the global pandemic, we really need reliable methods to keep our air clean and fresh.
But perhaps the best news is that this air exchange can be done in a way that also lowers energy use and monthly bills. Read on to find out how!
What Is An Air Exchanger?
An air exchanger is sometimes called a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) or energy recovery ventilator (ERV).
These two devices are very similar. The only real difference is the degree of humidity balancing each device delivers along with the continual air exchanges.
Here in the far north, the heat recovery ventilator, with its modest impact on indoor air humidity, is nearly always the right choice. Reason being, you don’t want too much humidity reduction when our indoor air is already dry so much of the year.
At the most fundamental level, either model of air exchanger will continually exhaust stale indoor air and replace it with fresh outdoor air.
In addition, the air exchanger will recycle heat energy to pre-cool incoming air in the summer and pre-heat incoming air in the winter.
In summary, the air exchanger is a three-in-one system that delivers three results.
- Exhausts stale indoor air and replaces it with fresh air.
- Balances indoor humidity levels throughout your space.
- Recycles heat energy to pre-cool or pre-heat incoming air and lower energy bills.
How Does a Heat Recovery Ventilator Do This?
So now let’s take a closer look at exactly how a heat recovery ventilator accomplishes these three desirable results.
(By the way, did you know that heat recovery ventilators are so good at keeping indoor air fresh and clean that the city of Toronto now requires all new home construction to include installation of an air exchanger?)
A heat recovery ventilator divides air flow into two separate pathways: fresh incoming air and stale outgoing air. These two pathways are completely self-contained so there is no cross-contamination.
In between these two air pathways is the heart of the heat recovery ventilator, the heat/energy recovery core. This core component is able to transfer energy in the form of heat from one air stream to another.
In the winter, heat energy trapped in the stale outgoing air is recaptured through the heat recovery core and used to preheat the cold fresh air.
In the summer, the heat from the fresh incoming air is captured by the energy recovery core and exhausted back outside, effectively pre-cooling the warm fresh air.
As this process is happening, it also serves to help balance seasonal indoor humidity levels, mildly reducing indoor summer humidity and boosting indoor winter humidity.
You can get a much clearer visual picture of how this works by visiting our “how it works” page.
I Don’t Have Ducts – Can I Still Use An Air Exchanger?
Central (ducted) HVAC systems are not as common here in Canada as they are amongst our neighbors further south.
However, ductwork-based heating and cooling systems are becoming more common with the recent summer heat increases brought about by climate change.
But if you don’t have ductwork, does this mean you can’t use a heat recovery ventilator?
Until very recently, the sad answer would have been “yes.”
But COVID and other indoor air quality concerns have sparked ever-increasing innovation in the HVAC field. Today, a ductless version of the air exchanger is available if you don’t have a ducted HVAC unit.
Many of the new ductless air exchanger systems also have optional add-ons such as specialized air filters to trap fine solid particles like pollen and dust.
Different ductless HRV models work differently to regulate indoor air ventilation and exhaust stale air, so be sure to research which model best meets your requirements.
And if you are lucky enough to have ducted HVAC, it is easy to add a heat recovery ventilator that works with your existing ductwork to route air in and out of your space, balance humidity and lower energy bills.
How Much Can You Save By Adding An Air Exchanger?
Various official estimates suggest that a heat recovery ventilator can capture anywhere from 75 to 90 percent of heat energy present in your incoming or outgoing air.
(To get the maximum benefit, be sure your new heat recovery ventilator is an Energy Star certified unit.)
Of course, it is worth remembering that your new air exchanger will also be drawing some energy to operate.
This typically works out to about a fifty percent reduction in seasonal energy expenses to heat or cool your home.
So what might this look like in terms of money back in your pocket?
The average homeowner in Ontario spends around $2,358 per year on energy expenses. Approximately 64 percent of that amount goes for heating and cooling indoor air.
This means the typical home costs $1,509 to heat and cool annually. What if you could reduce that amount by half?
That would bring your annual HVAC energy bills down to just $755! Your investment would likely pay for itself within the first year and deliver savings every year thereafter.
Contact Shipton’s Heating and Cooling in Hamilton, Ontario
Looking for HVAC in Oakville, Burlington and Hamilton areas? Ready to lower your seasonal energy bills and stay healthier by installing a heat recovery ventilator?