What Are HRV/ERV Systems?

There are new technologies in heating, cooling and ventilation.  An important factor is the recovery of exhaust air.  There are two similar systems, Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) and Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV).  Both of these systems are considered energy-saving measures.

Differnce between HRV & ERV

HRV system uses the heat in the air being exhausted to preheat incoming (fresh) air.  The two air sources never mix.  They just go through separate channels and conductivity warms the incoming air. 

ERV system adds humidity; it catches the humidity to keep it where it came from.  In the winter, it retains humidity inside the structure so the air temperature is warmer and in the summer, it leaves the moisture outside to reduce the load on air conditioning.

Benefits of HRV and ERV Systems

There are some real advantages with the modern HRV and ERV systems.

  • Health – Fresh air is incorporated into the inside of the building but with the reduction of contaminants like pollens, molds, mildew and pollutants. 
  • Balanced Temperatures – HRV does not generate heat; it recirculates the heat from the exhaust system (from lots of sources like hot water heaters, electric heaters, fireplaces, etc.) into the inside area.  ERV has the added advantage of converting the outdoor moisture in the winter to help keep the interior of the structure from drying out and in the summer it sends excess humidity back outside.
  • Monetarily – These systems reduce the energy requirements.  With less energy usage comes real savings in costs and is beneficial to the environment by reducing the need for power.  Check individual efficiency ratings to find out how much you can save.

Cost Of HRV/ERV Systems

Investing in one of these systems will generally cost between $500, $1,500+ installation. Smaller, single room units are as low as $450 and $500+ installation. Of course, different brands will be available at different prices and installation costs may vary.  You should also realize that when it comes time to sell your home, this is a major improvement that can boost the final price.

Top Brands Of HRV/ERV Systems

Lifebreath is in the ventilation business for 30 years, they offer Energy Star ratings.

  • Imperial Manufacturing
    • They offer the Greentek line, which is in the process of renaming to Systemair Inc. These are reported to be some of the quietest operating systems.
  • Lennox HRV
    • Over a century of operating in Canada, means stability and a name you can trust.

Maintenance Of HRV/ERV Systems

Everything works better when you take care of it.  HRV and ERV take a little time but the work is really simple.  Check the owner’s manual for details:

  • Clean or replace filters between 1 and 3 months
  • Clear air intakes connection
  • Clean and lubricate fans and dampers
  • Annually clean the heat exchange core and the condensate drain

Frequently Asked Questions

There are many questions that arise when looking at these systems. 

  • Generally people want to know what size to purchase and that depends on the size of the structure and the amount of air you want exchanged.  This is a good question for your HVAC dealer. HVAC Technician would need the room sizes or sq footage of your house and ceiling hights to quote you the right size of HRV or ERV systems.
  • Next property owners want to know where to get these devices.  That is easy; check with your local heating and cooling company.

If you are serious about improving the air quality in your home or business, or want to be more efficient in your use of an HVAC system, consider HRV and ERV ventilator systems.


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Any complex mechanical system is subject to breakdowns. The only way to keep that in check is have an HVAC technician come and optimize your systems. We also do HVAC Design and install all kinds of heating and cooling equipment.

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