Common Questions About Heat Recovery Ventilators
We are receiving a lot of interest these days for heat recovery ventilators (HRVs). The market in Ottawa and the Valley is becoming much more aware of environmental concerns with home heating and efficiency. People are also aware of the health benefits of air filtration and “fresh air” especially with a well sealed home. This article examines the two most common questions that we receive relating to HRVs.
What Is a HRV?
A HRV is short for heat recovery ventilator and is also commonly known as an air exchanger. In simple terms a HRV circulates stale air out of the home replacing it with fresh outdoor air. The reason it is called a heat recovery ventilator is because of its ability to retain heat from the air you are exhausting. The core of the unit absorbs heat and as stale air passes through it this heat is transferred into the cold outdoor air that passes into the home!
The unit itself is a small box (generally ranging from 2’X2’ up to 4’X4’) that is installed in your mechanical room, closet or ceiling space depending on the installation parameters and indoor air quality goals. The box contains 4 “ports” that are designed as inlets for fresh air and outlets for exhaust air. The installer connects 5 or 6 inch insulated venting to each of these ports to transport air from your home to the outdoors and vice versa. Inside the unit you find a motor that is the driving force for exhausting stale air and bringing fresh air in. More details on the installation parameters below. This mighty little box can exchange the entire air in your home while still retaining the majority of the energy you have paid for as heat through the furnace.
What Are The Benefits of a HRV?
There are a few common reasons people choose to install HRVs in their home. Here are the major benefits:
- The home is extremely well insulated: Building code now dictates that with the high insulation values in new homes they require the installation of an HRV. This is because the home does not “breathe” the way an older home does through poorer insulation, old windows or cracks in the house. The humidity, carbon dioxide from breathing and odours get trapped inside the tight envelope making the air in the home unhealthy.
- The home has high humidity: As the insulation values continue to rise, so does the humidity! Many homeowners find that simply boiling water or taking a shower can cause humidity levels to skyrocket, causing water formation on cold windows. An HRV can aid in exhausting this moist air and bringing in dry clean outdoor air.
- My family gets sick or has allergies all winter: Living in Ottawa means we generally cannot open our windows all winter long. This traps allergens, bacteria and viruses in our home. Once again, exchanging the air using an HRV is one of the best ways to ensure your family is breathing fresh clean air.
- My House smells musty: Bringing in fresh outdoor air and exhausting indoor pollutants from cooking, cleaning supplies and other day to day activities is one of the primary goals of a properly installed HRV.
How Much Does an HRV Cost In Ottawa (Updated For 2022)?
Like any other renovation project costs can vary greatly on HRV installations. Much of the cost factors are related to the labour and installation which are affected by the following parameters:
- How far does the venting have to run?
- What type of material do the installers need to core through to create penetration points in the home?
- What size HRV suits my home?
- What quality of unit am I looking for?
- Is there lots of room in the mechanical are for installation?
- Are there finished areas the venting must run through?
All of these items play major factors in pricing the installation of an HRV. That being said, the general price range for an HRV installation in Ottawa in 2022 is $2000-$4500. We have seen the average cost of an HRV in Ottawa is $2500-$3000 +HST
HRV Installation Requirements
The specific guidelines for clearances and installation parameters on an HRV are quite stringent. It is important to always involve a qualified contractor in your design and installation. Unfortunately we have seen HRVs that cost $1500 for installation in Ottawa that need to be completely redesigned due to safety issues. Recently we were called into a home that had Carbon Monoxide detectors alerting the homeowner of high levels. The HRV intake was installed much to close to a water heater exhaust and was pulling products of combustion into the home. This is dangerous and careless on the part of the installing contractor and not only did it cost the homeowner much more to redesign the system but could have potentially cost them their lives!
Simplified Loop VS Dedicated
The final item to address when speaking about HRV installations is the difference between a “simplified loop” and a dedicated system. A simplified loop tends to be the perferred method when addding an HRV after the home is built. A simplified loop is tied into your homes ductwork system. It pulls the stale air out of the return ductwork and reintroduces fresh air into the ductwork stream before the furnace. This system works well as it can pull air from the entire home and then circulate the clean air throughout the space.
A dedicated system is popularily installed during home construction. This system uses the HRV exhausts in liue of bathroom fans and kitchen exhausts. In this style system the fresh air can be reintroduced directly into the ducwork or dumped directly into bedrooms and living spaces. The only downside of introducing this fresh air directly into spaces is the need to heat this air without the use of a furnace. In these cases electric heaters are used to ensure freezing cold air is not flooding your home.
For more information about our HRVs please visit our heat recovery ventilator page. If you are interested in discussing your specific requirements and finding out what an HRV costs, please call Airzone HVAC Services at 613 592 5770 or request a free no obligation quote today!