Opening windows or doors for fresh air is a great way to filter out stale, stuffy, and irritating air. However, during the colder winter months, opening windows and doors to breathe fresh air into your living space is impractical. Additionally, it can quickly create an uncomfortable and freezing cold home. That is why good home ventilation over winter is critical for homeowners.
Mechanical ventilation is a great indoor air quality solution. It can be used not only year-round but works alongside your home’s HVAC system. Both ERV and HRV whole-home ventilation systems can be relied upon to ventilate homes, buildings, and any indoor space during every season, including the cold winter months. The best system for your home will depend on your space’s specific ventilation needs.
Why Mechanical Ventilation is Beneficial
With so many household expenses already, why should you bother spending money on a whole-home ventilation system? Dry stale air in your home is not only unpleasant, it’s unhealthy. It’s impossible for the human nose to detect the multitude of contaminants circulating throughout the air. While the air in your home might smell clean, that doesn’t mean it actually is. Undetectable air pollutants can poorly impact the health of occupants–worsening asthma and allergy symptoms and increasing the risk of more serious health concerns, illnesses, and respiratory diseases.
Recently, in the last few decades, quality and building regulations for homes have changed. Surprisingly, older builds constructed during a time of less regulation ensured that at least some fresh air seeped through the cracks in a home’s walls or windows. Thanks to modern construction standards, albeit helpful in many other ways, homes have less natural airflow than before.
And that’s saying something considering older homes and buildings that do have draftier spaces still require increased fresh airflow for healthy indoor air. According to the EPA, the need for ventilation in every space is clear. Whole-home ventilation systems can help remove unwanted indoor air pollutants and instead make sure only clean crisp fresh air is circulating.
What Is Mechanical Ventilation?
A mechanical ventilation whole-home or whole-building system works in tandem with the already existing HVAC system. Mechanical ventilation systems push fresh air throughout a space by circulating air through ductwork with the help of the HVAC system fans. Many of us already have space-specific ventilation systems in our homes, like bathroom fans or the fan above stove tops to remove excess moisture and smoke from the air. Whole-home systems use the same process for the same purposes just on a larger scale.
System installation is relatively painless–it simply requires the addition of the product to the HVAC system and the ability to run ductwork to the outside for access to outdoor air. This is an incredibly low-maintenance yet high-return product because it’s efficiently providing fresher cleaner air as long as the system is installed. There are two types of whole-home ventilation systems to consider for your space, they are: heat recovery ventilation systems (HRV) and energy recovery ventilation systems (ERV).
What’s The Difference?
Heat Recovery Ventilation Systems (HRV)
Heat recovery ventilation systems remove stale air from your home while bringing in fresh air from outside. The system does this by warming the air coming in from outside without having to generate its own heat. By recycling heat from the outgoing air and using it to warm the incoming air, HRV systems are incredibly energy-efficient. The stale air and fresh air never mix during the heat transfer process, ensuring only the cleanest breathing air in the living space. HRV’s are able to reduce energy bills making them a smart investment both for the short-term and long-term.
Energy Recovery Ventilation Systems (ERV)
While HRV systems have many advantages, it is not always the ideal choice. Homeowners that live in drier winter climates, in particular, will be better off choosing an energy recovery ventilation system instead. ERV systems also remove stale air from your home while bringing in fresh air from outside. And, they do so with a two-fan system in addition to a heat exchanger.
Additionally, ERV systems work to maintain good humidity levels in your home and save energy. This results in reducing the effort placed on air conditioning systems. During the cold and dry winter months, an ERV transfers humidity. The humid air being pushed out is mixed with the new dry air coming in. During warm and humid summer months, humidity from the outside air is removed before it enters the home. If the humidity levels in your home are a concern, then you should strongly consider an ERV system.
Indoor Air Quality Solutions
Many of us notice poor indoor air quality during the colder winter months. Sore throats in the morning and dry skin throughout the day are more noticeable. As a result, investing in a whole-home ventilation system is a great upgrade to better prepare for the winter weather and cold months. Contact us today to get in touch with your local indoor air quality specialist. They can survey your home or building and determine if an HRV or ERV system is more beneficial to improve the quality of air in your space.