Pros and Cons of a Heat Recovery Ventilator

Pros and Cons of a Heat Recovery VentilatorCan a heat recovery ventilator solve the problem of keeping indoor air quality fresh and healthy? Today’s tightly sealed energy efficient homes include one drawback: lack of fresh air. This means the enclosed indoor environment often stagnates as fumes, airborne particulates and water vapor accumulate to high levels.

A heat recovery ventilator (HRV) and its close cousin the energy recovery ventilator (ERV) offer 21st century solutions to home ventilation. Here’s why an HRV and ERV are today’s superior ventilation option:

  • A heat recovery ventilator draws fresh outdoor air into a central control unit, then filters and disperses it throughout the house through dedicated small-diameter ductwork. At the same time, a separate exhaust fan inside the controller removes an equal volume of stale, contaminated indoor air and exhausts it outdoors. This balanced volume of intake and exhaust preserves neutral air balance inside the home, ideal for efficient heating and cooling and optimum air quality.
  • An HRV also incorporates a heat exchange function. As cold outdoor air is inducted during winter, an integrated heat exchanger transfers indoor heat from the warmer outgoing exhaust stream to the intake stream to prevent heat loss from the house. In summer, the process reverses: heat from incoming outdoor air is transferred to the exhaust stream to avoid boosting indoor temperatures.
  • A heat recovery ventilator utilizes highly efficient fans that run continuously yet consume very little energy. A typical unit may use as little as 13 watts of electricity—about the same as one compact fluorescent light bulb.


For humid climates, an energy recovery ventilator provides all the benefits of an HRV plus humidity reduction. In addition to removing heat from the incoming air stream, the ERV also extracts water vapor. This is helpful in humid climates to prevent outdoor moisture from infiltrating the house. However, an ERV can only extract a limited amount of water vapor. In humid climates, a standalone dedicated humidifier will also be required to adequately control indoor humidity levels.

For more about the indoor air quality benefits of a heat recovery ventilator, contact Hartman Brothers Heating & Air Conditioning.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in New Haven, Indiana and surrounding Fort Wayne area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about HRVs and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 260-376-2961. 

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “geralt/Pixabay” 

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    Richard Hartman Richard Hartman has worked in many capacities: service, installations, and production of sheet metal since the early years of the business.... More »