While insulating walls and sealing duct leaks can go a long way towards reducing energy costs, there's one place where your building is consistently wasting energy: the building's air ventilation system. However, installing an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) can help you recapture some of that lost energy to power your HVAC system. Here's what you need to know about this option.
How Energy Recovery Ventilators Work
To maintain the air quality and temperature in a building, the HVAC system frequently introduces outside air into the building and discharges indoor air outside. An ERV recaptures some of the discharged air that would normally be lost to the environment and uses it to precondition the incoming air. For instance, the machine would use some of the cool air being sent outdoor to chill and dehumidify the hot outdoor air being pulled inside before circulating it throughout the building.
This preconditioning reduces the effort your HVAC system must expend conditioning the air when it's inside the building. As a result, installing an ERV can result in an up to 80 percent reduction in energy demand by the air conditioner or furnace. An ERV can also make it easier to control humidity levels in the building, improve indoor air quality (and reduce employee absenteeism due to illness and allergies), and make it easier to meet green goals.
The Cost of Energy Recovery Ventilators
The average cost of an ERV is between $500 and $1,700 for the equipment, depending on the brand and size of the system. The price of installation will vary, but the general cost of a service call can land between $40 and $250 or more depending on how long it takes to connect the ERV to the building's HVAC system.
However, installing an ERV often means your HVAC system doesn't need to be as big as would normally be recommended for the size of your building. So, if you're in the process of replacing your HVAC system, you can save money by getting a smaller one and use that savings to fund the cost of an ERV.
It's important, though, to get the correct size ERV for your building to enjoy the benefits this system can provide. An HVAC contractor can help you determine the size you need. However, you can get a rough estimate by dividing the building's cubic volume (total square footage times average ceiling height) by 60 and multiplying the result by .35 to get the minimum cubic feet per minute (CFM) the system must be able to circulate.
For more information about energy recovery ventilators, contact an HVAC service.