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The Relationship Between Airtight Homes and Ventilation

Posted on June 11, 2013

Modern homes tend to be much more airtight than homes in the past. We find drafts and seal them up, and we install insulated windows and doors to save heating and cooling costs. But this creates a problem: we still need fresh air, and we need to vent stale interior air to the outside. In spring and fall, when the exterior and interior temperatures are similar, this is simple. But in our extreme Kansas summers and winters, we’ve already spent money cooling or heating our interior air. Venting it to the outside and bringing in untreated exterior air wastes precious utility dollars. Fortunately, there are solutions for reconciling airtight homes and ventilation problems.

HVAC experts have designed just the right solution for homes in climates like ours: heat recovery ventilators (HRV) and energy recovery ventilators (ERV).

HRV: In cold weather, a heat recovery ventilator uses a heat exchanger and fans to transfer heat from the interior air to the incoming cold outdoor air. In summer, it transfers the heat from the incoming air to the exhaust side.

ERV: An ERV functions much like an HRV, but it also transfers humidity along with the heat energy. This can keep the interior humidity levels in the home more consistent and comfortable – a boon in our dry winters and sticky summers.

Ideal for airtight homes and ventilation issues, both types of systems can be installed as wall-mounted units, but more often they are whole-house systems, which require ductwork. These systems recover up to about 80 percent of the energy you’ve already paid for to make your home comfortable, and they’re especially cost-effective in cold winter/hot summer climates like ours. They require specialized installation by a skilled contractor, but homeowners recoup their initial investment in energy savings and increased home comfort levels.

Call us at Comfort Systems today to talk about your home comfort and whether adding an ERV or HRV is right for your home. We’ve been providing Wichita area homeowners with customized HVAC solutions since 1996.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Wichita, Kansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about home ventilation and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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