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Ventilation Systems

Heat Recovery Ventilators:

ventilation-systems.jpgThe importance of ventilation in today’s more energyefficient homes is universally recognized. Introduced as a requirement for airtight R-2000* homes, continuous ventilation systems are now common in new conventional housing and major home renovations. Because of the energy savings generated, the system of choice is often a heat recovery ventilator (HRV).

An HRV is a mechanical ventilation device that helps make your home healthier, cleaner and more comfortable by continuously replacing stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air. HRVs are set apart from other mechanical ventilation devices by their ability to exchange heat between the supply and exhaust air streams, which in turn reduces the cost of heating or cooling the healthy fresh air that circulates through the home. HRVs are sometimes called air-to-air heat exchangers because they preheat or cool incoming air using exhaust air.

What is an R-2000 home?

R-2000 homes are the most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly homes on the market today. Built, tested and certified to exacting technical standards, R-2000 homes use up to 50 percent less energy than conventional homes. They feature:

  • a tightly sealed building envelope to reduce drafts and heat loss
  • high levels of insulation
  • a whole-house ventilation system
  • advanced heating and cooling systems
  • energy-efficient windows and doors
  • energy-efficient appliances and lighting
  • reduced water consumption
  • the use of environmentally responsible building

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Components of Heat Recovery Ventilators(HRVs)

An HRV system generally consists of the following equipment:

  • insulated ducts for incoming (fresh) and outgoing (stale) air, along with exterior hoods
  • ductwork to distribute fresh air throughout the home and to return stale air to the HRV
  • fans to circulate air throughout the home and to exhaust stale air to the outdoors
  • a heat-exchange core, where heat is transferred from one air stream to the other
  • filters to keep dirt out of the heat-exchange core
  • a defrost mechanism (some units use a preheater) to prevent freezing and blocking of the heat-exchange core when the temperature of the incoming air is cold (not shown)
  • a drain to remove any condensation from inside the HRV (may not be required with all models)
  • operating controls to regulate the HRV according to ventilation needs.

During the heating season, an HRV recovers heat from the outgoing, stale household air and uses it to preheat incoming, fresh outdoor air. The HRV then distributes the incoming air throughout the house.

In the example shown in Figure 1, the flow of air in and out of the house takes place simultaneously (note: the path of the airflow may vary from one type of HRV to another). The two air streams are always kept separate within the HRV. Fresh outdoor air is filtered before it enters the HRV core, where a circulation fan distributes the air throughout the home via ductwork. A separate ductwork system draws the stale indoor air back to the HRV, where it is filtered and pushed by a fan through the heat-exchange core. Here, the stale air releases heat that is transferred to the fresh air being drawn into the house.

During the air-conditioning season, the HRV reverses this heat-exchange process, removing some of the heat from the incoming air and transferring it to the outgoing air (see the box on Energy Recovery Ventilators).

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ecoEnergy Retrofit Initiatives are here so Canadians can make the most of their home renovations. It is not only a smart idea to have expert advice before you start an energy renovation, achieving your ideal outcome depends on it!

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Our energy advisors are the best in the business. We use the latest Federal Government computer programs and implement the house as a system technology—it’s a winning combination!


As you make improvements to your home; you are cutting energy costs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. This saves you money and makes good sense for all Canadians.


Advisors will show you where your home is losing energy, how to improve the comfort of your home and cut heating and cooling costs while ensuring adequate ventilation for a healthy indoor environment for your family.

Did you know?

That cleaning or replacing a dirty air filter in your furnace or air conditioner can save almost 160 kg of CO2 a year?

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