ERVs Enhance Health of Homes
Homeowners demand fresh, clean air as an important part of their new home experience. Learn why including an ERV in your construction process can pay off.
There is a well established link between indoor air quality (IAQ) and occupant health. Volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), wildfire smoke, smog, allergens, viruses, mold and bacteria can all be found in both indoor and outdoor air and negatively impact human health. Daily activities, such as cooking, showering, cleaning, or even breathing, contribute to poor IAQ.
Several solutions exist for improving the IAQ of homes, and the federal government, municipal governments, and code bodies are starting to bolster these new concepts with code adjustments and mandates. The recent changes to building enclosure technologies emphasize the importance for builders to include systems in their homes that allow homeowners to control fresh air exchange and air filtration systems.
Tighter homes are more energy efficient, but without proper ventilation, particulate-laden air can become stale and unhealthy.
Tightly built homes that use exhaust only fans have the potential to create negative pressure in a house. Products like energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) provide fresh, filtered air into the home while removing stale air for continuously healthy indoor air. Credit Panasonic
ERV or HRV? Which is Best?
Previously, it was suggested that heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) were best used in colder climates. However, according to the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC), this paradigm is changing.
An ERV exchanges stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air while recovering the heat and moisture for increased energy efficiency and lower demand on heating and cooling systems. However, HRVs only recover the heat and can end up drying out the indoor air.
As technology advances for the ERV core, efficiency, performance and air quality are all improving in a short amount of time.
The Perfect Duo: Heat Pumps and ERVs
Over the past years, as technology has readily progressed, heat pump technology has gained traction as an efficient alternative to heating and cooling homes.
Instead of a gas or oil burning furnace, heat pumps run on electricity and avoid the harmful byproducts of combustion. They use refrigerant to move outdoor heat energy indoors to keep the structure warm in the winter. In the summer, the system reverses and provides cool air by removing indoor heat and releasing it outside.
However, these systems do not manage moisture levels, and ductless systems do not bring in fresh air. Therefore, an ERV system perfectly complements the heat pump technology – keeping energy use and environmental impact low while maximizing air quality and comfort.
Similarly, with HVAC systems, an ERV will run even when heating or cooling isn’t necessary. So, when the HVAC system is off, the ERV continuously works to ventilate and replace stale air and temper moisture for full-time control of IAQ and improved homeowner health. It also has the potential to diminish the need for energy-guzzling humidifiers.
Times–and Codes–Are Changing
Washington State, Minnesota and New York City now have codes that make including a balanced ventilation system mandatory in new builds, with many states and cities expected to follow suit.
Systems like ERVs are becoming a requirement for single-family homes. As previously mentioned, the tighter and more energy efficient building envelopes of today’s residential new construction has raised concerns about trapping stale air inside.
According to the EPA, studies indicate that “indoor levels of pollutants may be two to five times – and sometimes more than 100 times– higher than outdoor levels.” So, as homes built today are void of cracks and holes, it is important to include mechanical systems to bring in filtered outdoor air.
Value of a Healthy Home
According to a COGNITION Smart Data survey, living in a healthy home is now a top priority for nearly 80% of homebuyers. In fact, a healthy home was identified as the top purchase driver when making home buying decisions.
Therefore, homebuyers see more value in properties with features like an ERV. And, with the falling costs of ERVs, the added capabilities are becoming worthwhile for builders to include in homes.
Panasonic believes air quality should be predictable and uneventful. So, the company designed single-family ERVs, the Intelli-Balance 100 and 200, for that purpose. The ERVs are engineered for use in any North American Climate Zone and feature two ECM brushless motors with Smart Flow technology to ensure optimum airflow by overcoming static pressure.
The ERVs are also easy to install–they can be ceiling or wall-mounted and don't require connection to the central HVAC. Additionally, unlike an HRV, the Intelli-Balance functions without the need for a condensation line, meaning it can be installed in various places throughout the home.
The multi-speed selector (50-100 CFM for Intelli-Balance 100 and 60-200 CFM for Intelli-Balance 200) and adjustable minutes-per-hour timer allow homeowners to tailor the ERV to an optimized balance between energy efficiency and ventilation needs. This gives scalable air flow control relative to property size and ensures compliance with ASHRAE 62.2 air change standards.
Indoor and outdoor air pass through Panasonic’s patented capillary core designed to transfer heat and moisture. The core is also permeated with an anti-mold treatment to help prevent mold in the home.
Additionally, when incorporating Swidget smart controls in the home, occupants can manage air quality with a control switch and inserts. Homeowners can also control the Intelli-Balance through the app, including boost mode, based on external data such as outdoor air quality, temperature, humidity or even time of day.
Panasonic recommends using the combination of a Swidget 20/40/60 control switch with a Temperature, Humidity and Motion Sensor Insert.
Don’t pass up the opportunity to include an ERV in your homes for added return on investment and homeowner trust. To learn more about Panasonic’s other innovative IAQ solutions, visit the company’s ventilation and indoor air quality website.