Last week, the Eco Achievers team took a trip to visit our friends at RenewAire in Madison, WI, to learn about their work with air-to-air heat exchangers, or energy recovery ventilators (ERVs). Regional Sales Manager, Doug Kirchner, met us at the door of their LEED-Silver manufacturing building on Friday, and was very excited to show us around and explain to us all about their systems, as well as their unique committment to sustainability.
The trip was highly anticipated because ERVs do a great (and efficient!) job of improving indoor air quality. In a world where we spend 90% of our time indoors, and indoor air pollution is even higher than it is outside, indoor pollution control is more important than ever. ERVs, like those at RenewAire, provide occupants with fresh, clean air, while at the same time, lower the building's energy usage and utility costs.
In this photo, Doug explains the components of an ERV and what sets RenewAire apart. RenewAire systems are low maintenance, have a long life-expectancy, and come with a great warranty. In addition, the air filter that's inside is a simple MERV-8, which can easily be replaced at your local hardware store. The RenewAire systems are also one of the only ERVs that can be mounted in any orientation and that don't require a condensation line.
Another nifty feature from RenewAire is the ERV Annual Savings Calculator on their website. Just input some information about your property, and find out your annual savings!
So What is an ERV?
An ERV is the lungs of a high-performance home – a ventilation system that brings equal amounts of healthy, fresh air into a building while exhausting the same amount of stale air out. While this exchange could simply be done with fans, an ERV captures the warm, humidified air (or cool, dehumidified air) in separate ducts as the heat and moisture transfer takes place. This separation ensures that the fresh air coming in has not been contaminated.
When paired with a building's mechanical system, an ERV also greatly reduces the amount of energy needed to reach desired indoor air temperatures. The following are additional benefits and qualities of a good ERV system:
- Moderate extremes of temperatures and humidity
- No condensation pan or drain
- No defrost issues in most climates and applications
- The colder the climate, the more energy is recovered
- Reduced costs to homeowners and building management on heating and cooling. The return on investment of an ERV can range anywhere between 1-3 years.
- Low pressure drop
- High heat transfer
- Being durable and structurally sound
- Having positive air stream separation
(meaning no cross-contamination)
- Not supportive of biological growth
- Is readily available
- Competitively priced
We ended the tour with residential ventilation specialist, Duane Amundson, who talked about some of his experiences installing units and working with new customers.
It was an informative, educational day, and a bonafide highlight to the Madison area. If you're in the market to upgrade your home, have questions about if ERVs, or are just plain curious, give RenewAire a call! For pricing in the Chicagoland market, contact Evolutionary Supply & Solutions.