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The A/C Guy of Tampa Bay Inc. Blog

What “Energy” Is an Energy Recovery Ventilator Recovering?


Fresh air—everybody wants it, but they don’t know how to get it when they need to have the windows and doors of their homes closed against the Florida heat and humidity. We know a great way you can have the fresh air you want without the heat and humidity problems. It’s an energy recovery ventilator, a nifty installation for your HVAC system that draws fresh air into the house and pre-cools it.

Energy recovery ventilators have a name people find a bit confusing. What “energy” is the ventilator recovering, and how is this helpful for fresh air? Answering questions like this is why we have a blog! So, it’s time for some science. (Light science, don’t worry!)

The Energy Used to Cool Your House

How do you cool your house during the summer? With an air conditioner, of course. What’s the energy source for the air conditioner? Electricity. That’s our starting point for this story. You pay money in electrical watts to run the air conditioner. I.e. you pay for the energy to remove heat from your house with the AC.

Now, what happens if you open the windows and doors on a 90°F day when the AC is running? The air conditioner will have to run and run and run to keep up with the outside heat that floods in. And that means energy is wasted.

Now we turn to the hero of our story, the energy recovery ventilator (ERV). The ERV is installed inside the ventilation system, and it draws a current of fresh outdoor air into it; at the same time, it draws in a current of the indoor air. The indoor air is cooled down: energy has already been used to remove the heat from it. It moves past the current of incoming fresh air—and the fresh air loses its heat to the cooler incoming air. The fresh air enters the home, cooled down. Or, to put it another way, the incoming air recovered the energy originally used to cool down the air inside.

(And, as a bonus, moisture moves between the two currents. The humid outdoor air loses moisture to the indoor air, meaning the house receives air that’s been dehumidified.)

It Works in Reverse as Well

An ERV can also recover the energy used to heat the air in a house during colder weather and apply it to incoming colder air. The process is exactly the same. This isn’t as important a job in our warm climate, but it’s still helpful—the ERV can work for you all months of the year.

There’s a similar device to an energy recovery ventilator called a heat recovery ventilator (HRV). These are almost never installed in Florida, however, since they’re designed to operate in colder temperatures, and they do not affect high humidity.

We’re the local St Petersburg, FL, HVAC contractor who can outfit your house with the right ERV system so you can enjoy fresh air all year without seeing your HVAC energy bills go skyrocketing. We’ll help recover that energy and put it to use!

Call The A/C Guy of Tampa Bay Inc. to schedule an estimate or service. We serve our Tampa Bay family with integrity and honor.

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