Heat Exchangers: Balancing Your Home’s Heat & Air Quality

Heat Exchangers: Balancing Your Home’s Heat & Air Quality

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When you’re making an attempt to reside extra sustainably, you might be typically confronted with trade-offs. The clothes washer that makes use of the least water makes use of extra electrical energy; your outdated automotive burns fossil fuels however electric vehicles use poisonous batteries; giant refrigerators function extra effectively however encourage food waste. It’s laborious to seek out the steadiness level between two decisions. Fortunately, warmth exchangers keep the steadiness between vitality effectivity and indoor air high quality (IAQ).

Competing Values

It might sound counterintuitive to make use of a machine to convey recent air into your home when you’ll be able to open a window. But when temperatures are low (or very excessive), holding a house sealed up is essential for sustaining comfortable temperatures. Older houses let air seep out by means of the partitions, attics, chimneys, and windows, however the air that changed it needed to be heated. Even in fashionable houses, heating and cooling current practically a fifth of American’s carbon footprint. But the insulation and different methods that make your house energy efficient additionally entice air and moisture inside the house.

Some insulation contributes directly to indoor air air pollution, however normally, insulation simply retains pollution from escaping. The only means to enhance indoor air quality is to scale back or eliminate individual sources of air pollution. But for indoor pollution that you may’t management, it’s essential to convey recent air into the home. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) units the standard for residential air flow at a minimal of .35 air adjustments per hour and never lower than 15 cubic ft per minute (cfm) per particular person. Even a drafty home might fall under the air flow commonplace underneath sure circumstances.

What Are Heat Exchangers?

Different from a furnace heat exchanger, air-to-air warmth exchangers are easy gadgets that preserve warmth in your house whereas transferring stale air out of it, permitting you to maintain your vitality effectivity and your indoor air high quality, too. Attached to your current HVAC system, an air-to-air warmth exchanger brings two air streams of various temperatures into thermal contact in order that heat is transferred from the outgoing inside air to the incoming outdoors air as a part of your house’s current mechanical air flow system. Heat exchangers can recuperate up to 85% of the heat within the outgoing air and so they filter particulates from the incoming air.

Diagram of typical features of an air-to-air heat exchanger.
Typical options of an air-to-air warmth exchanger. Image source

Most air-to-air exchangers put in in northern climates are warmth restoration ventilators (HRVs). These items recuperate warmth from indoor air as it’s flushed out of the constructing. Energy restoration ventilators (ERVs) are warmth exchangers that additionally switch moisture. Historically, they labored finest in hotter climates with greater humidity. Recent advances in expertise have made them helpful for a broader vary of climates.

Heat Exchanger or Heat Pump?

Heat exchangers merely enhance air flow. Air source heat pumps truly warmth and funky your house. They can exchange your house’s heating and cooling programs; they’ll warmth particular zones within the house, or they’ll work in tandem together with your current heating system. Homeowners generally add them to current HVAC programs, utilizing the fuel-burning furnace as a backup throughout extra excessive climate.

Using two heat exchangers (one on the skin of the unit and one on the inside), an air supply warmth pump transfers warmth quite than combusting gasoline. Heat pumps can ship as much as three times more BTUs than they devour, whereas probably the most environment friendly fuel boiler can not fairly produce as a lot warmth vitality because it consumes. Early variations of the expertise had some issues. But current advances have improved their reliability and expanded the climatic vary of their usefulness. Although it’s laborious to think about drawing warmth from outside winter air, new warmth pumps can warmth houses more efficiently than oil, even within the Northeast U.S.

Do You Need One?

You in all probability already know if your house wants insulation. Your heating invoice can be excessive, and your home will really feel drafty. A home energy audit will allow you to prioritize your upgrades. Once you could have sufficiently sealed your house, a warmth exchanger will assist keep indoor air high quality.

It is just not at all times instantly apparent if your home has poor air flow. Most indoor air pollution don’t produce odors. But in tight houses, window condensation and different moisture issues, like mold, are normally probably the most noticeable indicators of poor air flow. If your house was constructed after the year 2000, it’s in all probability tightly sealed sufficient that you simply want a warmth exchanger for enough air flow.

Unless you could have an environment friendly, new house heating system, contemplate changing your furnace with a warmth pump as a substitute of including a warmth exchanger for air flow. And should you reside in a sizzling local weather, a warmth pump is at all times a good suggestion, as a result of any methodology that keeps you cool is environmentally higher than utilizing an air conditioner.