Understanding how ERVs work to control moisture while lowering heating bills
An energy recovery ventilator (ERV) helps reserve heat from air exiting the home and transfers it to air entering the home. While doing its work, the ERV tends to bring less humid air into the home, but it will not completely remove humidity from the house. An ERV by definition ventilates the home, which usually does the job of reducing humidity to less than 50 percent.
Problems Caused by Humidity in Homes
The moist climate here in the northwest makes it much easier for molds, mildew and fungi to grow. In susceptible individuals, this can cause serious illness. High moisture levels also contribute to the deterioration of building materials, aging your home faster than necessary. A hygrometer will tell you with certainty whether your home is too humid, but some signs may already be there:
- Condensation on double-paned windows
- Mold or mildew growth on walls, ceilings or items stored in closets
- Damp or moldy smells even when no visual signs of mold are present
These signs of excess moisture mean you could be compromising your health and the longevity of your home if you leave it untreated. An ERV can help.
How ERVs Work
An ERV is essentially a box that allows incoming and outgoing airstreams to exchange heat and humidity without touching. So, when dry heated air leaves your home in the winter, the warm air picks up some humidity from the incoming cold and damp air while warming it before it enters your home. As a result, you take in some humidity while heating air that is already warmer than outside air to begin with, using less energy.
The same goes in summer, but in reverse. The outgoing dry, cold air removes some heat from the incoming air while pickup up some of the moisture on its way out. So the air coming in is already a little cooler and drier than it would otherwise be. In the summer, the remaining humidity isn’t too big a deal, because the AC will remove that moisture as it cools the air.
Reduce Humidity While Saving Energy
For most homes, an ERV solves the problem of excess humidity by keeping air circulating. There are times when a ventilating dehumidifier is a better choice. It will likely depend on your comfort level. The ERV can only exchange so much moisture and those sensitive to humidity may prefer more precise control over humidity levels in the home.
A ventilating dehumidifier, however, constantly pulls moisture from the air while circulating fresh air into the home. Ventilating dehumidifiers are more common in tropical climates like Florida. But for those sensitive to moisture, it’s an option to consider. But for most Bellevue and Redmond residents, an ERV will keep humidity down to comfortable levels.
Ask MM Comfort Systems about Installing an ERV in Your Home
The experts at MM Comfort Systems can help you evaluate your humidity problem and decide on the best solution. Call us at 425.533.9058 to set up a free home humidity consultation, or use our online contact form.