Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) in Cold Climates

Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) exchange stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air, recovering heat and moisture from the exhaust air and transferring it to supply air. Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs), on the other hand, only recover heat from exhaust air and thus dry out the indoor air. In a cold dry climate like Interior Alaska, ERVs could help improve indoor air quality by adding moisture to the air.

Part 1

An initial study looked at eight different ERVs in Fairbanks over one winter to see whether they were more likely to freeze up by handling moisture in the core. None of them froze, suggesting ERVs could be a good option for improving air quality in Interior Alaska.
Part 1 - Full report

Part 2

A followup project compared ERV to HRV performance. The ERVs improved humidity levels in the buildings and resisted freezing better than HRVs.
Part 2 - Full report

Projects

BrHEAThe Evaluation In an effort to address these issues CCHRC developed the BrHEAThe system in 2011. BrHEAThe is a combined heating and ventilation system which uses one distribution system to provide fresh air and space heating to high-performance homes in cold climates.
Designs for Rural Alaska Walls Monitoring CCHRC demonstration homes for efficiency and moisture infiltration several years after construction.
Structural Insulated Panels Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) are prefabricated building materials used in residential construction in Alaska. This project prepared resources for homeowners who want to learn about SIPs, where they are used in cold climates, and considerations for Alaska.
Safe Effective Affordable Retrofits Testing a new batch of wall systems that can provide affordable retrofit options.
Thermal Mass Study Thermal mass is the ability of a material to absorb and store heat energy, which can be useful when it comes to cold climate housing. This project clarifies the role of thermal mass in housing and includes a literature review and energy modeling with IDA Indoor Climate and Energy (ICE) software.