As of January 1, 2017, the Ontario Building Code (OBC)  SB-12 has been revised to require heat recovery ventilation or ventilators (HRV) in all new homes.

Even if your home is older, HRVs will really improve the air quality.

Why is HRV Required in Ontario Building Code?

You see, modern homes are insulated as much as possible. But that also makes them airtight - and that means you're breathing the same stale air over and over again. It also means that indoor air pollutants just keep on accumulating.

The problem is so bad that the EPA says that indoor air is often two to five times more polluted than outdoor air -- even in big cities like Toronto. In North America, where the average person spends about 90% of our time indoors, that's a serious problem, and as the EPA stated, it can lead to serious health issues.

HRVs are mandatory in new homes for good reason. If you're considering one for your home, read on to learn more about what they are and how they help.

What is an HRV Unit?

HRV, or heat recovery ventilation, is a technology that has been used for the last 40 years to provide high quality indoor air into houses.

Sure, you might be thinking, I can do that. I just need to open a window.

The problem with opening a window in fall, winter, and summer is that you also let out all the heat or AC-cooled air you paid so much for.

The neat thing about an HRV is that it transfers the warmth (or coolness) from the outgoing air to the fresh air coming in. In fact, many new HRVs are so efficient that you lose less than 7% of the heat.

HRV at a Glance

HRVs provide:

  1. Fresh air into your house, while remove stale, polluted air.
  2. Filtration of incoming air, so you get the freshness but leave pollen and pollutants outside where they belong.
  3. Almost total recovery of heat from the outgoing air.
  4. A special kind -- ERVs -- also provide a better moisture balance that helps keep mold in check is humid homes, or helps humidify dry ones. 

Basically, HRV gives you the effect of an open window without opening one.

When is HRV Required?

While mandatory in new home builds, they're a good idea for almost any home, especially if the insulation and window quality has been improved.

In short, if you can't feel a draft, it's very likely an HRV will make a dramatic improvement in the quality of the air you're breathing in every day.

HRV Code - What Qualifies?

Both heat recovery ventilation (HRV) and energy recovery ventilation (ERV) are acceptable. The minimum efficiency of an HRV cannot be less than 55% for some types of homes, but for others it is required to be 75% or better. If you're buying a new home, it pays to check what your builder is installing. At Husky, we don't sell HRV units at less than 72% - below that, we feel they add too much to your heating bill.

Better Air - And Beyond

There are lots of other benefits of heat recovery ventilation, aside from better air quality:

  1. Extra security (windows are kept closed).
  2. Less outside noise in your home than if windows are open.
  3. Better quality sleep.

Husky can advise you on what type of HRV system is right for your home.