New HVAC Products Meet Consumer Demand for Healthy Homes

Advanced fresh air systems improve indoor air quality and maintain comfort using the least possible energy.

Author: Dean Gamble

Over the last 20 years, the Energy Star Certified Homes program has worked with builders to construct more than 1.6 million better, more energy-efficient homes. Tried-and-true strategies like air sealing and increased insulation form the core of our program, but we’re always looking for emerging technologies that will raise the bar on efficiency.

Oftentimes, these emerging technologies provide the same functions using less energy. Other technologies, however, provide brand-new functions using the least amount of energy.

That’s the case with advanced fresh air systems. Not long ago, the only time you intentionally got fresh outdoor air into your home was when you opened a window. Unless you’re dedicated to doing that every day, that’s not a great approach. As a result, more than 15 states and many above-code programs now require fresh air systems in new homes. These systems follow a schedule to automatically turn on a fan that brings outdoor air into the home.

That’s a big improvement, but just the first step. Advanced fresh air systems are now emerging that do the same while better maintaining comfort, using the least possible energy.

To do this, two small fans are located next to each other. One fan pumps fresh air into the house and the second fan pumps about the same amount of stale air out of the house. As the air streams pass each other, energy is moved from one airstream to the other. For example, if it’s winter and the air inside your house is warm, then this heat gets transferred to the cold incoming air to heat it up. Pumping this heat from one airstream to the other is a lot more energy efficient than generating that heat from scratch. And it’s a lot more comfortable than pumping cold winter air into your home.

Other advanced fresh air systems go even further. They can remove humidity from moist incoming air; adjust airflow to ease installation and improve performance; as well as ventilate more during the most comfortable hours of the day and less during the hottest and coldest hours.

It seems like a no-brainer to give your buyers fresh, comfortable air in their homes. So, why is this just an emerging technology? A few reasons –lack of familiarity among consumers, builders, and trades; historically few products were designed for homes; and the price tag. However, all of these bottlenecks are rapidly changing.

This article was originally published by Builder on February 2, 2016.

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