Heat Recovery Ventilation: What Is It?


A heat recovery ventilator is a simple device that keeps heat in while moving stale air out.  Typically, HRV systems utilize existing ductwork to bring clean, filtered, heated air into the house.  Condar's patented Replenum HRV system uses your fireplace and chimney to serve this function, heating fresh air with your fire rather than your furnace or heat pump. 


Ventilation And The Energy Efficient Home


Tightly built modern homes need ventilation more than ever before, and most HVAC systems are simply not up to the task.  Heat recovery ventilators were first introduced as a means to address this problem in the 1970's, when residential builders embraced the growing trend towards energy efficiency.  Windows and doors became tighter, insulation systems improved, and every crack that might allow air passage was caulked.  It was then that homeowners became aware of the important role those cold drafts played in the ecosystem of older houses.


Thermal efficiency and poor indoor air quality frequently go hand-in-hand.  Without fresh air, many houses suffer from excessive moisture and high gas levels, which can pose serious risks for both you and your home.  An open window may help reduce the effects of poor ventilation in the summer months, however, this can be a rather unappealing solution in the winter — particularly when the weather is cold enough to consider using your fireplace.  For this reason, indoor air quality typically declines in the winter months or in cold climates.  With a heat recovery ventilator, it is not necessary to sacrifice heat in order to provide adequate ventilation for your home.


A renewed emphasis on the health benefits of clean air has contributed to a surge in the popularity of heat recovery ventilators in recent years.  Canada now has a national ventilation law, and several American states are beginning to follow suit.  The American Lung Association has even weighed in, endorsing HRV technology as a means to avoid health problems due to poor indoor air quality.  Experts agree a good HRV system is an essential component of the healthy modern home.  This is why Condar's engineers thought it would be a good idea to incorporate HRV technology into the traditional fireplace, the very heart of many American homes, and frequently a prime source for heat loss and poor ventilation. 


Advancing HRV Technology Via The Traditional Fireplace


We believe the Condar Fireplace represents the next generation in heat recovery ventilation — a practical, energy efficient alternative to traditional heat recovery ventilators, with the capability of responding to the specific ventilation needs of the traditional wood-burning fireplace.  A 'smart' HRV system is a perfect counterpart for an open fireplace for two reasons:   

1.) Traditional fireplaces are notorious for losing more heat in the room than the fire produces.


2.) Fireplaces and other exhaust generators, if improperly ventilated, affect the balance of air within the house.  Negative air pressure creates the potential for smoke, gases, and pollutants to escape from the fireplace into your home. 

The Condar Fireplace effectively eliminates these concerns.  For the first time, you can enjoy the warm ambiance of a fire without sacrificing heat, indoor air quality, or energy.   


Heat Recovery:  The Condar Fireplace uses the heat energy generated by your fire to heat fresh outside air before delivering it to your home.  Instead of losing heat up the chimney, as with most open fireplaces, you only lose stale room air.  Although the net heat gain from your Condar Fireplace may be minimal, the ability to maintain a warm, draft-free room while enjoying a fire is a significant improvement over traditional fireplaces.


Improved Air Quality:  The greatest time of need for ventilation is when burning wood.  The Condar Fireplace responds to the changing ventilation needs of your fire automatically.  The chimney provides the ideal exhaust system for heat recovery ventilation, as stale room air is moved out by the natural draft created by your fire.  There is no decrease in room temperature, and you get fresh, filtered air delivered warm to your home.


Reduced Energy Consumption:  The Condar Fireplace maximizes the heat energy produced by burning wood — energy that is wasted in traditional open fireplaces.  As a result, your furnace no longer has to compensate for the heat loss from your fire.  Furthermore, the Condar Fireplace saves energy (and money) compared to other HRV systems.  By using your fire to heat the fresh makeup air, you avoid increasing the load on your heat pump.