IN BRIEF, HERE'S MY QUESTION:
Will getting an ERV air exchange vent system help eliminate cooking odors from my house and make a significant improvement in our IAQ from our current set up? How much will it help reduce our utility bills?
Thank you! Tom
We are currently under contract to purchase a new home in eastern Colorado. It is a ranch-style house with a finished basement, 10' and 9' ceilings, total 3200 Ft^2 or about 30,400 cubic feet. We will have a high-efficiency Lennox G61MVP with variable speed fan and a Honeywell F300E 20x25" electronic air cleaner. It has a pre-filter and optional carbon post-filter, which I will likely use. I think they are dry-walling the house now, making any major changes to the system now more difficult. http://hvac-talk.com/vbb/images/smilies/gah.gif
The house ventilation system is a Panasonic 80 CFM fan in the laundry room on the main floor. The fan will be set to run 20 min every hour (or 5% of the house air volume every hour). It is to be synced with a damper for passive inflow of outside fresh air into the return register duct.
In the new house there will be a kitchen stove hood with fan vented to the outside, which should help some (we do not have one at our current home that we are moving out of in a couple months). The main floor is a fairly open plan with no walls between the kitchen and the living area. There is a main return duct at the far end of the living/family area. There is a second return near the secondary bedrooms, and also in the basement. We have jumper ducts between the rooms on the main floor.
From all that I've read, ideally we would need about (0.15-0.3 x 30400)/60 = 76-152 CMF continuous ventilation. Per tech at Venmar, based on the # of rooms in the house it would be 140 CMF to "meet code" (whatever she meant by that).
To me, switching to ERV at somewhere in the range of 100-140 CMF would seem to be an ideal solution for the following reasons:
1) My wife is pregnant and very VERY sensitive to cooking and other odors (which may be a recurring condition if we are lucky). We (translation, I) basically have to open the windows in our current location at meal times for her not to barf from the cooking odors.
2) With a new baby soon, I want to minimize the hazards of off-gassing VOC's and improve IAQ
3) I just learned there is some data to suggest having good ventilation (fan, open windows) may reduce the incidence of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), but rather not have my wife opening and closing the windows all the time, plus the security risks.
4) Hope to retain some humidity in the house with the ERV (vs. HRV) as we are essentially in a desert environment.
5) Seems kind of a dumb concept to build a tight, energy-efficient house, then realize you can't breathe in it, so the solution is to poke a hole in it and let cold (hot) air in. genius http://hvac-talk.com/vbb/images/smilies/censored.gif
6) we live just outside an area with VOC's in the ground water. So really only a theoretical risk, but I would feel better about more ventilation in the home. We do have an active radon system under about 80% of the house then a conditioned crawlspace under the remain 20% (for whatever sense that design makes!).
7) Wife also has bad seasonal allergies and does better indoors with the A/C on for a good part of the year. Therefore, we can't always rely on open windows for ventilation. Also the neighbors are about 10' away (not a zero lot line property, but close) and I don't know how noisy they will be.
I just talked to 2 HVAC guys in our area and they both discouraged me from getting an ERV as a solution to the cooking odor problems. They tried to sell me on a rgf phi (photohydroionization) which I am against based on the EPA recs and a study that showed increases in formaldehyde with PHI use. Also tried to pitch me on the Trane clean effects, but I opted for the Honeywell as it was an available option with the house and seems to maintain it's efficiency better with dirt loading.
Sorry for the length, thank you very very much for you comments!