Heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) save energy by recovering heat that would otherwise be exhausted as part of energy code-mandated mechanical ventilation systems. Residential HRVs can be life cycle cost effective depending on equipment/installation costs and the severity of the climate. This brief evaluates HRV cost effectiveness in the context of building energy codes to identify the climate zones in which a code might reasonably require residential HRVs.
At the primary first cost of $1,500, HRVs are cost effective in climate zones 7 and 8. At a lower cost (assuming minimal installation costs) of $500, HRVs are cost effective in zones 5, 6, 7, and 8.