One builder is going all-in with a new HVAC system in a bid to market comfort control, and homebuyers are responding in ways that other builders can learn from.
HVAC tech can be a tough sell for homebuyers who don’t understand the impact an efficient system can have on the home, but comfort control is an easy way to cut through the confusion. The Conditioned Energy Recovery Ventilator (CERV) is a unique HVAC product that monitors and manages indoor air quality (IAQ) in high-performance homes.
The CERV has unique healthy home benefits that set it apart from the HRVs and ERVs currently on the market. One of those features is maintaining high IAQ.
“Its main purpose in life is automatically maintaining excellent air quality in the home and it does that through monitoring carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs),” says CERV founder, Ty Newell.
The CERV is a balanced ventilation system that includes an integrated air-source heat pump.
Even though “energy recovery ventilator” is in its name, the CERV does not include an ERV or HRV core. Instead, the CERV uses the heat pump to transfer heat from one air stream to the other.
According to Newell, the homebuyer sets threshold levels of pollutants in the home depending on preference. Then, if either VOCs or carbon dioxide levels pass the threshold point, fresh air is expelled into the HVAC system to offset pollutants and improve IAQ.
Homebuyers can also monitor and manage the system online or through their smart home platform. Builders can use this to market the fully integrated smart home clients expect.
The CERV’s Healthy Home Impact
The hallmark of the healthy TecHome is the ability to offer tech that operates behind-the-scenes to adjust the home’s settings without heavy user interference.
After the homebuyer sets the pollutant and temperature thresholds, the CERV will operate automatically.
“When the home reaches the pollutant set point, the CERV goes into fresh air mode and is able to bring the air pollutants below the set-point level,” says Newell.
The rest of the time, the system is in recirculation mode, and in this mode it is circulating fresh air from unoccupied rooms into the occupied rooms that need it.
“With the CERV, you significantly reduce the concern of comfort issues, because the CERV is moving more air to those areas than a typical HRV, and it is heating that air,” says Peter Schneider, energy consultant at Vermont Energy Investment Corporation.
CERV vs. HRVs and ERVs
In new homes, HRVs or ERVs are considered a one and done solution, but when everyone is in the same room, pollutants and temperatures become elevated. This affects comfort levels.
The CERV helps to eliminate this rise in uncomfortable levels. It conditions the air in response to the home’s constantly changing levels. Instead of allocating energy resources to bring air into each room evenly, the CERV helps balance flow and comfort levels.
“The beauty of the CERV is that it is a demand-control ventilation device; it is not going to over ventilate or under ventilate. It will meet the requirements of the occupants and respond to the needs depending on what is happening in the house,” says Schneider.
Schneider also sees the integrated air-source heat pump as a significant benefit of the CERV for builders in colder climates. He says the heat pump does a good job in increasing comfort levels even in the cold Vermont climate by taking advantage of the heat that would otherwise be exhausted to the outside with a traditional exhaust-air heat pump.
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A Standard in High-Performance Homes
Vermont production builder, Vermod, was so impressed with the CERV’s range of features, the modular builder decided to include this new system as standard.
“I’ve been building efficient healthy homes that are also green for a while, but the CERV is different because it watches what we do to help us work better,” says Steve Davis, owner of Vermod.
RELATED: Smart HVAC: A Breath of Fresh Air
Davis says the emergence of health issues among homebuyers is one of the biggest factors that led to Vermod adopting the CERV as standard.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 7.4 percent of U.S. adults and 8.6 percent of children suffer from asthma. Offering an HVAC device that fills the home with conditioned air is an easy was to market to this group of people.
“Without a question, homebuyers are looking for energy-efficiency. They are looking to protect against energy-cost escalation and are looking to move away from fossil fuels,” says Schneider.
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