The perfect indoor temperature can be quite difficult to achieve and maintain, even with multiple air control appliances. What you need to enhance the performance of such appliances is a perfect balance between indoor and outdoor air at all times.
The need for that balance, coupled with the sealed nature of modern homes, makes it very important to use air exchangers. What they do is to replace indoor air by allowing fresh outdoor air into a room or building.
This process also ensures the transfer of heat between incoming and outgoing air and can reduce humidity (where necessary) in a bid to reduce the amount of energy required to maintain the preferred indoor temperature.
But, while trying to manage energy consumption by using an air exchanger, does the air exchanger itself not amount to running cost? How much exactly does it cost to run an air exchanger?
Are Air Exchangers Expensive to Run?
The simple answer is No. Air exchangers generally are not expensive to run.
Although they’ll cost you quite a lot to purchase and install, especially depending on the type of HVAC system you have, and whether or not the air exchanger will be a standalone unit or connected to your ductwork.
Nonetheless, they do not consume a lot of electricity and are pretty low on maintenance because they’re primarily made of fans. These fans are designed uniquely to direct air in and out but, like all fans, they do not consume a lot of electricity.
Maintenance is also not expensive to carry out. As a routine, you’re expected to clean the reusable fan and core of the exchanger and that is something you can do on your own.
Typically, an air exchanger filter is reusable and should only be replaced where cracks or damages are observed. The only huge cost you should be willing to bear is the initial cost of purchase and installment, which may go as high as $3,000 or more for a good product.
However, that seemingly lump sum will be recovered through reduced energy charges over time.
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How Often Should You Run an Air Exchanger?
You should run your air exchanger as often as you need to. Typically, you should run it every day with a 1-hour break after every 12 hours.
You should also ensure you clean the filter and core at least once every 3 months. This must be done with the unit turned off.
Be sure the unit is properly cleaned before you turn it back on; otherwise, you may have loose dust particles released into your building the first few seconds of turning it back on.
How Much Does It Cost to Run an Air Exchanger?
To calculate an air exchanger running cost, you must take into account the type of building, number of rooms, floor area, as well as electricity and fuel rates in your local area.
The infiltration rate of the building or area is another very important factor to consider. For the sake of this post, let’s use the following data;
Number of bedrooms: 4
Floor area: 1,800 sq. ft
Infiltration rate: 0.2 air exchanges per hour (ACH), which means it’ll take 5 hours to achieve a complete air exchange in the building.
Cost of electricity per kWh: $0.13
Cost of fuel per gallon: $3.85
Several other unknown factors like indoor activities or hobbies that may affect air quality cannot be taken into account here because they’re not constant.
To arrive at cost of electricity for a given 70-watt air exchanger used for 4,000 hours per year, you’d need to convert the consumption rate to kilowatt;
70 ÷ 1,000 = 0.07 kWh
Therefore; 0.07 x 4,000 per year x $0.13
280 x 0.13 = $36.4 per year
For those that use petrol, you’d need to determine the BTU of the unit and how many BTU there are per gallon. Then calculate how much BTUs is used in a year and divide it by the number of BTU per gallon.
This will give you the number of gallons required per year. Multiply this by the cost per gallon and you’ll get your cost.
Another important cost element maybe your filter. Some air exchanger filters are reusable and some of them may go on to last the entire lifetime of the unit.
But if you fail to clean and maintain it as frequently as you should, rust and wear may set in and your filter may get damaged. However, there are typical air exchanger filters that must be replaced at least once every 3 months for best results.
Typically, you’ll get a replacement filter for between $80 and $150, depending on the brand and size. A good example is the Home Revolution Replacement Filter.
How Can You Reduce the Power Consumption of Air Exchangers?
The air exchanger itself is a power-saving appliance. However, there are ways you can further reduce the power consumption of your unit. We’ll consider a few options;
1. Look for energy-star units
Energy Star air exchangers usually have an efficiency rate of 30%-70% more than regular units. This means that, if a regular unit costs around $10 yearly on electricity charges, an energy-star unit will cost between $3 to $7.
2. Clean regularly
Cleaning at least once every 3 months is another way to keep your unit running efficiently. Having too much dirt clogging the unit will cause it to run more aggressively than it normally should, which attracts more power.
3. Have rest intervals
Although running your air exchanger continuously is recommended for best results, even a 2-hour daily rest time will not just give the parts and components time to heal and reenergize, but will also save a few bucks over time.
4. Use natural ventilation techniques
Depending on the temperature, weather, and indoor/outdoor relative air quality, it’ll make a lot of sense occasionally to turn OFF your unit and open your windows for natural ventilation. This also gives your unit rest time and saves some energy.
As you’ve seen, it will cost you something to run your air exchanger but not so much as to discourage you. Even if you replace your filter at least once every year, you won’t spend more than $200 per year on maintenance.
When you consider how much the device will save you on heating or air conditioning bills, you’ll realize it is a worthy bargain. If you’re yet to get one, this is the time to make that move.