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Impacts of heat recovery ventilators on energy savings and indoor radon level

Keramatollah Akbari (School of Sustainable Development of Society and Technology, Mälardalen University, Västeras, Sweden and Technology Development Institute, ACECR, Tehran, Iran)
Robert Oman (Sustainable Development of Society and Technology, Mälardalen University, Västeras, Sweden)

Management of Environmental Quality

ISSN: 1477-7835

Article publication date: 2 August 2013




This paper aims to investigate the impact of heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) on the energy use and indoor radon in a one family detached house. Heat recovery ventilation systems, because of reducing ventilation loss through recovered exhaust air, can play a good role in the effectiveness of ventilation to reduce energy use. In addition HRVs can maintain pressure balance and outdoor ventilation rate at a required level to mitigate indoor radon level.


In this study, a multizone model of a detached house is developed in IDA Indoor Climate and Energy (IDA ICE 4.0). The model is validated using measurements regarding use of energy for heating, ventilation and whole energy use. The performance of the heat recovery ventilation system is examined with respect to radon mitigation and energy saving by measuring the radon concentration and analyzing the life cycle cost of a heat exchanger unit.


The results of the measurements and dynamic simulation showed that the heat recovery ventilation system could lead to 74 per cent energy savings of the ventilation loss, amounting to about 30 kWh m−2 per year. Life cycle cost analysis used for assessing total costs and the result showed that using this system is quite cost‐effective and investment would payback during 12 years.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations of this study generally refer to radon measurement and simulation because of radon complex behavior and its high fluctuations even during short periods of time.

Practical implications

Heat recovery ventilation systems with reducing radon concentration improve indoor air quality and decrease environmental problems with energy savings.

Social implications

Using balanced heat recovery ventilation can have benefits from the viewpoint of environmental impacts and household economy.


Employment of a heat recovery unit to control indoor radon level is a new usage of this technology which along with energy savings can improve sustainable development.



Akbari, K. and Oman, R. (2013), "Impacts of heat recovery ventilators on energy savings and indoor radon level", Management of Environmental Quality, Vol. 24 No. 5, pp. 682-694.



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