Energy Recovery is about energy sustainability or transfer rather than energy creation.


Many energy consuming systems today, including HVAC systems, either convert one form of energy to another or transfer energy from one system to another. In an HVAC system, electricity is converted into a cooled air flow from the condenser and fan. In a vapor compression cycle on a typical HVAC unit, the condenser’s heat is rejected into the atmosphere and away from the air stream. This rejected heat could be used in many applications that already require energy-to-heat generation including de-humidification/desiccant systems or water heaters and swimming pools.


With building envelopes becoming increasingly tighter, building codes for fresh, outdoor air will continue to increase. Having to bring in outside fresh air can have a negative effect on energy efficiency because the outdoor air could be much cooler or warmer than what is typically comfortable in a building. To solve this, energy recovery ventilation acts as an air-to-air heat exchanger by taking fresh, outside air and passing it indirectly through the stale, yet conditioned air that is being rejected. After having passed through this ventilation system, the new fresh air is closer in temperature to the indoor air. Since the new air’s temperature is close to what the indoor set-point temperature already is, the HVAC unit will not have to waste energy heating or cooling this new, fresh air.


WCEC wants to test energy recovery devices including energy recovery ventilation systems and answer these questions:

  • How well does a typical energy recovery ventilation system perform? How long does it last? What type of maintenance would it need?
  • What other applications could waste heat be used in?


WCEC will be evaluating energy recovery systems in the future and monitor their performance.