As reported by Strutt and Parker in summer 2013, good schools, a garden and reliable transport links are no longer enough to satisfy modern homebuyers. We want more, and ‘more’ covers all sorts of things from marble floors and smart flooring to greener heating, intelligent ventilation systems and integral energy saving gadgetry.

At the same time Aviva reported how more and more of us are being seriously tempted by ‘grand’ interior design. And the Daily Mail recently reported at some length on the sale of former England cricketer Graeme Swann’s beautiful eco-friendly home, heated via an air source heat pump and featuring solar reactive double glazing.

Energy saving is in the news, and it is being given a higher priority by homeowners. This is the age of the high spec building… but high spec means much more than mere appearances. Yes, we want our homes to look beautiful. But we also want them to be economical, keep us healthy, save energy and make the most of natural must-haves like fresh air. In Strutt and Parkers’ words:

“We are seeing a clear trend towards house buyers requesting ultra-modern fixtures and fittings. Under floor heating, in-built control systems and high spec interiors are a must for some buyers, with less people wishing to carry out the work themselves.”

Creating a MHVR system for your client’s new high spec home

So what are your main considerations, as an architect, when dreaming up your next high specification house? Obviously you want to make a perfect cosmetic job of the interior. But what about the bare ones heating basics? One of the top considerations is heating and cooling, and ventilation and heat recovery systems are becoming more and more popular with people who want a fully-fledged greener home, especially those who want to avoid sick house syndrome and ensure a good flow of fresh air through the building.

Commercial MHVR systems set the stage

Commercial heat recovery systems have been around for some time and as the world slowly but surely goes greener and fuel costs rocket, it has become absolutely critical in manufacturing. The UK’s Climate Change Levy plays a large part in encouraging industry to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and has driven business to start paying specific attention to saving energy.

Industrial processes use large quantities of fuel and electricity and ultimately produce a great deal of heat , much of which used to be wasted. But MVHR systems have been saving as much as 80% in manufacturing situations for some time. And now the price of energy has soared so high, mechanical heat recovery systems are economically viable in domestic situations for the first time. The tipping point has obviously been reached, and companies like us are increasingly busy fulfilling domestic demand.

Questions about MVHR performance?

You may have come across reports about the technology’s performance not being up to scratch. The technology works just fine… as long as it’s specified, designed and installed properly.

Here are the main findings of the NHBC Foundation report, Assessment of MVHR systems and air quality in zero carbon homes:

It is critical that the overall ventilation strategy is taken into consideration during the design stage when MVHR systems are intended to be used in homes

During the procurement process it is important to seek technical input from the supplier and installer of systems
Systems should be installed by trained and experienced ventilation system installers
Commissioning of systems must be fit for purpose

Factors likely to adversely affect the power consumption by MVHR fan units during operation must be considered

Factors likely to adversely affect the thermal performance of MVHR systems in operation must be considered

Successful measures may be taken to increase the performance of MVHR systems and to reduce noise levels associated with their operation. However, the research also found that occupants were mainly positive about comfort levels in their homes, with levels of satisfaction tending to increase as the homes and their MVHR systems became more familiar.

Whatever you do, don’t let any old heating engineer loose on MVHR. To make the most of the technology you need to factor MVHR in at the earliest possible stage, since it can be very challenging to retro-fit.

Like so much in life, MVHR systems are simple enough as long as you know what you’re talking about. If you’ve never met one before, they can seem dauntingly technical. You need a supplier who has the experience and confidence required to specify a hard-working MVHR system that’s perfect for the new build in question, deliver all the bits and install it – or any or all of the above. You need flexibility. And we’re wholly flexible.

Want advice about MVHR?

Get in touch. We’re MVHR experts and we’ll be pleased to help.