A well-sealed tiny house keeps rain out, but it can also trap moisture inside—moisture from showers cooking, laundry and life in general. Some of these same activities suck oxygen from the home environment. In the summer, open windows are the simplest way to keep our indoor air refreshed. But come winter, it's nice to keep our double-paned windows snugly shut.
That's where our new energy recovery ventilator comes in. We'll get fresh air all winter, but it will be warmed a bit by the air going out. Since our house is only 250-square-feet, a single-room ventilator is plenty big. (It works up to 350-square feet). Here's what the company, VENTS-US, has to say about it:
"TwinFresh RA1-50-2 single room Energy Recovery Ventilator is designed for extract and supply ventilation with Energy Recovery mode. It is an efficient, healthy way of exchanging the polluted, stale air in your home with fresh outdoor air year round while reducing your heating and cooling bills. Whisper quiet operation, wall-through installation design, and various operation modes ensure convenience and comfort....[It also] decreases or increases indoor humidity levels to maintain a comfortable environment for you."
But don't be like us: Plan ahead and install ventilation during your initial construction, and you'll save a lot of headaches. We didn't do that. So we had to do some re-wiring and head scratching to remember where studs and wiring were in the walls. Also, know that your walls have to be a minimum of 4.5" thick.
Good news: The kit includes a good template, instructions and remote. And it really is "whisper quiet." I have to be listening for it to hear it.
Mixed news: The outside of the unit has a big profile. We minimized its appearance by spray painting it the same silver as our exterior wall. You'll also want to make sure you're not drawing external air from near a propane source or grill.
Make sure you do a test run on the ventilator before installation. Bill remembered to do this, and it saved us a lot of time and trouble. The electronics weren't functioning when he plugged in the first ventilator we bought, and we were able to swap the malfunctioning unit out for one that worked before installation.
P.S. Wood stoves can also suck oxygen out of your house. But not our Kimberly Wood Stove by Unforgettable Fire, which is designed with its own external air intake system. That's critical to look for in a wood stove. Also critical: a carbon monoxide detector to monitor air quality and a thermometer/hygrometer that tells us how much water vapor is in our air. Plus, we love our mini-dehumifier for those days (like wet, soggy today) when the ventilator alone can't get our humidity under 60 percent.