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What Is MVHR?

An example of a building where MVHR could be used

Rising insulation and air tightness standards are making modern homes and properties increasingly comfortable, but at a cost - the quality of indoor air is compromised. However, there is a solution: MVHR.

As buildings limit the flow of fresh air by becoming more air-tight, the need for ventilation becomes pressing. Although opening windows may seem like a quick fix, it's not always the most efficient or healthy solution. That's where MVHR comes in - a cutting-edge technology that enhances energy efficiency and provides superior air quality. But, what exactly is MVHR?

How Do MVHR Systems Work?

First, what does MVHR stand for? Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery is a system that provides ventilation to your home or other property. It operates by extracting stale, humid, and polluted air from the inside and replacing it with fresh and filtered air.

MVHR systems also incorporate a heat exchanger. Heat exchangers transfer heat energy from the extracted air to the incoming fresh air resulting in a more energy-efficient property.

With MVHR, you can enjoy a comfortable indoor environment year-round. Free from issues such as condensation and mould, while improving indoor air quality. It's a practical solution to the challenge of balancing energy efficiency and air quality in modern, airtight buildings.

A diagram showing how MVHR works
A diagram showing how an MVHR unit works

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Does MVHR Comply With the UK’s Government Building Regulations?

Ensure your property meets building regulations for ventilation with the advanced technology of Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery, or MVHR. Whether building from scratch or retrofitting an existing property, compliance with regulations is essential.

Building Regulations Part F covers the installation, inspection, testing, commissioning, and provision of information for fixed ventilation systems in your property. Fortunately, Approved Document F (Part F) provides clear guidance on how to comply with these regulations accurately.

According to Part F, adequate ventilation is crucial to prevent excess condensation build-up that can damage the structure of your property. It also ensures proper airflow, which helps maintain optimal indoor air quality in every room of your home.

Read more about the detrimental effects of condensation in our article What Causes Condensation?

MVHR is a key method of ventilation listed in Part F, specifically for wet rooms such as kitchens, bathrooms, and utility rooms. It provides fresh, filtered, and clean air while extracting stale and moist air in an energy-efficient manner. Best of all, with an MVHR system, there is no need for trickle vents or background ventilation, giving you peace of mind and cost savings.

MVHR is highly efficient at filtering incoming air, and with inline filters, you can rest assured that outdoor particulates like pollen will not come into your home.

Read more on this topic in our Article Does MVHR Alleviate Hayfever Symptoms?

By incorporating MVHR into your property, you can rest easy knowing that your home is not only compliant with building regulations but also equipped with cutting-edge technology that enhances your living experience.

A Diagram showing the concept of an MVHR installation
The layout of a basic MVHR install

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Why Choose MVHR?

As homeowners increasingly adopt energy-efficient measures like insulation, draught-proofing, and double-glazing, their homes become more airtight, resulting in a lack of natural ventilation. This means that moisture from daily activities such as cooking, cleaning, and breathing can build up with no way to escape.

The accumulated moisture can then settle on cold surfaces such as windows and external walls, causing condensation, dampness, mould growth, and poor indoor air quality (IAQ), which can even lead to property damage.

However, MVHR units offer a practical solution to these issues. MVHR units provide a practical solution to the issues caused by airtight homes. Unlike traditional ventilation systems, they operate continuously and remove excess moisture, reducing the risk of structural and cosmetic damage from mould and condensation.

Additionally, they recover a significant amount of heat energy that would otherwise be lost through a heat exchanger, making them a more energy-efficient option for improving IAQ and reducing associated costs.

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MVHR systems offer several advantages over background ventilation systems, such as consistent ventilation that isn't affected by factors like wind speed, obstructions, or temperature changes. This ensures that indoor air quality is optimal, unlike background ventilation systems which can be inconsistent.

Moreover, MVHR is suitable for properties with varying levels of airtightness, according to Part F of the building regulations. However, older, leakier properties may not benefit as much from MVHR's capabilities.

To ensure that airtightness levels are appropriate for your new build or retrofit project, it's advisable to consult with an architect or consultant before commencing the project. With MVHR, you can enjoy peace of mind, knowing that your property is protected against moisture damage, mould growth, and poor IAQ, while also being energy-efficient and comfortable.

Read more on this in our article Why Do I Need MVHR?

A person opening a trickle vent
Is your trickle vent open?

Additional Benefits

Opening windows may not always be practical or desirable for ventilation and indoor air quality, especially in noisy or polluted areas. To address these challenges, MVHR systems offer a solution that can reduce noise, filter incoming air, lower humidity levels, and prevent pest intrusion.

If you live in a noisy area, you may not be able to open your windows due to the noise levels. In such cases, MVHR systems with silencers can provide a practical solution by allowing for ventilation without compromising noise reduction.

In areas with poor air quality, opening windows may not be ideal for ventilation. MVHR systems can filter incoming air, removing pollutants and providing a constant flow of fresh, clean air.

MVHR systems also help to reduce humidity levels in the property. When the outside air is colder than the inside air, the system can actively dehumidify, removing excess moisture and reducing the risk of dampness and mould growth.

In areas with high levels of small insects, opening windows can lead to unwanted pests entering the property. MVHR systems with tightly fitted filters can prevent pest intrusion while providing proper ventilation.

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Sustainability and MVHR

Moreover, MVHR systems are a sustainable solution for improving indoor air quality and reducing energy consumption. By recycling heat energy that would otherwise be lost, MVHR can significantly lower heating costs and associated carbon emissions. In addition, using a ventilation system reduces the need for opening windows, which can result in energy loss and higher heating or cooling costs. MVHR is an environmentally responsible choice for modern homes and buildings, providing energy-efficient design and sustainable benefits.

Read more on this topic in our article Is MVHR Sustainable?


As with everything, there are some disadvantages to an MVHR system, some of which are:

Such a system can have a high upfront cost to install, though this is somewhat offset by a reduction in heating bills in the long run.

MVHR systems rely on ducting, and as such may be difficult to hide in a retrofit or a new build with limited space.

Heat recovery systems also need maintenance, though this primarily consists of cleaning filters and heat exchangers.

Learn how to clean your filters in our article How Do You Clean MVHR Filters?

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