While your air filter cleans the air inside your house, UV lights actually sterilize it. Factors that degrade indoor air quality include inorganic particulates like dust or lint fibers that you can actually see floating around and settling on surfaces inside the house. A quality air filter, ideally changed every month, helps keep these particulates to a minimum. However, what about the stuff you can‘t see? Living microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, and mold spores are invisible to the naked eye. However, these airborne pathogens can cause health effects including allergic reactions in susceptible individuals.
Air filtration doesn’t neutralize microorganisms. In fact, these contaminants may thrive and breed inside HVAC filters, continuing to disperse throughout your house through the system’s normal air circulation. UV lights installed inside the ductwork decontaminate the system airflow by neutralizing common microorganisms. The technology is nothing new: the germicidal effect of ultraviolet wavelengths of light has been used for over a hundred years in hospitals to disinfect the indoor environment as well as sterilize surgical instruments. Many municipal water treatment facilities also utilize ultraviolet light technology to enhance disinfection of the public water supply.
Here’s what you need to know to make an informed decision about adding UV lights to your HVAC system;
- A UV light is typically a small tube like a fluorescent light bulb that is installed by an HVAC technician inside your HVAC ductwork. All air passing through the duct is exposed to the sterilizing effect of the light.
- UV lights may also be added at certain system components that tend to breed toxic mold or bacteria, such as the A/C evaporator coil enclosed in the indoor air handler. Continuous exposure to ultraviolet light prevents growth of these contaminants.
- Most UV light bulbs are rated at just 36 watts and thus consume little electricity.
- UV light destroys microorganisms by neutralizing the reproductive process. These ultraviolet wavelengths are also present in natural sunlight and have no effect on humans.
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