Picture the scene: you’re using ageing air-conditioning equipment in your office building, and its ability to maintain the room temperature and humidity levels you want is in fast decline. you’re also becoming increasingly aware of just how much of a massive energy consumer that air-conditioning system is, with as much as 40% of your building’s energy bill being attributed to it – possibly even more after the long hot summer we just experienced! Ethically and financially, it’s a worry.
The staff aren’t happy with the poor performance of the AC, and you’re concerned about costly repairs and the aforementioned high energy bills. What to do! Well the first thing you should know is that the reason for your air conditioning unit’s lack of effort is probably all down to the cooling coils and their inability to remove the heat from the air. Known, rather unattractively, as ‘coil-fouling’, this common issue is caused by the build-up of bio-contaminants (moulds & bacteria) mixed with dirt on the coil surfaces over time. This build-up means that the coil is essentially now insulated from the very air you’re trying to cool. Did you know a contaminated coil conducts heat about as efficiently as a house brick?! it’s true, look it up! So, you’re now moving less heat and the fan is moving less air, resulting in higher temperatures, more humidity, and unhappy employees.
This decline in your air-conditioning unit’s performance didn’t happen overnight, and it’s not something you’ll notice readily. Perhaps time for a coil clean? Sadly, traditional coil cleaning doesn’t really bio-clean the coil. All it does is clean the outside edges and push the dirt to the middle, out of sight, out of mind. This gets progressively worse as the years go by and some coils are only 50% efficient after 4-5 years. So, UVC is likely your only hope? Unfortunately, you might not have been aware of that, and in the event of a poorly-working air-conditioning unit, your first port of call may well have been to compensate for the reduced airflow and heat transfer by simply ‘turning it up’ – costly from an energy standpoint, not to mention futile.
UVC is used to remove (and prevent!) the microbial and organic material build-up that works as an obstacle between the cooling coil surfaces and the air, and is the most cost-effective way to ensure that your system is running as it should – at optimal performance. UVC means that you can maintain indoor comfort levels while wasting minimal energy and keeping your HVAC running as well as the day it was installed – so long as the lights are maintained.
Because UVC is able to remove the accumulation of organic growth on both inner and outer coil surfaces, as well as other interior surfaces, reducing the need for coil-cleaning, it’s no wonder that building managers are getting their air-conditioning units fitted with UVC light systems. They are easy to install (and with an ROI of 12-24 months), especially when you consider the money that can be saved energy-wise. Operating these installations takes less than 1% of the power that is needed to operate your HVAC, but can increase your unit’s capacity by up to 50%. Making a one-time investment in a UVC system to cut energy waste and improve comfort in your indoor spaces is well-worth it compared to simply cleaning the coils of your old system, especially if you take into consideration the associated loss of production & labour costs, shutting down the whole system, or potentially having to close the building while the work is done. If you are considering a UVC system make sure it’s efficient down to 10 degrees and will maintain output for the full 12 months – don’t be tempted by a cheap system that is likely to maintain its power for the first three months and then drop off very quickly. In addition, because UVC passively keeps everything bio clean and 100% efficient, it means that your HVAC systems will last much longer – adding to that the reduction in absence you have a no-brainer win-win.
If you’re not already convinced, it’s worth knowing that the mould found in the cooling coils emits spores, mould ‘poo’ if you will, out into the air, and therefore into the lungs of the occupants – a major asthma trigger! When you consider that asthma sufferers take off an average of an extra 3.3 days a year, it could be a pretty big hit to the productivity levels of your business. At E-Co we take petri-dish samples before and after UVC units are installed, and there is mould on 99.9% of coils in UK systems – so if you’ve ever found yourself sneezing after switching on the AC in your car, for example, it’s probably worth noting that that’s down to the mould poo you’re inhaling! And it’s not just asthma that contributes to absenteeism in the workplace – a phenomenon that costs the UK economy a yearly average of £91.9 billion – UVC also helps in the battle against workplace sickness by reducing the spread and contamination of colds, flus and viruses, including COVID-19, e,coli, norovirus and MRSA. UVC literally enables disinfection WITHOUT the need for strong chemical sanitisers that can be harmful to your skin or your electrical equipment. Despite many people returning to the office in the wake of the pandemic, surveys have shown that as many as 74% of employees are still concerned about COVID-19 protection at work, but the use of UVC can restore employee confidence and peace of mind by providing around-the-clock protection from viral transmission.
So, if the elimination of mould poo spores isn’t enough reason for you to be using UVC, what other benefits does this technology have? Well, aside from having your employees taking less sick days thanks to the elimination of build-up and an improved airflow, your maintenance costs are going to go down, and it will even eliminate odours. It’s possible that your HVAC system can transport the odours of paint, tobacco smoke, food and other contaminants – that can be annoying at best, and dangerous to health at worst – into your working environment. UVC eliminates these organic compounds from the air.
A cleaner system that is no longer clogged with dirt, mould and other pollutants means improved airflow, which can increase your system’s capacity by as much as 35%. increased energy means reduced energy costs, and the increased lifespan of your HVAC system thanks to UVC makes it more sustainable and greener – so you get extra brownie points there!