Breathe a Little Easier: The Low-Down on UV Light-Use in Home HVAC Systems

You may have heard about ultraviolet air purification on a home tour, from an allergist, or in a health magazine: Ultraviolet light technology is one of the latest weapons in the arsenal of home allergen defense, and installations are on the rise in Austin Luxury Homes.
Did you know: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns that indoor air may be five times more polluted than outdoor air.
“The best way to address residential indoor air pollution usually is to control or eliminate the source of the pollutants and to ventilate the home with clean outdoor air,” recommends the EPA. “Ventilation may be limited by weather conditions or the levels of contaminants in the outdoor air. If the usual methods of dealing with indoor air pollutants are insufficient, air-cleaning devices may be useful. “My two-year-old son has terrible asthma,” says Barton Creek resident Anna H. “The doctor told me UV lights in the ducting of the house could help so we’re in the process of getting estimates from local AC companies.” How do they work? Ultraviolet rays emitted by a lamp installed in the ductwork of your HVAC system have been proven to break up the structure of microorganisms like fungi, bacteria, viruses, and mold. These include the usual cold and flu germs as well as the more serious Salmonella, Anthrax, Streptococcus, and E.Coli. “UV air purifiers practically eliminate germs inside your ventilation system,” advertises an installer located near the Ranch at Brushy Creek. “Use it to protect your home and your family!” Typical advertisements promise technical benefits too, such as an increase in air conditioning efficiency and lifespan. The idea is not new. According to the National Institute of Health, UV Lighting (also called Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation, or UVGI) has been used to “scrub the air” for decades, mostly in laboratories and hospitals. Home installations are only the latest trend. What’s the cost? Home units typically range from $300 to $500, and installation starts around $250 and takes an average of four hours. Expect annual service to replace old UV bulbs, with each bulb ranging from $40 to $80, plus installation fees. Four things to watch out for, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website: 1. “Regular maintenance of UVGI systems, involving keeping the bulbs free of dust and replacing old bulbs as necessary, is crucial.” 2. Beware of the UV light systems that produce ozone. “Ozone is a potent lung irritant.” 3. Proper Installation is key. “In-duct air-cleaning devices have certain installation requirements that must be met, including sufficient access for inspection during use, repairs, and maintenance.” Choose your installer carefully. 4. “The effective destruction of some viruses and most mold and bacteria spores usually requires much higher UV Exposures than a typical home unit provides,” it warns. “It should be used in addition to—not as a replacement for—conventional particle filtration systems.Austin REALTOR® Brian Talley helps home-buyers stay on top of the latest in Austin Luxury Home trends. If you’re on the lookout for a luxury Austin home for sale, check out Brian’s Austin Home Search!