The rapidly rising cost of air conditioning energy is a problem for hospitals everywhere, and McAllen, Texas, is no exception.
In a town where over 90˚F days are common yearround, and the mercury can top the 100˚ mark even in winter, the seasons might be described as “hot and hotter.” But at McAllen’s Rio Grande Regional Hospital, administrators are staying cool with the knowledge that — even in the face of a 33 percent utility rate hike — their electric bill has declined over the past two years.
What accounts for this phenomenon? You might be surprised.
“We attribute it to the incorporation of UVC lights into the air handling systems,” answered Oscar Molano, director of plant operations for the hospital. “We were looking for a way to save on a/c energy costs without compromising air quality or patient comfort.”
They found the light (UVC), so to speak.
The Wonders Of UVC
Working with Rio Filter Supply Co. of Harlingen, Texas, Molano fi rst learned that high-output ultraviolet-C band (UVC) devices have become a popular addition to new and existing HVAC systems because of their multiple performance benefi ts. Th e energy emitted by the UVC devices is considered the most germicidal in the ultraviolet spectrum.
Properly installed in air handlers, high-output UVC lights are designed to penetrate even the tiniest microbes to destroy their DNA and RNA, killing or deactivating them. In this manner, the lights eff ectively degrade mold and other organisms that sometimes grow deep inside HVAC systems, as well as airborne microbes that circulate through these systems to the occupied space.
Decades-old studies have shown that even a microscopic layer of organic buildup on a/c coil fi ns can create a noticeable drop in system effi ciency. By eliminating this buildup and preventing its recurrence, UVC devices are designed to keep coils continuously clean. Th is, in turn, lowers HVAC energy costs by improving heat transfer and increasing net cooling capacity.