“You change the air’s ability to hold moisture,” Scheir said. “Cold air holds less moisture than warm air, so that we make water on the coil.”
The condensation that forms on a glass of ice water is a similar process. It is this water that provides a home for billions of bacteria because it can include organic material in the air, everything from after-shave lotion to perfume and food particles.
While water is a given for the air conditioner, adding a UV system around the coils zaps any bacteria that may be present, Scheir said.
Another advantage to germicidal, shortwave ultraviolet light is that removing contaminants allows the coil to work more efficiently, thereby reducing operating costs.
“You probably save $30 a month off your energy bills once this thing is installed and working, and it eliminates an awful lot of discomfort, allergy and asthma in the occupied space,” Scheir said. “In a residential system . . . in order to make temperature, if you’re not getting the heat exchange efficiently, your compressor is going to run longer to get you to temperature. That’s where you’re chewing up your electricity.”
When the H1N1 virus made headlines last year, Scheir’s company saw an increase in sales of the UV germicidal system. However, the company is not able to officially claim that its system kills the H1N1 virus because the technology has not been recognized by the Food and Drug Administration as an effective exterminator.
Still, Scheir vouches for his system.
“There is ample scientific evidence that germicidal ultraviolet destroys viruses,” Scheir said. “Never has there been a virus identified that was resistant to the UV.”
Founded in 1995, Steril-Aire has distribution points in 47 countries, with 11 in the United States, said Peter Beale, director of international sales. The company began through the efforts of Scheir and his late friend, Roscoe Lamplugh, a chemist and medical lab technician who tapped Scheir to develop a prototype for an early UV germicidal light.
“It is becoming a must-have,” Beale said. “The reality is that people are very, very conscious of energy, and this saves significant energy.”