How optimised ventilation slows the spread of Covid-19

Just when we thought Covid was going away as the lockdown restrictions end and travel slowly opens up to the greater world – new variants are discovered, travel is shut down, and regulations are again put in place.

While we safeguard ourselves through constant sanitising, social distancing, and everyday improvement in hygienic practices, we often overlook one of the largest spreaders of the virus – the ventilation systems in our homes and workspaces.

According to a report by McKinsey – in collaboration with Advanced Industry Practice – modifications to heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems might help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus by purifying air, improving ventilation, and managing airflows.

You can read this report in detail here.

In this blog, we will look at some of the facts presented and the accompanying solutions for your benefit.

Upgrades to HVAC systems

Older HVAC models pose the risk of potentially spreading a virus across rooms when high-speed air flows past an infected person to others. In addition, buildings with older hardware have inflexible systems where airflow cannot be varied or shut down over weekends or overnight.

Newer technology, however, has variable air rate exchanges (when your ‘inside’ air is replaced with ‘outside’ air), which assist in reducing the chances of recirculation.

Additionally, upgraded systems can be set to circulate air – even in low-use times, such as overnight or throughout the weekend – with power conservation options, thus using less energy being continuously on, as opposed to the stop-start cycles of older systems.

Air purification options

Beyond spreading the virus through the air, your HVAC should have some sort of air purifying system, and the three most common ones are filtration, irradiation, and thermal, with newer technologies using ionisation. But what does this mean?

Let’s take a look.


This system has a membrane – a filter which is often a fibre-based material, through which air is forced. While this is awesome for pollen and allergy control, efficacy varies per material used and the air pressure.

Filtration is a step in the right direction; however, viruses remain active, and this measure is not a completely safe solution.


Through electromagnetic radiation, pathogens are deactivated in an irradiation system. Unfortunately, while this system does prove to be an advantage in the fight against Covid, this system has its limitations. For instance, it cannot be used in occupied spaces since light exposure from electromagnetic radiation can harm skin and eyes.

This system is only practical when light can reach the various surfaces, posing a significant technical challenge for installation.


High-intensity targeted heating is used to heat the air before that air is circulated. While this system can be deployed in stand-alone units or through HVAC systems, it requires significant time to be truly effective. In addition, this system will not be fully efficient for continuous airflow.


Ionisers use negative ions to remove small particles in the air. This ingenious system can reduce odours and even fight viruses. Understanding what air ionisers do helps us to know what air ions are. Air ions are molecules with an electrical charge. They’re invisible molecules that float around in the atmosphere. Negative ions are molecules that have gained an electron; positive ions have lost an electron.

An air ioniser releases negative ions into the air. For example, the negative ions attach to tiny particles, like those in tobacco smoke. This gives the particles an electrical charge, causing them to clump together and land on surfaces that can then be cleaned.

Of course, while effective, they do not remove large particles from the air like dust, dander, and pollen, which is often why this type of solution is most effective with an additional filtration purifier within a system.

In conclusion

Newer, technologically-advanced systems can improve the quality of your air and your life without the high running costs of conventional HVAC systems.

And while Covid remains an everyday fight, it is essential to protect your home and work environments.

As mentioned above, there are various air purifying options, and the best solution for you can differ according to your space.

Contact us today for a free, on-site survey of your current system, and our experts will advise you further regarding the best solution for your peace of mind.