What HVAC Filter Should I Buy For My Home?

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Who Needs Air Filters Most

Air filters are crucial for people who suffer from respiratory illnesses, including asthma and hay fever. If you have pets in your home, the allergens floating around can trigger an allergic reaction that filtering can minimize or even eliminate.

The Benefits of Air Filters

Air Filters Provide a Number of Benefits:

  • Clean the air inside your home
  • Control pollution levels
  • Remove microbial growth, bacteria, dust, pet dander, dust, smoke and other contaminants
  • Protect your expensive air conditioning and heating equipment

Understanding Air Filter Choices

You’ve probably experienced the feeling of confusion when trying to select the correct home air filter for your needs. What’s the best one? Are the more expensive products worth the investment? These are just two of many of the questions that make purchasing air filters for your home mind-boggling. Let Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning crack the code of home air filters for you, so you can feel comfortable with your purchase.

Size, MERV rating and material – these are the three primary factors used to pick the proper air filter for your home.

1) Filter Size

Size is the easiest factor to ascertain. Simply look at the label of your existing filter to see the proper measurements, or just measure it yourself. Typically home air filters are 1” thick, but there are numerous standard width and height dimensions, and some systems have thicker filters.

2) Material & MERV Rating

The efficiencies of filters are rated on a scale of 16, known as MERV ratings. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This number identifies for the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to hold contaminants. Typically speaking, cheaper filters will have fairly low MERV ratings. This means that you generally receive what you are willing to pay for with these filters. This is only a guide, so be sure to read the filter manufacturers’ information when shopping for specific filters.

Fiberglass Air Filters

These filter types are extremely thin and feature a flat-panel simple surface that traps particles out of the air. These filters were originally designed to protect air conditioning and heating equipment and not to serve the purpose of improving the air quality indoors. These filters are usually available for around under a dollar for one but only remove under 20% of air pollutants in the home. The majority only feature a MERV rating of between 1-4. Intended Dust Spot Efficiency is <20% of particles >10.0 microns in size (household dust, pollen and mold spores).

Pleated Air Filters 

These air conditioner filters are able to remove more airborne pollutants found in the air around the home. However, the number of pleats according to each square foot has an impact on the overall efficiency. These filters usually retail for around $10-15 each and have a MERV rating of between 5-8. Intended Dust Spot Efficiency is <20% to 60% of particles 3.0-10.0 microns in size.

Filters that feature more pleats and greater media surface area per square foot will provide better airflow in the home. The more air that can flow through the ventilation system of the home, the more it will be recirculated. The result from this type of air filter is cleaner air due to the air passing through a more dense type of air filter media than fiberglass.

Washable Electrostatic Air Filters

This type of panel air filter is designed to be washed, reused and environmentally friendly.  Made with a combination of washable air filter media that can include polypropylene, foam, or nonwoven polyester with metal or plastic support.  These filters usually retail for around $30-$100 each and have a MERV rating between 5-8 with an Average Arrestance Efficiency of 80 to 95% of particles 3.0-10.0 microns in size.  Washable air filters are a 1x purchase, giving homeowners the least cost over the air filter’s useful life.  Most come with a Lifetime Warranty, and with proper care, they can outlast the life of an HVAC system.

High Efficiency Pleated Air Filters

These are some of the best disposable filters for air conditioner units used in the home and have the ability to remove 40-85% of pollutants in the air. They typically feature a MERV rating of 9 to 14 at a cost of $15-$30 each. These high efficiency filters are also regarded as one of the best air conditioner filters for allergies as they perform the function of trapping extremely small particles like bacteria and particles that carry viruses, as well as mold, pollen, dust and other types of irritants. These filters are developed using fine fibers made up of synthetic polyester.

True HEPA Filters

High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters offer the best filtration for any home in the way of removing about 99% of pollutants in the air found commonly in residential homes. These filters feature a MERV rating of between 17 -20, and are typically used with stand alone electronic air purifiers or whole-house filtration systems. The HEPA filters may be significantly efficient, but they do require a large amount of air pressure in order to force air through the filter.

Be Careful About High MERV Ratings

While a higher MERV number may provide better filtration efficiency, it is extremely important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also cost you more to operate your heating and air conditioning system. The higher the MERV, the less the air may flow through the system, and the harder the system may need to work. Your goal is to get the right balance between airflow, air filtration level and energy efficiency.

The experts at Air Mechanic Services have extensive experience and the knowledge to assist you with your air filtering needs. Please feel free to call if you need more information or are ready to make an appointment.

Call (281) 220-9722 today

To set up your in-home consultation.