On this blog, we talk a lot about air filters. And I mean, a LOT. It is one of the best and simplest steps that a homeowner can take to care for their heating and cooling system and a great way to improve indoor air quality. And, because it’s so easy and so routine, it’s also one of the most overlooked steps in maintaining your system. A system that has air filters changed consistently can run much longer AND much more efficiently than those that aren’t, and with the low amount of effort and expense needed to perform this, why wouldn’t any homeowner make the effort to ensure that this is done?
This does, however, raise at least one question our technicians get when visiting homeowners in Rolesville, Raleigh, and Wake Forest – what type of air filter should I get? This, of course, will vary from home to home, business to business, and will ultimately come down to the discretion of the homeowner, but there are differences that you should be aware of. Please read on to get the lowdown on air filters.
One quick item to address first, however – we will be talking about MERV ratings. If you’ve never heard of these ratings before, you’re not alone. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and is a way of rating how much dust, dirt, and airborne particles a filter can trap. A low score doesn’t catch much, while higher scores will prevent more particles from passing through. Now, moving on…
Flat-Paneled Fiberglass Filters. These are the most basic disposable air filters around. Acting much like a window screen, these flat filters come with a relatively low MERV score, but also are quite inexpensive. If you’re unconcerned about air quality and want the most bang for your buck, this might be the top option.
Pleated Filters. The next step up from the flat filters would be the pleated filters. These are folded like an accordion and do a better job of catching dust and dander, giving it a higher MERV score. They are typically more expensive than the flat filters, but are a good compromise between price and effectiveness. These are probably the most common we see in peoples’ homes, and the ones we tend to recommend most often.
HEPA Filters. For those homes that deal with allergies, asthma, other respiratory issues, or simply want the best air quality in their homes, HEPA filters are the way to go. These filters provide the highest MERV scores available, but do so at a higher price point than other filters. These tend to be an unnecessary expense for most people, but can certainly make a difference in air quality for those who need it.
Reusable Filters. Did you know that there are reusable air filters on the market today? If you’re concerned about waste and preserving the environment, you may elect to go with these style filters. They tend to be a bit pricey up-front, but if used for a long time you could end up saving considerable amounts of money over the long haul. They do pose problems with mold and mildew if not cared for properly, however, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on care and usage. Also, their MERV scores are typically lower than those in pleated and HEPA filters, so this may not be the best option if air quality is yoru foremost concern.
We can’t promise that we’ll talk less about air filters in future blog installments, but hopefully this will help address any questions that you may have about the types of filters on the market and which is best to use. As with all things, check with your manufacturer to see what filters they recommend and begin your assessment there. Trial and error is always at play here, too, so try different types of filters and see what works best for your family and budget. And, as always, give us a call if you’re still ‘filtering’ through your options.