There are many variables to consider when selecting an air filter for your HVAC system. Typically, air filters should be changed every one to three months, but many of us are guilty of waiting way too long to change them out. In addition, when selecting an air filter many are quite satisfied picking out the cheapest.
Oxford air conditioning service companies want you to know that HVAC filters have become increasingly important as they play a significant role in energy efficiency and indoor air quality. A dirty air filter causes your system to be overworked and reduces the quality of your indoor air. But just how does one go about choosing an air filter? It really isn’t that difficult.
MERV is the acronym for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, which basically translates into the effectiveness of your air filter. MERV ratings range from 1-16, the higher the MERV rating, the fewer contaminants, like dust particles, can pass through it. In other words, the higher the MERV rating, the better the air filter. Some of the particles that filters are evaluated for include dust mites, carpet fibers, pet dander, pollen and bacteria. If you desire a filter that adequately removes airborne contaminants, choose one with a MERV rating of 7-12. For comparison, hospitals and surgery settings typically use filters with a MERV rating of 13-16.
Fiberglass filters are relatively inexpensive and they will protect your HVAC unit, but that is where the benefits end. Fiberglass filters can sell for as little as $1, they are thin and flat and feature a basic panel surface for trapping particles. However, these types of filters remove less than 10 percent of the air pollutants from your home. Fiberglass filters typically have a MERV rating between 1 and 4. So if you sneeze a lot when at home, you might want to check your HVAC filter and consider an upgrade.
Pleated and Polyester Filters
Pleated and polyester air filters are similar to fiberglass filters but are better at trapping air pollutants. These types of filters will remove as much as 45 percent of the pollutants from your home. Pleated and polyester filters are more expensive than fiberglass filters as they run around $10 each and they have a MERV rating between 8 and 13.
Washable Air Filters
For around $20, you can be the proud owner of a washable air filter. However, these types of filters have a very low MERV rating, between 1 and 4, and require extensive maintenance. Another drawback to washable filters is they easily collect bacteria and fungus which can escape and circulate throughout your home. Perhaps it is best if you avoid these types of filters.
High-efficiency filters cost around $25 each and boast a high MERV rating of 14 to 16. These filters remove up to 85 percent of the pollutants in your home and are capable of trapping very small particles. However, these types of filters are not very practical for residential use. HVAC filters with a rating of 9 to 12 are typically the best choice for homeowners.
Your indoor air quality matters, so when shopping HVAC air filters, choose wisely.