The answer is not as simple as you might think. There are many different types of air filters available, and choosing the right one can make a real difference to the lifespan of your HVAC system. Air filters are designed to remove particles of different sizes from the air before it flows through the blower and into your home. Not only do they help to keep the air your family breathes clean, but they also filter out fine dirt particles that can degrade the performance of the HVAC system itself. When selecting an air filter, it's important to check its MERV rating.
MERV, or Minimum Efficiency Report Value, tells you how well a filter can capture contaminants. If the MERV rating is too high, your HVAC will need to work harder to produce efficient airflow. For example, hospitals use filters with a rating of 16, but that's not necessary for your home environment and using a filter with such a high rating will increase your energy costs. You may also come across OEM filters or original equipment manufacturers. These are produced by the brand name company and are often more expensive than aftermarket or discounted home air filters.
The biggest difference between them is usually just the cost. When comparing the material from which each air filter is made, they will look and feel identical. The only difference you may notice is if the OEM filter material is limited or has a patented design. You may also see a difference in the brand and name of the oven filter. Air filters can be easily ordered by the number printed on an existing product, or you can measure the actual size of the opening where the filter is installed to determine the nominal filter size you need. Filters with more pleats will provide better filtration than those with fewer folds, trapping even the toughest allergens and contaminants, such as pet dander and mold spores. If you have a significant allergy to something that is prominent in your area, you'll want to increase indoor air quality with a Second Nature Health Shield (MERV 1) filter or an equivalent level.
MERV ratings measure the efficiency and effectiveness of air filters in capturing particulate matter in the air. The starting price of this type of air filter for HVAC systems is high, but it should be considered as an investment that will last for many years. Household HVAC air filters are rated based on their MERV rating, with most household filters between 1 and 13 (more than 13 are for HEPA filters). Not only can home air filtration be a matter of life and death for those suffering from a multitude of respiratory conditions, but even those who consider themselves normal and healthy can benefit from cleaner, dust-free and allergen-free air. The company that also manufactured its HVAC unit manufactures an OEM oven filter, while aftermarket air filters are manufactured by specialized third-party companies. This is important because the concentration of air pollutants inside your home can be two to five times higher than the concentrations normally found outdoors. Pleated filters work to capture an extremely high percentage of large particles and a much larger number of small particles than competing filter types.
Therefore, washable filters tend to work the other way around than fiberglass, as they let the largest particles through and filter out the most. Air filters come in various shapes and materials, each with different capacities and prices. Start by determining the specific needs of the occupants of your home, which should be directly correlated with the CADR or MERV ratings of your air filters. The right HVAC filters can make all the difference between clogged air full of contaminants and clean air that is healthy and easy to breathe. These filters aren't known for improving air quality, as they can't put much effort into it and can only trap some of the dust and allergens. In conclusion, when selecting an air filter for your HVAC system it's important to consider factors such as MERV rating, cost, material used in construction, brand name, size and pleat count. Be sure to choose one that meets your specific needs in terms of indoor air quality while also being cost-effective.
Investing in a quality filter now will save you money in energy costs in the long run.