When it comes to selecting the right air filter for your home, it's important to consider the MERV rating. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and is a nationally recognized measurement system used to evaluate all air filters. The rating is based on the filter's ability to trap particles of a specific size. In general, filters with higher MERV ratings are more effective and improve air quality, but they are also more expensive.
According to ASHRAE, the best rating for residential HVAC systems is MERV 13. However, before you update your filter, make sure that your specific system can adapt to that classification. A higher MERV rating often means lower airflow, which can make the system work harder and use more energy to do its job. For residential use, a filter with a MERV rating of around 10 to 12 is sufficient to remove most allergy-causing particles from the air in your home.
If your HVAC system doesn't allow this type of air filter and your home has someone who suffers from allergies or asthma, it's probably best to upgrade your system to accept the thicker sizes. It should also be noted that filters at the lower end of the MERV scale are not even tested for their efficiency in capturing E1 and E2 particles. A dirty, clogged filter reduces the efficiency of your home's HVAC system by making it more difficult to push air throughout your home. Even though pleated filters have a slightly larger initial pressure drop, it's not significant enough to cause any damage to your HVAC system, as long as you change filters regularly.
E1, E2, and E3 particles are particle range sizes used in air filter tests to determine a MERV rating. If an air cleaner is installed backwards and allowed to operate like this, the HVAC system is likely to operate less efficiently, consume more energy, and do a worse job of filtering the air. Simply choose the size of your air filter, choose how often you want to replace it, and you'll be sure that your new filter is there when you need it. The best MERV rating for residential use is one that properly cleans the air in your home without slowing down airflow or straining your HVAC equipment.