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Two Rules for Choosing the Right Air Filter
12 Jul
By: Climate Control
Technician changing an air filter

An HVAC system with the best energy efficiency can be meaningless if the indoor air quality is poor or you don't have the right air filter. From respiratory issues to high energy usage to constant filter changes, having the wrong air filter can cause problems and inconvenience. Here are a couple things to keep in mind when choosing the right air filter for your HVAC system:

Rule #1 Determine Your Air Filtration Needs

Choosing the right air filter will depend on how clean you need your air to be. The average person doesn't require absolutely pure air with no contaminants whatsoever. On the other hand, most people would prefer not to breathe air that has visible specks of dust and fibers floating in it. The trick is to figure out where along this spectrum your needs fall.

For example, if you suffer from severe allergies or asthma, you will need an air filter capable of removing even the smallest particles of pollen and mold. This will require a more expensive air filter that will likely need a frequent wash or replacement. Also, these types of air filters can slightly reduce the energy efficiency of your HVAC system.

Rule #2: Understand MERV Ratings

Now that you understand your air filtration needs, you need to choose an air filter that can meet those needs. But how can you tell if an air filter will do that? By looking at its MERV rating.

A minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV rating, determines an air filter's effectiveness. MERV ratings usually go from 1 to 20, with 1 being the least effective at removing particles from the air and 20 being the most effective.

A MERV rating of 1-4 offers a very basic level of air filtration, removing larger particles from the air, such as hair, dust mites and carpet fibers. These are usually the cheapest air filters available, but not the most effective at cleaning the air.

A MERV rating of 5-8 provides a higher level of air purification but is still affordable and practical. Air filters with these ratings can typically remove mold spores, most pollen, pet dander and many other allergens.

Air filters with a MERV rating of 9-12 clean the air extremely well and can remove very small particles, such as ultra-fine dust and anything else larger than one micron in size.

For the majority of homes, an air filter with a MERV rating of 13 or above won't be necessary, as it can remove extremely small contaminants from the air, such as bacteria, viruses and smoke. These air filters are much more expensive, and due to their dense filtering material, they can reduce the efficiency of an HVAC system. In fact, if the MERV rating of an air filter is too high, it can damage an HVAC system not designed to handle that type of air filter.

If you think you could use additional assistance in finding the right air filter with high energy efficiency, contact our team of HVAC experts at Climate Control.

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