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Furnace Air Filters Types and Tips: Simply Boost Air Quality and Savings

Posted on May 1, 2014

Furnace air filters can boost air quality and HVAC performance if they are selected and used properly.  Review these types and tips to determine what type of filter is best for your home, as well as how to use and maintain a filter once you choose one:

Filter Types

The function of air filters is to capture airborne contaminants, which protects HVAC components and maintains good indoor air quality. Which filter type is right for your home?

  • Disposable fiberglass filters are low cost and low quality. If indoor air quality is important to you, avoid these filters.
  • Disposable pleated filters offer mid-efficiency protection, removing most allergens, such as pollen and pet dander, depending on the efficiency rating (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV).
  • Electrostatic filters are made of self-charging electrostatic cotton or paper fibers that capture airborne particles by attraction. These mid-efficiency filters, like disposable pleated options, are a good value for their performance. They are available as disposable or permanent (lasting six to eight years).
  • High-efficiency pleated filters offer the best protection from airborne viruses, bacteria and germs. These filters are very thick, and are typically housed in a metal box. Your HVAC professional needs to evaluate your system for compatibility due to their size and pressure drop (airflow restriction).

Usage and Changing Tips

For best performance, your new filter should be mid- or high-efficiency, have a nice snug fit and changed when dirty. Here’s why.

  • A clogged filter makes the furnace and AC blower work harder, which uses more electricity for higher energy bills.
  • The filter should fit snug in its slot so there is no air bypass.
  • A low-quality filter won’t capture harmful contaminants, such as mold spores, pollen and viruses. Occupants with respiratory issues are at greater risk of allergy and asthma attacks.
  • Mold spores can spread and grow on HVAC components, including ductwork, which may cause damage to property and decreased HVAC efficiency.

A Word About MERV

MERV is a universal filter efficiency rating system, with a scale of 1-16 (16 being most efficient). Generally speaking, low-efficiency disposable filters fall within MERV 1-4, mid-efficiency MERV 6-12, and high-efficiency MERV 13-16.

For more tips about air filters, contact Comfort Systems today.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Wichita, Kansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about furnace air filters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

 

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