Just go to any home improvement store and the choice of home air filters can be dizzying. What does my system require? Is the more expensive products worth the investment? These are just a few of the questions that make selecting home air filters so mind-boggling. Let Bryant Heating & Cooling Service Experts try to help you de-mystify the air filter dilemma.
Here’s a simple way to figure out how efficient your current filter is (NOTE: Do this outdoors or with something below the filter so you don’t end up with a mess): Position the filter horizontally, then using everyday table salt, pour the salt through the filter and see how much comes out the other side. If some or all the salt falls through the filter, then you know that the filter will let dust particles of similar size pass through. You really should upgrade your filter to an air filter that’s more efficient.
Size, MERV rating and material – these are the three primary factors used to pick the proper air filter for your home.
1) Filter Size
Purchasing a properly sized air filter for your Windsor home is important. Simply look at the label of your existing filter to see the height by width and thickness, or just measure it yourself. The majority of home air filters are 1” thick, but there are a variety of standard width and height dimensions, and some systems have thicker filters.
2) Material & MERV Rating
The efficiencies of filters are rated on a scale of 16, known as MERV ratings. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This number tells the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to contain contaminants.
To explain MERV ratings more impactfully, these are some usual MERV ratings and how they correspond to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so be sure to read the filter manufacturers’ information when shopping for specific filters.
Rating Average Filtration Efficiency
MERV 1-4 60-80%
Fiberglass, Disposable Panel, Washable metal/synthetic, self-charging (Passive)
MERV 5-8 80-95%
Pleated, Media panel, Cube
MERV 9-12 >95%
MERV 13-16 >98%
Be Careful About High MERV Ratings
While a higher MERV number may offer better filtration efficiency, it is very important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also cost you more to operate your HVAC system. The higher the MERV, the less the air may flow through the system, and the harder the system may need to work. Your aim is to get the right balance between air flow, air filtration level and energy efficiency.
Look at it this way, the most efficient ‘filter’ would probably be a piece of plywood that prevents ALL contaminants and all the air from getting into your Windsor home. That's all-out air filtration, but would also be like living in a box.
A safe bet for most systems would be a MERV 6-8. A higher MERV filter should be used on the advice of your Bryant Heating & Cooling Service Experts technician to verify your system has the capability of moving the suitable volume of air through higher efficiency filters. You generally do not want to give up energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family has allergies or respiratory problems and the situation necessitates a high MERV rated air filter, consider a whole-home air filtration solution that will meet your energy and filter efficiency needs.
Filtration has changed greatly over the past ten years. In the beginning, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to safeguard the comfort equipment itself. The story is different today. Windsor area homeowners expect their air filter to save children from a whole host of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!