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How do I Know Which Air Filter to Buy For my House?

Last month I talked about how important it is to change your air filter every month. A fresh new air filter will lower your electric and gas bills, but more importantly will improve the health and wellbeing of every member of the family, especially those with allergies, asthma and other respiratory struggles. But how do I know which air filter will do the job without spending more money than I have to? How do I know which air filter is best for my system and lifestyle?

Mechanical Air Filters

Use synthetic fibers to trap small particles, debris, and dust, among other things — preventing those things from circulating in the air and getting into our lungs. These filters are rated by Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). This rating has a lot to do with the price of the air filter. Generally the higher the rating the higher the price. This averages out to some extent though as the cheaper filters need to be replaced more often than a more expensive filter.

HVAC air filtersThe cheapest type of air filters are fiberglass filters. These filters are a weave of fiberglass that catches dust and pollen in the fibers. These were originally intended to protect the heating and air conditioning system, so are not very good at protecting you. In fact, they only remove about 10% of the pollutants in your air.

The first level of air filter that actually cleans the air for you and your family is the pleated air filter. This air filter will filter out 45% of the pollutants in your air. The more pleats in the air filter, the better it does at removing particles. While these cost significantly more, it is well worth the expense.

 

High Efficiency Air Filters

Are the most recommended filters for your home. They will filter out 85% of the pollutants in your air making it much healthier for you and your family. They look similar to pleated air filters in that they are made of a material that is pleated, but this material is much finer pleated material and sometimes is even coated to kill microbes like mold and bacteria. These filters will cost more, but you will make it up in a more efficient and longer lasting heating and cooling system, as well as fewer trips to the doctor.

Finally is the HEPA filter. This is by far the best filter at cleaning your air. It cleans up to 98% of pollutants from your air; however, this must be either a part of your heating and air conditioning system or be a stand alone unit. You cannot simply purchase HEPA filters to change out like you do with the other filters. While a HEPA filter is extremely efficient, it requires a higher level of air pressure than a normal system produces.

Indoor air pollution ranks among the top 5 environmental health risks. Stay away from the cheap bargain furnace filters. Instead, opt for pleated high-efficiency air filters with a MERV rating of 8 or higher and at least 10 pleats per foot. The more respiratory difficulties your family faces, the better quality filter you will need.

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