The Right Filter Keeps Your Furnace Operating at Peak Efficiency
Choosing a furnace filter is a lot like choosing a car – they’ll all do the job, but some come with more bells and whistles.
The main purpose of a furnace filter is to protect the blower fan from all the dust, hair and other gunk the return duct pulls in. So, this this season, when you turn your furnace on and air starts blowing, furnace filters have the dirty job of basically straining out airborne contaminants before they hit the air you breathe. When it comes time to change your furnace filter it’s a good time to think about upgrading to one that suits your needs. Choosing what kind of furnace filter to buy for your furnace depends on what you’re trying to filter, how diligent you are about changing the filter, and if you’re concerned about the operating efficiency of your furnace equipment and of course how much you want to spend.
Cost of Furnace Filters
Furnace filter prices have a pretty wide range, and you definitely get what you pay for. The more expensive ones mean that you’re getting a filter you won’t have to change as often and it captures more, and smaller, particles. This type of filter means your family won’t breath in the allergens and contaminants that cause allergy and asthma attacks, as well as other respiratory problems. The cheaper woven fiberglass filters on the other do one job —screen out dirt and debris that could damage your furnace blower motor, though they do take out some pollen and mold spores. These don’t do the superior job of filtering out the allergens so your lungs will do the filtering. The cheap furnace filters also mean you’ll need to remember to swap them out every month or so. Now if you’re the kind of person who forgets to change the oil in your car, buy a cheap furnace filter will most likely result in problems like furnace repairs, inefficient furnace operation and dirty air. Capital Heating & Cooling includes furnace filter replacement or cleaning with your annual furnace maintenance. Signing up for a pre-paid HVAC maintenance plan means changing the furnace filter on time is taken care of for you.
Allergens & Dust
Another factor to consider when choosing a furnace filter is what you want to filter out of your air. Do you simply want to keep the furnace clean (which helps it run more efficiently and prevents breakdowns), or do you want your furnace filter to help improve your indoor air quality? Furnace efficiency is one thing. But if you’re a clean freak, have pets, asthma, allergies or low-immunity issues, a high-efficiency (MERV 11 and higher) furnace filter is a better option. High-efficiency furnace filters use electrostatic filters that both filter and magnetically attract contaminants. They can filter out bacteria, dander, odors and smoke particles. A good idea is to use them in conjunction with a high-efficiency vacuum cleaner, a whole home air purifier.
Consider MERV rating when thinking about what you want to filter. The (MERV) minimum efficiency reporting value scale goes from 1- 16. Most home filters are in the 4 to 12 range however with the right furnace filter and HVAC system you can get hospital grade air. The higher the MERV rating, the contaminants it can filter. For most homeowners, a more expensive MERV 7 or 8 pleated filters provides a good balance between cost and filtration efficiency. These filters cat 80-95% of the particles 5 microns and larger, more than enough filtration for most households. Your furnace filter works year round, not just in heating season. Actually your filter works harder in summer because many blower motors work at a higher speed in AC mode than in heating mode. A clogged filter can make both your furnace and your air conditioner work harder and less efficiently.
Important Information About Home Furnace Filters
The MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values) scale rates the furnace filter’s efficiency on a scale of 1-20
|Disposable fiberglass||made from 1″-thick spun fiberglass this basic furnace filter does little more than prevent larger particles ie. lint, dust, lint from entering your furnace system.||2-3||least expensive, good for those without allergies or asthma||Has little to zero impact on cleaning the air|
|Disposable pleated||made from cotton paper or polyester, can remove smaller particles like dust mites and mold spores and mites.||6||affordable, can be from environmentally friendly materials||Needs to be changed often to prevent clogging and taxing your HVAC system. This filter option can also add more resistance to air flow which makes your HVAC system more expensive to operate|
|Permanent electrostatic||similar to the disposable version, these attract particles using contain self-charging cotton fibers that. Unlike the disposable version, these filters are removable machine-washable, which results in a shelf life of 6-8 years.||8||environmentally friendly, more effective than pleated.||custom sizes are expensive|
|Disposable electrostatic||contains self-charging cotton fibers that traps small particles.||10||good for homes with kids, pets, or smokers. Affordable if you get a standard size||regular replacement can get be costly|
|High-efficiency pleated||made from deep 4-5″ pleated synthetic cotton, attached to very rigid metal grid to prevent leaks or fluttering.||14-16||good for those with allergies, asthma or other respiratory problems or autoimmune disorders.||Expensive. Not compatible with all systems due to its thick size|
Regardless of what kind of furnace filter you choose, it’s imperative to keep it clean for optimal HVAC operation and to keep your indoor air clean.