Choosing Air Filters For Your Home: Understanding Your Choices

In many HVAC systems, the air filter is primarily designed to protect the system from dust accumulation and particles that could cause system damage, but higher-quality filters can also help to improve indoor air quality by removing, dust, pollen, pet dander and other undesirable particles. Air filters are classified by their MERV ratings, with a higher number representing better filtration.

  • Fiberglass filters: These filters are mostly intended to protect the HVAC system, and they typically have a MERV rating of 1 to 4, meaning that they only remove about 10 percent of pollutants. Most fiberglass filters are disposable, though some can be washed and reused.
  • Pleated filters: Pleated air filters have multiple folds to increase the surface area compared to fiberglass filters, and with MERV ratings of about 5 to 13, they can remove up to 45 percent of airborne particles.
  • High-efficiency media: These denser, thicker pleated fitters have MERV ratings of about 14 to 16 and can remove up to 85 percent of contaminants.
  • Electrostatic filters: These filters use an electric charge to attract particles, increasing filtering efficiency without slowing the airflow like dense high-efficiency filters.
  • HEPA filters: High-efficiency particulate air filters can remove up to 98 percent of airborne particles, but they are often too large and restrictive for use in standard HVAC systems. They are typically added with a whole-home air cleaning system.

As the MERV rating of a filter increases, the amount that it restricts airflow also increases. This can make the HVAC system work harder, increasing your energy costs. For most homes, an air filter with a MERV rating of between 8 and 10 provides a good balance between filtering efficiency and airflow. For improved air filtering, you may consider adding a whole-home air cleaner with either an electrostatic filter or a HEPA filter.

To learn more about the different types of air filters, talk to our team at Conditioned Air. We can help you find the best filtering solution for your needs and your budget. Since 1962, we have been providing Southwest Florida residents with superior air conditioning and air quality services.

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