When shopping for a new HVAC system air filter to keep your home’s air clean, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the options. Filters for your forced-air system come in a seemingly endless array of sizes, materials, and filtration levels. So, which one is suitable for your home and just how often should you change the HVAC filter?
If you change your filters on a regular schedule, have your AC system tuned once or twice a year, and don’t suffer from allergies, a basic, inexpensive fiberglass filter is probably fine. However, depending on your needs, other types of air filters may work better for your household.
Does It Matter What Air Filter You Use for Your House?
The one hard-and-fast rule about replacing your air filter is to make sure you buy the right size for your system. The dimensions should be printed on the side of your old filter, or you can measure the size of your HVAC’s air intake vent before heading to the store.
Once you know the size you’re looking for, it’s time to turn your attention to the different types of filters:
- Fiberglass: These are the most common and cost-effective HVAC filters but lack robust air quality defense.
- Pleated: A pleated, cotton filter surface can trap more particles than non-pleated surfaces and cost $20 to $60.
- Washable: Washable filters are made from a synthetic material that can be washed once a month and last up to a year. They generally don’t filter out as much material as other models.
- High efficiency: High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are good at filtering out most mold, dust, pollen, and bacteria.
How Do I Choose the Right Air Filter Type for My Needs?
Replacing your home’s HVAC air filter is an essential part of the ongoing maintenance of your system. For optimal performance, you should consider replacing your air filter every three months.
The next time you change your filter, you may want to try a different type. Here are two reasons you may decide to select a new filter:
Changing Your Filter Type for Convenience
You may consider switching to a polyester air filter because they work like standard fiberglass filters, except they last longer before they wear out. For example, a fiberglass filter may only last one month, while a polyester filter will easily last three months or more.
Depending on where a house is located, some homeowners can get away with waiting six months before changing them. This makes for easy “twice-a-year” filter changes: once at the start of AC season and once at the end.
Changing Your Filter Type for Allergies or Asthma
Allergy sufferers will want to pay attention to the MERV (minimum efficiency reporting values) rating on today’s air filters. A MERV rating helps determine the performance difference between different filters.
Filters are rated on a MERV rating scale of 1 to 16, but most home air filters are rated between 1 to 12. The rating system refers to the filter’s ability to capture particles between 0.3 and 10 microns. Higher rating numbers mean the filter is better at trapping particular particle types.
A lot of homeowners install MERV rated filters between 1-4 that primarily filter out lint, pollen, and dust, among other more significant common particles. But, unfortunately, they don’t do much to trap smaller microparticles.
MERV filters rated 13 to 16 are sold with higher price tags but are best for removing bacteria, tobacco smoke, and sneeze residue. These are the best choice to filter the air for allergy and asthma sufferers.
Changing Your Filter Type for Reducing Your Carbon Footprint
There is a third option for changing your filter type, though not as common. To reduce your home’s environmental impact, you can also buy a reusable or electrostatic filter. These are filters you wash once a month, rather than throwing out and replacing.
The electrostatic cells in this filter type are 97% effective at trapping 0.1 microns to 10 micron particles. In comparison, the HEPA filter is about 99.97% efficient at trapping micron particles from 0.3 to 10 microns.
If none of the above situations apply to you, a more inexpensive fiberglass filter may be an excellent choice.
Ambient Edge Can Help You Choose the Best Air Filter
If you have a new HVAC system or have general questions regarding your air filter, the air quality experts at Ambient Edge can help. In addition, our knowledgeable technicians can help you resolve allergy and energy efficiency issues and make intelligent AC-related recommendations for your home.
We offer AC & furnace checkups and maintenance, air purification product installation, and even 24-hour emergency service. Plus, we have a 100% satisfaction guarantee. So, give us a call or fill out our online form to schedule your service. One of our professionals will get back to you right away.