You’ve probably experienced the feeling of confusion when trying to select the correct home air filter for your needs. What does my system require? Is the more expensive products worth the investment? These are just a couple of the questions that make selecting home air filters so mind-boggling. Let D&K Home Services by Enercare try to help you de-mystify the air filter dilemma.
Here’s an easy way to determine how efficient your old filter is (NOTE: Spare yourself a huge mess by conducting this experiment outside or with something below the filter to help keep things clear): Hold the filter horizontally, then using everyday table salt, pour the salt through the filter to see the quantity that comes out the other side. If some or all the salt falls through the filter, then you can imagine that the filter will let dust that same size flow through. You really should upgrade your filter to higher quality filter that is 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 Belleville 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. Typically home air filters are 1” thick, but there are a numerous 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 informs the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to hold contaminants.
To help explain the scale of this system, these are some typical MERV ratings and how they connect to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so be sure to read the filter manufacturers’ information when purchasing 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 critical to understand that too high a MERV filter may also require more to operate your furnace and AC system. The higher the MERV, the more difficult the air may flow through the system, and the harder the system may need to work. Your objective should be to get the right balance between air flow, air filtration level and energy efficiency.
Look at it this way, the most efficient ‘filter’ would actually be a piece of plywood that stops ALL contaminants and all the air from coming inside your Belleville home. That's definitely the “best” air filtration, but would also be like living in a box.
Your best bet for most systems would be a MERV 6-8. A higher MERV filter should be used on the advice of your D&K Home Services by Enercare service advisor to ensure your system has the capability of moving the suitable volume of air through higher efficiency filters. You generally do not want to sacrifice energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family suffers from allergies or respiratory problems and needs a high MERV air filter, consider a whole-home air filtration solution that will achieve your energy and filter efficiency needs.
Filtration has changed significantly over the past several years. Early on, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to safeguard the comfort equipment itself. But (in the words of Bob Dylan) the times they are a changing. Belleville area homeowners expect their air filter to save loved ones from a whole host of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!