Forced air heating and cooling units require air filters, which protect the inner workings of your HVAC system from contaminant particles. There are many different types of air filters available, which makes it difficult for homeowners in Opelika, AL, and Columbus, GA, to determine the best HVAC filters for use in their homes. In our most recent blog, the technicians at Energy Savers explain the different types of filters and how to decide which is the best filter for your home, heating and cooling system, and family.
Types of HVAC Air Filters
HVAC air filters come in many types, sizes and are made of different materials. Below, we discuss the main air filter types that can be used in residential heating and cooling systems.
A fiberglass filter is made up of a layer of fiberglass material that is used to capture airborne contaminants passing through the HVAC unit. These disposable filters are the most basic type available and thus are usually low efficiency, meaning they aren’t able to filter out as much contamination as higher-quality filters and must be replaced frequently.
Pleated Media Filters
Pleated media filters use a pleated layer of polyester or cotton fabric. Because of their pleated surface, more area is available to trap airborne contaminants. A pleated filter is disposable but is more high efficiency than fiberglass filters, offering better removal of pollutants such as dust, pet dander, and mold spores from your home’s air supply. They also offer a longer useful lifespan.
If you want to eliminate the waste associated with disposable filters, the best HVAC filters for you may be reusable ones. There are reusable furnace filters available for use with many types of heating and cooling systems. They cost more upfront to purchase, but you generate savings each time you wash and reuse the filter. When it’s time to clean the filter, follow the manufacturer’s steps, and let the filter dry completely before replacing it. Reusable filters are typically lower in efficiency than disposable pleated filters.
Efficiency of the Best HVAC Filters
The efficiency of filters is measured by MERV rating, which stands for minimum efficiency reporting value. A filter’s MERV rating shares how effective the air filter is at capturing particulate matter from 0.3 to 10 microns in size. MERV ranges from 1 to 20, but for residential use, air filter efficiency should typically go no higher than MERV 12 in a forced air HVAC system.
- Filters with a minimum efficiency reporting value of 1 to 4 are the lowest rated filters for use at home. They offer some removal of larger 10-micron airborne particles.
- MERV 5 to 8 filters offer better filtration by removing particles down to 3.0 microns in size.
- MERV 9 to 12 filters are capable of removing particles 1.0 to 3.0 microns in size. These are the best filters in terms of contaminant removal power for use with your furnace or air conditioner.
Higher-efficiency filters may be available for use if you install a media air cleaner to work alongside your heating and cooling system. The air cleaner uses an air filter in addition to the one used in your HVAC system. MERV 13 to 16 filters can capture the smallest particles down to 0.3 microns in size.
Find the Best HVAC Filters
The best HVAC filters vary from one home to the next, as every family has different needs. As you shop for a filter for your heating and cooling system, the best air filters meet the following criteria:
- The air filter must be the right size for your system. Check the owner’s manual or the existing filter for the dimensions. Most residential air filters are one- to two-inches thick and come in a range of sizes.
- The air filter you choose needs to offer the efficiency needed to tackle the contaminants found in your home. While the filter’s main purpose is to keep the HVAC system clean, the best HVAC filters are those with higher MERV ratings which are capable of providing some degree of indoor air quality improvement also.
Air Filter Help from Energy Savers
If you have questions about the best HVAC filters for your heating or cooling system, don’t hesitate to ask our experts for help. We help you find the best air filters for your budget and system needs as well as indoor air quality concerns. Call us today to learn more!