Buying a Furnace Filter

Buying a Furnace FilterIt may not seem like it makes that much difference, but the type and quality of the furnace filter you use has a big impact on your heating costs and indoor air quality (IAQ) during the heating season.

All forced-air heating equipment uses an air filter to keep the components inside the blower compartment clean, essential for best performance and energy efficiency.

Filter Guidelines

Manufacturers follow rating guidelines for the air filters known as MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) that describe the smallest airborne particles that they trap. Least effective filters start at 1. The scale tops out at 16 for the most effective residential filters. As the scale increases, so does the filter’s ability to trap smaller particles.

Inexpensive fiberglass filters have ratings from 1 to 4, and the pleated filters start at 5 and go as high as 13. High efficiency filters reach 15 or 16. Sometimes manufactures label filters with terms like “good, better, or best” to describe their efficiency.

In the world of filters, a higher MERV rating isn’t always better. The fiber density increases as the ratings rise, and as it does, less air flows through the furnace filter. Reduced airflow harms HVAC systems and drives up energy costs.

Selection Guidelines

  • Regardless of the quality of the filter, the first selection criterion is to replace it with the exact size. If it doesn’t fit, it won’t keep your system clean.
  • The next criterion is to choose a filter that the manufacturer recommends. You may have to consult the owner’s manual or talk with your HVAC contractor to learn the highest MERV-rated filter you can use.
  • Identify any allergies family members have to dust, pollen, mold spores, or pet dander, and choose the filter accordingly. Many list their effectiveness on the labels for trapping offending particles.
  • Avoid reusable filters. They have low MERV ratings and if replaced damp, promote mold growth.

The furnace filter you use this winter will make a difference in your heating bills and even your health. If you’d like to learn more, contact C.R. Wolfe Heating & Air Conditioning, serving Middletown homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Middletown, New York about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about furnace filters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 845-367-4482.

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “lightspring/Pixabay”

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