Air filters are intended to keep debris and particles out of the air we breathe. They trap these things so they do not spread all over our home. Over time, the quality of your air can become unhealthy to breathe in due to everything the filter has trapped. A simple and relatively inexpensive way to help reduce allergens, dust, dander and more in your home's air is by changing your HVAC filters on a regular basis. Clean filters keep air quality healthy and also help your furnace and air conditioner running more efficiently, saving you money on your utility bills. When replacing your air filters, there are many different options. If you are not sure what to look for, or what the different options do, you may walk down the aisle and purchase the cheapest thing you see, just to get out of there. Read on to learn more about what types of filters you can choose from and great places to buy them.
There are five basic types: flat fiberglass filters (MERV rating= 1-2), pleated filters (MERV rating= 10-13), electrostatic filters (MERV rating= 10+), HEPA filters (MERV rating= 17-20), and washable filters (MERV rating= 1-4). The flat fiberglass filters are the cheapest ones, but they are not very effective at trapping smaller particles. Pleated filters trap about 45% of debris. Electrostatic filters are very good at capturing larger debris but not so much tiny particles. HEPA filters are a little too good at their job- not only catching particles but also restricting airflow. And washable filters can be cleaned instead of replaced.
What is a MERV rating?
MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value. In simple terms, it tells you how effective an air filter is. It is important to understand that the number of the rating does not tell you how "good" it is. Instead, the higher the number, the smaller the holes for air to flow through. The MERV rating does generally affect how often your filter should be changed.
How do I know which type of filter I should choose?
This depends on your lifestyles. If you have sicknesses or ongoing illnesses in your home, kids and/or pets, or you are constantly going in and out, you will probably choose a different one than a person who lives completely alone and stays home most of the time.
What is the best type for allergies and/or asthma?
Probably a HEPA filter. Since HEPA filters catch the majority of debris and particles in the air, they are likely the best choice. However, it is best to ask your doctor to be sure before purchasing a filter.
What's wrong with buying those disposable ones?
There's nothing "wrong" per se, but they are the least effective ones. They are cheap- that is the allure. However, they are cheap for a reason and that is because they do not work as well as others. While having some type of filter is better than not having one at all, if you can purchase a different kind, you should.
Are the washable ones a good idea?
The funny thing about the washable ones is that they are actually kind of contradictory. Since you can just wash them instead of replacing them, they do save money. Here's the funny part though: they actually catch more particles and debris when they are dirty, meaning that when you wash them, you are messing with their ability to keep your air clean.
How can I save money on filters?
Air filters are available in bulk and purchasing in bulk can save you money. For instance, you can find a single filter on Amazon for $20. However, if you buy the four pack instead, you would save $15.
Where can I purchase air filters?
You really have tons of options here. You can purchase online from many different stores and manufacturers, and you can purchase them from your local retailer or hardware store. Three great places to purchase at good prices are Walmart, Lowe's and Amazon.