Every HVAC system needs to have air filters — they’re the most important part of ensuring your home has high air quality. A perk of HVAC systems is the diversity in the kinds of filters you can have depending on your price point and what your home specifically needs.
Each filter is ranked on the MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) scale, which reports a filter’s ability to capture larger particles and the influence on your air quality. The rating helps compare the level of filtration and gives you a value to compare each type of filter when deciding to get a new one.
The most affordable filter you can get for your HVAC system is a fiberglass air filter. They are disposable, but they have the lowest capacity to strain pollutants and actually filter your air. This is especially apparent due to their low MERV ranking, which ranges from one to four. They work best as a protective layer for your HVAC system, not as a proper air filter.
If you’re prone to allergies and other air pollutants, you might want to invest in either another filter type or get an additional filter.
These are made of either cotton or polyester and are in a folded pattern to effectively filter out and catch pollutants. The more pleats the filter has, the more filtration can occur. Pleated filters are in the same MERV ranking as fiberglass filters, so you might want to consider getting multiple filters or upgrading to a different type.
Although they are more expensive than fiberglass or pleated filters, washable air filters can save you a lot of money in the long run due to their sustainability and reusability. Their biggest perk is that they can be removed from your HVAC system and cleaned, and then returned back into the system once dried.
Be sure to read the manual of your specific filter, as the maintenance of each washable filter does vary from brand to brand. Additionally, make sure that once the filter is washed, it is dried completely before returning it into the HVAC system. If the filter is still damp or wet, it can cause mold and bacteria build-up.
The MERV rating for washable filters depends on the type of washable filter, as they can range from pleated to electrostatic, which leads to a varied MERV rating.
These are electronic air filters that use static electricity to give particles and dust a positive charge as they enter the filter. This charge is released while the air continues to move through the filter, but leaves the particle behind, thus trapping the particles within the folds of the filter. This is one of the most efficient types of filters, as it blocks the majority of pollutants from being distributed into your home.
Some of these filters are washable, but it depends on the brand and manufacturer. The largest downside is that these filters begin to rack up costs very quickly, but they remain one of the most efficient and sustainable options. They have a MERV rating of 8-10, giving them a good middle-of-the-road choice both with affordability and efficiency.
UV filters, also known as “Ultraviolet Filters”, use ultraviolet lights to kill bacteria and viruses that enter into your home and HVAC system. The major draw to UV filters is their ability to protect you from microorganisms that are potentially harmful to your health. Their MERV rating is between 11-13, meaning they are a great choice for those with immune-response issues.
The only downside with UV filters is their cost — they’re one of the most expensive on the market.
HEPA Filter stands for “High Efficiency Particulate Air Filter”, and it is the best filter on the market for those who are prone to allergies and respiratory problems. HEPA filters are defined as mechanical pleated filters. These filters are highly efficient, as they remove at least 99.97% of dust, allergens and pollutants from your home’s air and earn the highest MERV rating, 16.
The U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends this kind of filter for those who are allergy-prone and immunocompromised. Like any other filter, they need to be replaced regularly, and they cannot be cleaned and reused like some of the others listed.
If you are in need of a new filter or want to potentially upgrade your current filter, contact the professionals at Champion AC. We can provide you with an HVAC filter recommendation.
Ben is a retired Combat Controller with the United States Air Force. He started Champion AC in 2007. Ben is originally from the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He is happily married and an avid fan of the San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Saints.