Most homeowners aren’t aware of how important the air filter is for their HVAC system, but the quality of the filter has a major impact on how long the system lasts, its energy consumption and your home’s indoor air quality (IAQ). A higher-efficiency air filter will cost a bit more than those cheap supermarket fiberglass filters, but upgrading is a sound investment.

Air filters carry efficiency ratings called MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value). The scale runs from 1 to 16 for residential systems, and higher ratings indicate better efficiency. In most cases, the maximum MERV-rated filter that should be used in a forced-air HVAC systems lies be between 4 and 8, or even 11 if you have newer equipment. A filter that’s too dense will slow the airflow through the blower, and one with a MERV of 4 or less won’t trap smaller particles that can build inside the blower.

Before you upgrade to a higher-efficiency air filter, check the owner’s manual or ask an HVAC contractor to advise you on the highest MERV rating you can use with your HVAC system. Filters that are too dense slow the airflow, which is as serious as running your system with a dirty or lower-rated MERV filter.

A higher-efficiency air filter protects system components from excessive dust, allowing your furnace, heat pump or A/C to run optimally and safely, with the energy efficiency you expect. Dirty components, such as a mucked-up blower motor, can struggle to heat or cool your home, leading to premature or frequent breakdowns.

Regardless of the MERV value of the filter you select, be sure to check it monthly and replace it when it’s dirty.

For more expert advice on a higher-efficiency air filter for your Cleveland area home, contact the pros at Stack Heating & Cooling today.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Cleveland, Ohio about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about air filtersand other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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