The air filter in your furnace may seem simple, but there are a wide variety of options available when you need a replacement. Filters are rated according to their MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value), which is a good measure of how well they can remove particles from the air. Different types of filters generally have different MERV ratings, which range from 1 (low) to 20 (high).
- Flat-paneled fiberglass: These are the cheapest filters with the lowest MERV ratings. They fit in most systems and are acceptable if you don’t have allergies or breathing conditions like asthma. These keep the system fairly clean, but don’t have a significant impact on the air quality.
- Pleated filters: The next step up is pleated polyester or cotton filters. The main benefit of this upgrade is that they can help clean the air by removing small particles like dust mites and mold spores. Because they filter out these particles, you must change them regularly or risk clogs. Secondly, the high MERV rating means that it also has a higher resistance to air, which can lower the efficiency of your system.
- Electrostatic filters: These are solid mid-range filters that trap most small particles. These filters may need to be custom fitted for your system, which can have a dramatic effect on the price. There are both disposable and washable options available, although the reusable ones will be more expensive up front.
- HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters: These filters will keep your air quality at a high level. They are much thicker than other filters and you will typically need a furnace designed for them. It is possible to alter your furnace’s filter housing to accommodate HEPA filters, but it is expensive.
To decide on which type of furnace filter is best for your home, consider how important your furnace’s filter is to your indoor air quality. If you have a separate filtration system or are on a tight budget, fiberglass or pleated filters are a suitable choice.
Contact Stack Heating and Cooling for professional help choosing a furnace filter for your Northeast Ohio home.
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 furnace filters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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