Choosing the Right Air Filter for Your Home

When it comes to choosing the right air filter for your home, there are a few key factors to consider. Size, MERV rating, and material are the three main factors that will help you determine the best filter for your needs. It's important to understand that a filter with a higher MERV rating can provide better filtration efficiency, but it can also cost more to operate your furnace and air conditioning system. To start, turn off the oven and remove the existing oven filter.

Look for an arrow on the filter that indicates the direction of the air flow and draw it on the outside of the oven with a permanent marker. Note the size of the oven filter, which will be printed on the cardboard frame. When selecting a replacement air filter, it's helpful to know that there are different levels of quality available. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, and a higher value means particle filtration will be more effective.

MERV ratings range from one to 20, but values of 13 or higher are generally not designed for use in domestic HVAC systems. Ratings one to four are excellent for use in window air conditioning units, while ratings five to eight provide good domestic filtration and ratings nine to 12 provide superior filtration. Flat panel filters made of synthetic material are somewhat more efficient than 1-inch disposable fiberglass filters that come standard in most home heating and cooling systems. Pleated filters are also disposable, but last longer than flat filter types and have a larger surface area and density which allows them to trap tiny particles that you might inhale.

Because choosing the right air filter is both about cost-effectiveness and efficiency, MERV 7 and 8 filters are usually the best option for most homes. However, if you want to improve air quality, denser filters can slightly help with this. It's important to note that high MERV filters can restrict airflow, affecting indoor air pressure and endangering your equipment. When selecting an air filter, costs aren't always indicative of the best MERV ratings so it's important to check the details. Additionally, home warranty companies advise against using high-efficiency pleat filters with a MERV of 14-20 as most residential HVAC systems don't have a fan motor strong enough to compensate for this slowdown. Overall, selecting the right air filter is essential for both equipment protection and indoor air quality.

Knowing your system's specifications and personal air quality preferences will help you choose the best filter for your home.