Tips for Choosing the Right Furnace Filters
The Comfort Company
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Tips for Choosing the Right Furnace Filters

Want to keep your heating and cooling system as efficient as possible? Using the right furnace filter can help in a major way.

A low-quality filter won’t trap nearly as much particulate matter that flows through your system, which can reduce the operational efficiency of both your furnace and air conditioner. Low-grade filters also require more frequent changing, and if you forget and let the filters get too dirty, they can cause problems within your HVAC system.

High-quality filters, on the other hand, are designed to trap as much particulate matter as possible. They also don’t require changing nearly as often, so while they’re pricey, you get your money’s worth. But how do you tell which type of filter is best for your furnace?

Read on for a brief filter buying guide that will help you select the right furnace filters for your home.

Choose the Right Size

If you’re already purchasing furnace filters regularly, chances are you know which size your unit needs. But if you've never bought filters for your furnace and are looking to turn over a new leaf, the first thing you’ll want to do is determine which size of filter your furnace requires.

How do you do that? If there’s currently a filter installed, take it out and look for its dimensions, which should be printed somewhere along the outer edge. If you can’t see measurements, you can measure the filter itself or the air intake to find out which size of filter you need to buy.

Select a Filter With a High-Efficiency Rating

Most furnace filters feature a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) which indicates how effective they are at filtering particulates from the air. The higher the MERV number — it can range from 1-16 — the more efficient the filter is. 

Here’s what you should know about MERV ratings:

MERV 6-8

These filters are the lowest priced, but they’re also considered the bare minimum in terms of efficiency. If you purchase a filter with a rating in this range, you’ll need to change it very frequently and it won’t filter out large amounts of particulates from your indoor air.

Filters with MERV ratings at the lower end of the spectrum are not really appropriate for homes with pets or households with asthma sufferers.

MERV 8-10

These filters are mid-range in price and are the most common filters used in residential homes. They’re able to capture more particulate matter than the lowest-rated filters and can also capture about 50% of the mold, mildew, and pollen spores that float around in your indoor air.

Filters with a MERV rating of eight to 10 can be a solid economical option for households with pets and allergy sufferers.

MERV 11-13

These filters are priced at the top end of the affordable range. They’re efficient at capturing the vast majority of the larger particulates in your indoor air, as well as most of the smaller ones.

MERV 13 filters can also capture bacteria, smoke odors, and even some larger viruses. Overall, filters with ratings in this range are considered the best for residential HVAC systems.

MERV 14+

These filters are amazingly efficient, but they’re not recommended for residential use, and you likely won’t even be able to purchase home furnace filters with a rating this high.

Filters with a MERV rating of 14 and up are designed for commercial buildings, medical facilities especially, and because they’re so tightly woven, they can cause more airflow resistance than the average home HVAC system can handle.

Don’t Choose a Filter Based on Cost Alone

Although you can find cheap furnace filters, you really shouldn’t purchase them. And yes, even if you’re looking to save yourself a few bucks, you still shouldn’t buy the cheapest filters on the shelf.

Why not? Because they don’t work well, and if you care about your indoor air quality (you should!), cheap filters won’t help you keep your indoor air as clean as it should be. What’s more, although low-rated filters are inexpensive, they must be changed much more frequently than higher-quality filters. Ultimately, you’ll likely end up spending more than you bargained for if you’re swapping out low-rated filters as often as you should.

Opting for a high-quality filter — which will naturally be more expensive — will help you keep your HVAC system functioning optimally. Plus, going for the pricier option will help you avoid breathing in mold, mildew, and bacteria inside your home, and you won’t have to remember to change out the filter as often either.

For more tips on keeping your indoor air clean and healthy, check out our Homeowner’s Guide to Improving Indoor Air Quality.

The Comfort Company: Hermantown’s Most Reliable HVAC Service Pros

Spring is an excellent time to get your HVAC system serviced and ready for the summer heat, and our team at The Comfort Company is here to help you get the job done. We specialize in comprehensive furnace and air conditioner installation, repair, and maintenance and serve homeowners throughout Hermantown, Duluth, and the surrounding areas.

Ready to schedule service? Give us a call today at 218-231-4436 or contact us online with any questions or concerns, and we’ll reach out with additional information.

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