TFurnace Filtershere is a time and place for everything in this world, including dirt. It’s a special kind of dirt that umpires rub on baseballs used at Nationals Park and Camden Yards. It’s dirt that provides the footing on the playing field for the Baltimore Ravens and the Washington Redskins. It’s dirt that provides the foundation for life as it is the base for growing our nation’s food supply. But when it comes to your home’s HVAC filter, you want to make sure dirt stays in its proper place.

The effects of a dirty air filter lead to airflow being restricted to your HVAC system causing it to be overworked and thus higher energy bills. That additional work by your HVAC system can drive up your monthly utility bill by as much as 15%! The best rule of thumb is to check your air filter monthly. Keep a closer eye on it during the months where your HVAC system gets the heaviest use (summer and winter).

Types of Filters:
There are many types of filters and it can be hard to breakdown the differences and know which one is right for your home. Here is a quick breakdown from Angie’s List.

Fiberglass air filters
Fiberglass filters are not the best choice for your HVAC unit due to the fact that they are very thin and feature just a basic flat panel surface for trapping air particles. Fiberglass filters were developed to protect your HVAC unit, not to improve indoor air quality.
Cost: Around $1 to $10 apiece
Pollutants Removed: Less than 10 percent of the air pollutants from your home.
MERV Rating: Between 1 and 4.

Polyester and pleated air filters
Polyester and pleated filters are pretty similar to fiberglass filters, but they tend to have superior dust-trapping ability.
Cost: Around $10-$25
Pollutants Removed: Remove up to 45 percent of the air pollutants in your home
MERV Rating: Between 8 and 13

Washable air filters
Most HVAC technicians agree that washable air filters are the worst HVAC filters you can purchase. These filters require extensive maintenance. HVAC technicians advise avoiding using washable air filters for your HVAC unit.
Cost: Around $10-30
Pollutants Removed: Easily collect fungus and bacteria, which can escape and circulate throughout your home.
MERV Rating: Between 1 and 4.

High-efficiency air filters
Often made from pleated filter paper or synthetic polyester These filters, however, are not very practical for residential use — hospitals or other “clean-room” environments use these industrial air filters to even remove bacteria from the air.
Cost: Around $45-178
Pollutants Removed: Remove up to 85 percent of the air pollutants from a home or building space. The filter fibers can trap very small particles of dust, pollen, mold and other irritants.
MERV Rating: Between 14 and 16.

Do you know your HVAC system’s MERV rating?

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, which is industry talk for, “how effective is your air filter?” The MERV rating was developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers and they gave the MERV ratings a range of 1-16. The higher the rating on a filter, the fewer the particles that can pass through the filter, but before you head to Home Depot or Lowe’s to buy a filter with a MERV rating of 16, do your research.

The higher the MERV rating, the smaller the area is in the filter for air to flow. If your home’s HVAC system is not designed for that type of filter, you could be creating stress on the system. Even with a clean filter, you could be facing higher utility bills, or worse, a complete system breakdown. HVAC filters with a MERV rating between 9 and 12 are usually the best choice for homeowners who want the best dust control possible.

When it comes to your home HVAC system, it’s clear to see the power of the filter. For questions on your home HVAC system or maintenance packages available for Montgomery County or Calvert County residents, you can contact us here.