Choosing the Right Air Filter For Your Austin Home

You’ve probably experienced the feeling of confusion when trying to select the correct home air filter for your needs. What does my system require? Is the more expensive products worth the investment? These are just some of the questions that make the selection mind-boggling. Let Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing attempt to resolve your home air filter questions and allow you to continue enjoying the comfort of your home without concern. 
 
Here’s an easy way to determine how efficient your current filter is (NOTE: To avoid a big mess, we highly recommend conducting this test outside or over a protected surface): Hold the filter horizontally, then using everyday table salt, start pouring the salt through the filter to see the amount comes out the other side. If some or all the salt falls through the filter, then you can assume that the filter will let dust that same size flow through. You should probably upgrade your filter to something more efficient. 
 
Home air filter selection depends primarily on three factors: Size, material and MERV rating. 

1) Filter Size 

Purchasing a properly sized air filter for your the U.S. home is important. Simply look at the label of your existing filter to see the height by width and thickness, or just measure it yourself. Typically home air filters are 1” thick, but there are a numerous standard width and height dimensions, and some systems have thicker filters. 

2) Material & MERV Rating 

Filter efficiencies are given a number from 1-16 called the MERV rating. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This number tells the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to capture contaminants. 
 
As a basic example, these are some common MERV ratings and how they relate to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so be sure to read the filter manufacturers’ information when buying specific filters. 

Rating Average Filtration Efficiency 

MERV 1-4 60-80% 
Fiberglass, Disposable Panel, Washable metal/synthetic, self-charging (Passive) 
 
MERV 5-8 80-95% 
Pleated, Media panel, Cube 
 
MERV 9-12 >95% 
Extended pleated 
 
MERV 13-16 >98% 
Electronic 

Be Careful About High MERV Ratings 

While a higher MERV number may provide better filtration efficiency, it is critical to understand that too high a MERV filter may also cost you more to operate your HVAC system. The higher the MERV, the more difficult the air may flow through the system, and the harder the system may need to work. Your aim is to get the right balance between air flow, air filtration level and energy efficiency. 
 
Look at it this way, the most efficient ‘filter’ would actually be a piece of plywood that would just trap ALL contaminants and all the air from entering your the U.S. home. That’s maximum air filtration, but would also be like living in a box. 
 
The default choice for most systems would be a MERV 6-8. A higher MERV filter should be used based upon the advice of your Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing technician to verify your system has the capability of moving the suitable volume of air through higher efficiency filters. You normally do not want to lose energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family suffers from allergies or respiratory problems and the situation necessitates a high MERV rated air filter, consider a whole-home air filtration solution that will satisfy your energy and filter efficiency needs. 
 
Filtration has changed greatly over the past several years. In the beginning, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to protect the comfort equipment itself. Today it’s a whole new ballgame. the U.S. area homeowners expect their air filter to save kids from a whole host of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream! 

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