High Efficiency Air Filters: Are They Worth the Extra Money?

An HVAC system’s air filter is more important than many people might think. Filters keep your cooling and heating equipment from becoming compromised by dirt and debris, and they are a vital line of defense against allergens in the home. For these reasons, consider your air filter choices carefully.

What are high efficiency air filters?

Air filters are rated according to their ability to trap common airborne particles such as pollen, dirt and mold spores. Medium to high efficiency filters will trap most of these particles, keeping your HVAC system cleaner and your air quality purer. The highest efficiency filters are rated MERV 13 and above (MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Rating Value, with the higher numbers being able to capture smaller particles). In most homes, a medium efficiency filter will provide a good balance between keeping the air clean and maintaining smooth airflow.

Medium and high efficiency filters are often pleated. This design provides a larger area for capturing particles, plus more area to allow for airflow.

System compatibility

Before considering filters rated MERV 13 or higher, speak to an HVAC professional about compatibility with your HVAC equipment. Just as a thick, tightly woven jacket keeps a cold winter wind from reaching your skin, the thicker, tightly woven high efficiency filters may impede airflow in your HVAC system, making the equipment work harder and leading to breakdowns. MERV 8-12 filters are often a wise choice.

The differences between high efficiency filters and less expensive options

Standard single-panel, flat fiberglass filters are typically rated MERV 1-4. These only stop particles larger than 10 microns. While they will keep large debris out of your HVAC system, they will have little effect on air quality. Many particles of dust, mold spores and other harmful agents will easily pass through. Although flat fiberglass filters are cheap, using them can compromise your air quality.

For more information about high efficiency air filters and other issues regarding home comfort and air quality, please contact us at HVAC & Plumbing Unlimited. We serve customers throughout Northern Virginia.