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How to Choose the Right Furnace Filter

How to Choose the Right Furnace Filter


You’ve heard it time and again – changing your furnace filter every 8 weeks or so during the cold weather season can help your heating system operate at max efficiency, reduce energy costs, and all while delivering healthier indoor air. Regular cleaning or replacement means your filter won’t get clogged with dirt, dust, pet hair, and other airborne particles.

What you may not know is that not all filters are created equal. So, before you run out to purchase a new one, check out the several options available. You might find one that does a better job than your stand-by.

Meet MERV – MERV (minimum efficiency rating value) helps you select a filter based on its relative ability to remove pollutants and allergens from indoor air. The MERV scale runs from 1 to 20, with 6 to 12 being most often used for residential applications. The denser the filter, the smaller the particles it can trap. As such, it needs to be replaced more frequently. Check your furnace’s manual for a MERV rating best suited to your unit.

Disposable Fiberglass – Probably the most common of all, these filters are created from 1 inch thick spun fiberglass and do little more than prevent larger particles like lint and dust from clogging up your heating system. The average MERV rating is 2 – 3. Disposable fiberglass filters are inexpensive but not great at cleaning the air, so not an ideal choice for family members with allergies or asthma.

Disposable Pleated – Another popular option, these are made from cotton paper or polyester and can remove small particles like mites and spores. They need more frequent changing to avoid clogging your heating system. With a MERV rating of 6, disposable pleated filters cost a little more than average – some are also made from eco-friendly materials. However, disposable pleated filters can add resistance to airflow and put more stress on your furnace system.

High-Efficiency Pleated – Typically used in hospitals, these filters are made from 4 – 5 inch thick pleated synthetic cotton that’s attached to a rigid metal grid. With an average MERV rating of 14 – 16, high-efficiency pleated filters cost a little more but are great for those with respiratory ailments or autoimmune disorders.

Disposable Electrostatic – Such filters contain self-charging electrostatic cotton or paper fibers that attract small particles. Affordable, easily available in standard sizes, and with an average MERV rating of 10, they’re great for homes with children, pets, or smokers.

Reusable Electrostatic – Much like their disposable counterpart, they contain self- charging fibers that attract and trap particles. They also feature a removable and machine-washable filter that can be re-used for up to 8 years. With an average MERV rating of 8, they are more effective than pleated varieties and produce little waste.

Polyester – Denser than fiberglass, polyester filters block more airborne particulates and come in either flat or pleated versions up to 4 inches thick. They have a MERV rating of 8 and can trap up to 91 percent of common airborne particles like pollen and dust.

Choosing the right filter can be a bit tricky, so at first you might need to ask for some friendly advice. Here’s another idea for improved indoor comfort and air quality – contact Correct Temp for our preventive maintenance service for all home heating system types. It includes a filter inspection and numerous other steps to help keep your system in top working condition. We look forward to your call.

How to Choose the Right Furnace Filter