In any home with central air conditioning and/or a forced hot air heating system, the air is recycled several times an hour. Air is pulled into the HVAC unit through an air filter before it is cooled or heated, then pushed back into the home through the ducts.
The filter plays in important role, removing dust, allergens and other pollutants from the air before it goes back into the home’s living spaces. If filtration isn’t effective, allergies, asthma and other health problems may be aggravated. A filter that is dirty and clogged with dust also reduces airflow, forcing the system to work harder and increasing energy consumption.
Quality air filtration starts with a quality air filter. Air filters are manufactured for different levels of efficiency, and are rated according to their minimum efficiency reporting value, a standard established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers and known more widely by its initials, the MERV rating. The higher the MERV value, the better the air filter is at catching dust, pet hair and dander, allergens, mold spores, smoke and odors.
MERV Rating System
The MERV scale ranges from 1 to 20, with 20 representing the most thorough level of filtration. Hospitals and some industrial users that require ultra-clean air use filters with MERV values between 14 and 20. Filters for homes usually range from 1 to 14. Let’s look at the ratings for home systems in more detail, using information from the US Environmental Protection Agency.
MERV Rating 1-4
These are fiberglass filters or washable filters made from aluminum mesh. They are inexpensive but are only effective at trapping pet hair and larger particles of dust. Prices are as low as $3 each.
MERV Rating 5-8
These filter out finer particles of dust, most allergens, and mold spores. Prices range (roughly) from $4 to $10.
MERV Rating 9-12
These are the best filters you can get for your home. They trap all of the above mentioned contaminants plus the smallest dust and allergen particles, bacteria, viruses, and even most odors. Prices range from about $6 to $20 per filter.
Changing Your Filter
The best filter can’t do its job if it’s clogged. Most professionals say to change your filter once a month, but that’s a rough rule of thumb. You may need to change it more often if:
- you use your HVAC system constantly
- you live in a dusty environment
- you have numerous shedding pets
- a member of the household is particularly sensitive to certain allergens or airborne pollutants.
In such situations, it may be advisable to check or replace the filter as often as once a week.
Choose the Best
Ambient Comfort serves all of Gloucester County, New Jersey, with heating, ventilating and air conditioning sales and service. We will be glad to examine your A/C system and its filter and offer advice about improving the air quality in your home. Contact us.
Contact Ambient Comfort in Vineland, New Jersey, for service: 856-213-6586. We provide emergency services in South Jersey.