How to Choose the Right Air Filter For Your Air Conditioning or Furnace

Have you ever looked into a topic that you thought was pretty simple and realized it was way more in-depth than you expected?

That’s how many of our customers feels about HVAC air filters. At first glance, things seem pretty easy. Just get the right size for your air conditioning or furnace and you’re all set, right? Actually, there’s more to consider to keep indoor air quality at healthy levels and help your HVAC system perform its best.

Finding the perfect air filter can be overwhelming. Make it easier by focusing on two specific areas.

Choosing a filter based on Particulate Matter

HVAC air filters come in a wide range of products designed to catch different sizes of particulates. These particulates are usually measured in micrometers (also called microns). To get an idea of how small that is, there are 25,400 microns in one inch!

Floating around the air in our home, there are particulates that we can’t see but the air filter can catch. For a few examples, pollen is around 10 microns in diameter while combustion particles are just 2.5 microns around. 

When choosing an HVAC filter, you can look at the packaging for the Particulate Matter, which tells you the smallest micron measurement the filter can catch. 

Choosing a filter based on MERV rating

An even easier way to find the right HVAC filter for your home is with the MERV rating, which stands for minimum efficiency reporting value. This is a standard rating system created by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers.

With MERV ratings, the higher the number, the more efficient the filter is (meaning it is catching smaller particles). The scale goes from 1 to 20. But higher doesn’t necessarily mean better for you. For residential use, filters with MERV ratings between 5-13 are typically appropriate. If someone in your home has health issues, you may want to be on the higher side. Filters above 16 are most commonly used in medical or industrial environments.

It’s also important to note that the tighter the filter is woven to catch smaller particulates, the harder your furnace or air conditioning will have to work to achieve the right airflow. So that’s another reason why a bigger MERV number isn’t always better.

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There are other air filter rating systems, such as MPR and FPR, but to keep things simple we recommend focusing on the Particulate Matter and MERV numbers. 

Keeping a clean air filter in your air conditioning or furnace is one of the easiest and more important maintenance tasks you can perform. If you need additional help choosing the right air filter for your system and home’s needs, give the pros at Baylor Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. a call at (812) 425-8435.

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