What Do HVAC Air Filter Ratings Mean?If you’re like many homeowners, you may have questions about how often you should change your HVAC air filter and which of the different options are best for your home.

Change Your HVAC Air Filter Frequently

In general, air filters need to be changed at least every three months, and in many cases, more often is better. When an air filter gets dirty, it doesn’t let as much air into your HVAC system. This can reduce the efficiency of your system by as much as 15 percent, which in turn raises your energy bills.

What Air Filter Ratings Mean

When you buy replacement filters, pay attention to the MERV rating. MERV stands for Minimal Efficiency Reporting Value. It measures how well the air filter removes particles from the air as well as how well it resists airflow. MERV ratings go from one to 20, with higher generally being better.

To pick the best-rated air filter for your home, it helps to understand that air filters have two jobs:

  1. Protect the HVAC system from damage due to dust and other particles.
  2. Improve the indoor air quality of your home so your family is breathing cleaner air.

Air filters with a MERV rating of 1–4 are typically made of flat fiberglass panels that catch the big particles that are likely to damage your HVAC machinery, but don’t do much for smaller particles that might make breathing harder.

Filters with a MERV rating of 5–16 protect both your machinery and your family. Once you get into the 7–16 range, these pleated filters are nearly as good as HEPA filters. However, they’re generally cheaper and less resistant to airflow, which can allow your system to use less energy.

HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are rated 17–20. They’re the best at catching particles but also resist airflow more than pleated filters. Most HVAC systems aren’t designed to take HEPA filters but can be retrofitted to use them if necessary.

For more information about your HVAC air filter or any other HVAC concerns, contact Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing. We’re here to serve the Indianapolis area!

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Brownsburg, Indiana and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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