Have you been looking for ways to “go green” in your home? Are you interested in saving money on your HVAC maintenance? No matter what the reason, you might have found yourself wondering whether reusable air filters are right for you.
The truth is, when it comes to the question of reusable vs. disposable air filters, there are several pros and cons to consider. Here’s what you need to know about washable air filters, so you can decide for yourself!
Reusable Air Filters Are Good for the Environment
The number one reason why most homeowners opt for reusable air filters is that they’re concerned about the environment. To keep your HVAC system running as efficiently as possible, you’ll need to replace your disposable air filter every one to three months.
On the other hand, washable air filters typically last for five to ten years or even longer. In some cases, your reusable filter might even outlast your HVAC system! This means that using one washable air filter can keep between 20 and 60 traditional air filters out of the landfill!
Washable Filters are Less Expensive (In the Long Run)
When you see the initial price, you might find yourself asking: “Are reusable air filters worth it?” It’s true, you might feel a bit of sticker shock at first. A reusable air filter might run you $75 to $100 or more, which seems like a lot compared to a $15 to $20 disposable filter.
However, when you consider how long they last, it’s definitely a better value in the long run. In fact, some reusable filters come with a lifetime warranty. If you look at it as an investment, it starts to make much more sense.
Washable filters also come in a variety of both standard and custom sizes. You can order them online and have them delivered to your door. You also won’t have to worry about storing cases of disposable air filters in your home.
They Require More Effort
One drawback of using a washable air filter is that it takes more effort. When you use a disposable air filter, you just toss it away and slide a new one in. The whole thing takes no more than a few seconds.
While it’s not hard to wash a filter, it does take a little bit longer. You can rinse it out with a garden hose outdoors or clean it in your shower or bathtub. You don’t have to use any chemicals or equipment and cleaning your filter doesn’t require any special skills.
While water is sufficient, some homeowners choose to use a mild detergent or a spray-on cleaner, or grease-cutting dish soap. This is rarely necessary but can help if you have smokers in your home or your filter gets unusually dirty. If you do this, you’ll need to make sure you keep rinsing it until you’re sure there’s no residue remaining.
It’s important to note that you’ll also have to wait for your filter to thoroughly dry before you put it back into your HVAC system. Otherwise, it could grow mold or mildew, which would then flow the air ducts into your home.
Keeping your air filters clean is a critical part of your ongoing HVAC maintenance. If you don’t think you have the patience to keep up with maintaining a reusable filter then it might not be the best choice for you.
They May Be Less Effective
Indoor air pollution is a serious problem that can cause a variety of health issues. The whole purpose of air filters it to trap dust, debris, and pollutants so they don’t contaminate the air you breathe. So, the question you need to ask yourself is whether cleaning a reusable air filter really gets it clean.
Even if you thoroughly wash your filter, tiny debris particles may remain. Also, although reusable filters are good at protecting your home from large particles – like dust, they’re sometimes not as effective at filtering out bacteria, viruses, smoke, and pet dander. This is especially likely if your filter isn’t meticulously maintained.
When determining the effectiveness of an air filter, you’ll also want to consider the MERV rating. This a scale that indicates the size of particles the filter will trap.
Washable air filters usually have a MERV rating between one and four. This means it traps less than 20% of particles between 3.0 and 10.0 microns in size.
In contrast, disposable filters come in a range of MERV ratings all the way up to 16. This traps 75% or more of particles ranging from 0.3 to 1.0 microns in size.
Choosing the Right Reusable Air Filter
When you’re shopping for a reusable air filter, it’s important to understand that they’re not all the same. Electrostatic air filters have multiple layers of filtration media. As dust particles pass through the layers, they become positively charged and attach to the inner layers much like static cling.
High-quality reusable filters are made with multi-stage filter panels. They help ensure that your system gets proper airflow, which will keep it running efficiently. Many of these filters also have drain holes in the frame, which helps with a thorough cleaning.