When folks in the industry talk about filter efficiency, our concern is with how good of a job each filter does with removing contaminants and particulates from the air. We’ve talked a lot before about the different MERV ratings and what kind of contaminants are removed, and finding the right MERV rating for you. But one thing we don’t always consider is energy efficiency – do different MERV ratings have an effect on how hard your furnace, air conditioner, or HVAC unit has to work to push air through the house? The answer is, “Yes, they do.”
The MERV scale is pretty simple – the higher the number, the more “stuff” it will remove from the air. A filter with a MERV 8 rating, for instance, is a good everyday filter, and will remove large particulates from the air and protect your HVAC unit from the damage that unfiltered air can cause. A MERV 11 filter is appropriate for homes with pets or people with allergies, because it picks up most allergens, including pet dander. A filter rated MERV 13 or higher is appropriate for people with asthma, and will remove the most contaminants from the air.
The Trade Off
It’s important, however, to balance the effectiveness of these filters with the corresponding energy costs. A higher MERV rating means the filter is more restrictive. It removes more contaminants from the air, but it means that your furnace or air conditioner has to work harder to push the air through your home. Using a filter with a higher MERV rating could mean that your HVAC system runs longer than it would with a filter with a lower MERV rating.
Which Filter is the Right Filter?
If you or someone in your home suffers from asthma, choosing a higher MERV rating is probably the most appropriate way to go. But if not, it’s probably not necessary to use such a restrictive filter. If you don’t have any pets, or only suffer from seasonal allergies, you might choose to only use a more restrictive filter during allergy season, when allergens are more present in the air, rather than all year long. Choosing the right filter is a balance between how much you need to remove from the air and how much energy your furnace or air conditioner uses to push the air through your home. At DiscountFilters.com, we carry filters from a number of manufacturers in a variety of MERV ratings, so we always have the right filter for you.