Indoor air quality is a crucial element for any homeowner, especially if your household members have respiratory problems. The right air conditioning filters can make the difference between congested air full of pollutants and air that is clean, healthy, and easy to breathe. Understanding the different types of home air filters is the first step to getting the best indoor air quality you deserve. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHARE) recommends a filter with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating of 6 or higher.
Most people opt for a MERV 8 filter, which is more efficient than lower MERV ratings. In general, high-efficiency filters that are also cost-effective are best for homes, but other considerations should include whether there are pets in the home, whether mold or mildew is a threat, and how often filters should be changed. It's wise to talk to an HVAC professional before making any decisions about air filters. To help you gather information and weigh your options, you can compare the basic pros and cons of each type of filter.
HEPA FiltersHigh-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters are one of the most popular types of air filters.
People who live with allergies or other respiratory problems may benefit most from HEPA filters. These filters must be adjusted by a contractor to fit your specific HVAC system.
UV FiltersUV filters use short-wave ultraviolet light to kill bacteria and viruses. When air passes through the air conditioning unit, UV lamps disinfect it with germicidal radiation. UV filters are great for killing microorganisms that could be hazardous to health, including mold spores.
One potential danger of UV filters is that they can transform oxygen into ozone, which can be hazardous to health. Even low amounts of ozone can cause coughing and chest pain, while higher amounts can worsen existing respiratory diseases, such as asthma.
Electrostatic FiltersElectrostatic filters create static that acts as a magnet for dust and other particles suspended in the air. The magnetism is strong enough to prevent these particles from spreading throughout the house, making them one of the best options for those who need a filter that can combat allergens. An additional advantage of electrostatic filters is that they are available as disposable and reusable.
Washable FiltersWashable filters are an environmentally friendly way to save money.
The starting price of this type of air filter for air conditioning systems is high, but it should be considered an investment that will last for many years. The starting price is probably all you'll have to pay, since you can simply wash and reuse the filter over and over instead of buying new ones every few months. Washable filters must be well maintained to ensure that they work as they should.
Media FiltersMedia filters provide the same level of filtration as a filter with a high MERV content, but they do so without the negative consequences of airflow or static pressure. In contrast, media filters have a larger surface area, which successfully avoids significant static pressure and, at the same time, provides better filtration.
Multimedia filters are very easy to maintain and are great for filtering bacteria and other small airborne contaminants.
Spun Glass FiltersSpun glass filters are made from small cotton and paper fibers. These filters aren't known for improving air quality, as they can't work too hard and can only trap some of the dust and allergens. For this reason, these filters are not recommended for people who have respiratory problems and need a filter that improves indoor air quality. When it comes to choosing an air filter for your HVAC system, it's important to consider your needs and budget before making a decision. High-efficiency filters with a MERV rating of 6 or higher are recommended by ASHARE for most households.
However, if you have allergies or other respiratory problems, you may want to consider HEPA or media filters for better filtration. If you're looking for an environmentally friendly option, washable filters may be your best bet.