Installing an air filter is a simple, DIY project that doesn’t take much time. Since it’s a pretty easy thing to do, it’s amazing that so many people put this task on the back burner. Buying an air filter these days is not as easy as it was in days gone by. There are so many options out there that it might be confusing to the untrained homeowner.
A good filter must sufficiently clean the air in your home. It must help keep allergies at bay by trapping mold spores, pet dander, and pollen. You don’t want to reduce the efficiency of your HVAC system, so you must ensure that you find one that is not only effective in filtration but also is efficient for your system.
If you have a problem remembering to change your filter, then you might want to choose a model that only requires changing a couple of times a year. If this seems like a lot to take in and you’re feeling overwhelmed, then here are some of the best filters on the market.
Air filters do double duty. Not only do they shield the furnace from dust and debris that can cause it to malfunction, but they also remove impurities from the air to boost the air quality in your home. Floating in your home every day are microscopic particles that can hinder your breathing and health, such as lint, dust mites, mold, pollen, pet dander, smoke, cold viruses, smog and bacteria. Even if you clean germs and dirt you can see, you still need a good filter to protect your family from what you can’t see.
What Is The Best Air Filter For Your Furnace – Buying Guide
This buying guide will clue you into the main features to look for when choosing a filter for your furnace. If your HVAC system also performs cooling, the filter will also work with your air conditioner.
- WHAT IS AN AIR FILTER?
A filter is a medium made of synthetic or natural materials that goes into the return air duct of a furnace to block hair and other contaminants from going into the blower fan that is used to circulate heat and air throughout the home or business. After the HVAC system pulls in fresh air, the filter will cleanse the air of intruding particles before the air is dispersed through the home.
Filters come in a range of materials, including cotton, fiberglass, polyester, polyurethane and beverage board. Some filters are framed in cardboard or steel.
Fiberglass filters are the cheapest and most disposable but remove the least amount of air particles and do a very poor job with tiny particles. They are mostly used to remove debris but cannot trap pollen, mold and other allergens. Thus, fiberglass filters are known to exacerbate allergies. This is not recommended for families with sensitive noses.
Cotton filters are highly efficient and do a great job removing even the smallest particles.
Polyurethane and polyester filters are also very successful at removing most contaminants. Plus, they are durable and reusable.
Some filters, like many fiberglass varieties, are flat. Others look like accordions and have pleats. Pleats are valuable because they add to the surface area of a filter, which enables the trapping of more germs and dirt. Some filters have as few as six pleats while others have as many as 24. A filter with a moderate number of pleats, such as 12, can be very beneficial for a standard home.
The manual of your furnace will let you know the size of the filter that can fit in your built-in filter box or rack. You need to note three numbers to take with you when shopping: the thickness, width and height for your filter.
Most filters are sold in pre-made sizes for convenience. However, you can also buy long rolls or large squares of filter material and cut them to size with scissors or a knife. This is can save you lots of money.
The cut-to-size filters do not need frames because they are usually made of sturdy material, such as coconut husk fiber, fiberglass or a synthetic medium. One drawback is that most rolls of filter will not have pleats.
- DISPOSABLE vs. WASHABLE
Decide whether you want to regularly spend money to replace filters or regularly wash and reuse a filter. Most disposable filters have to be replaced every three months. Although some premium ones will last 12 months.
Reusable filters, which can cost four to five times as much as disposable ones, can be washed with a water hose and detergent every three months to be used again and again. A good reusable filter comes with at least a 10-year warranty and often will last the lifetime of your furnace, making it a good investment. However, some families do not want the hassle of constantly washing a filter, especially since it is usually done outside.
A bonus is that the reusable filters are good for the environment because they produce less waste.
- MERV RATING
MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and is the system that measures just how effective a filter is.
All filters are rated on a scale of 1 to 16 for residential purposes. Hospitals and other locations that need the highest filtration are rated on a scale from 1 to 20. The higher the number, the more effective a filter is.
However, don’t think the highest number is always best for your home. A filter rated at 16 will be so good at blocking contaminants that it might also block too much air from your furnace and strain it.
A rating of 11 to 12 is sufficient for most homes and not overly restrictive. Filters rated 9 to 12 on the MERV scale will catch 85 percent of the largest particles in the air, including dust, mold, hair, dander and lead particles. Filters with ratings from 13 to 16 and have a 90 percent efficiency rate or better with large particles and at least a 75 percent success rate with the smallest ones. Only get these highly restrictive filters if your furnace guide recommends them.
- CARBON FILTERS
Some filters are laced with powdered activated charcoal or carbon granules, which are able to trap and remove odors from the atmosphere. This might be useful to families who have smells in the home due to pets, tobacco smoking or wood-burning fireplaces.
Carbon filtration can also absorb cooking odors, bathroom odors, mildew, chemical smells from cleansers and paint fumes to help your home maintain a pleasant smell.
- HYPOALLERGENIC and HEPA FILTERS
Filters labeled hypoallergenic or anti-allergen promise to get rid of the most common allergens such as dander, mold, pollen, smoke and dust mites.
Many filters are labeled HEPA instead of hypoallergenic. HEPA, which stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air filter, is a highly effective type of filter that removes 98 to 99 percent of allergens and particles.
The design of a HEPA filter uses direct impact, sieves, diffusion and interception to trap most ultrafine particles as small as 0.3 microns that other filters might miss. If someone in your home suffers from asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or allergies, a HEPA filter or anti-allergen filter will remove the airborne irritants that would make their conditions worse. Anti-allergen filters can reduce wheezing, coughing and difficulty breathing; however, irritants on surfaces still have to be cleaned regularly as filters only trap airborne particles.
- ELECTROSTATIC FILTERS
Filters boasting electrostatic qualities will use positive static electric charges to pull in more particles, similar to the way a magnet will pull in metals. They are usually reusable and must be washed every few months. A complaint about electrostatic filters is that they block more air than other filters and do a poor job of trapping mold spores. In fact, some reports suggest that the static electricity can cause mold spores to stick to air ducts once they pass through the filter after becoming charged.
What Is The Best Air Filter For Your Furnace – Reviews
1) Filtrete Smart Air Filter
Things have certainly progressed when it comes to filters. This is a Bluetooth enabled air filter that lets you track the lifespan of the device. Some people waste money because they change their filters out too early. However, with this technologically based unit, there’s no need to worry.
The Filtrete Smart Air filter can quickly identify any changes in air pressure, so it lets you know when your home’s airflow has been compromised. You can monitor your efficiency by merely connecting with an app. This filter uses 3M technology and allows you to check on several locations with the click of a button. If you operate rental properties, then you can track all the filters at once.
Who would have guessed a filter would be a smart device that can really help with your bottom line. The best thing about this company is that they offer one of the highest standards on the market for your home’s filtration. They redefine the concept of cleaner air by giving you a product that exceeds consumer expectations. Additionally, these have a MPR 1500 rating for air purification.
With thousands of reviews, customers rate this filter with a 4.7 out of 5 stars. Since it’s considered the gold standard in the industry, it’s no wonder it has such favorable evaluations. Many have claimed that their allergies have improved as well as the dust inside their home has dramatically diminished. If you don’t like the smart technology feature, you have the option to turn it off. The bottom line is that this filter is being highly praised for keeping homes cleaner and lowering utility costs with its efficient air control.
2) FilterBuy Pleated AC Furnace Air Filter
FilterBuy pleated AC furnace air filter is designed to last up to three months. The company has been in business since 1958 and has a superior reputation in the industry. These filters can excel in temperatures that exceed 200° F as they are built strong to last long. They come in a package of four, and they have a MERV 13 rating. They can easily capture micro amounts of pollen and dust with ease. Additionally, they are very effective at capturing bacteria, mold spores, and cigarette smoke.
These filters can be used in either a commercial or a residential setting. They are proudly made in the USA, and they have 100 percent American made components. The company uses synthetic media rather than the standard industry cotton. This allows it to have a higher rate of efficiency and collect more pollutants from the air.
Consumers give these filters 4.2 out of 5 stars. One customer stated that he had terrible allergies and lived in a basement apartment. He taped one of these filters to the back of a box fan. He was amazed at the impurities he picked up from the air. His dust and pet dander issues were quickly resolved with this filter using a homemade device. Other customers rave about the incredible difference they see in using these air filters over others on the market. The price point is affordable, and the product exceeds industry standards.
3) Nordic Pure Baking Soda Air Filter
If you love the use of baking soda to destroy tough odors, then you should try the Nordic Pure Deodorizing AC Furnace Air Filters. Though they are unscented, they have added baking soda to ensure that the filters pick up and neutralize the toughest indoor pollutants. These filters have a MERV rating of 8, and they work great in all climates. If you want to put the hammer down on pollen, pet dander, mold spores, and other household allergens, then you should consider these filters.
Changing the filter regularly helps to support proper HVAC airflow. There’s no chemicals or fragrances, just the pure power of baking soda. It’s advisable to change out these filters every 30-90 days.
Many reviews on this product are from pet owners. These filters receive a 4.4 out of 5-star rating. Not only will your home not smell like dogs or cats, but it can also help to remove cooking odors too. Many consumers mentioned that they were concerned with the lower MERV rating. However, they found that they worked perfectly and kept their air quality just as good as the higher-priced and ranked filters.
4) Aerostar MERV 11 Pleated Air Filter
If you like to stock up on your air filters, then you should consider the Aerostar Pleat Air Filter 6-Pack. With a MERV 11 rating, it provides superior filtration. The filters are made with synthetic materials that are statically charged to collect and draw elements to the surface. It captures minuscule particles of dust, lint, mold, pet dander, and pollen. If you have family members with allergens, then you want a higher MERV rating to ensure their lung health.
These filters are designed to reduce the overall operational cost of your HVAC system while cleaning your air with tiny pleats. You should change these units out every 60-90 days, during the offseason, and every 30 days in high demand times. Filtration Group has a stellar reputation in the industry, and they use only products that are made in the USA and that are environmentally friendly. This filter is acceptable for either commercial or residential applications.
Consumers give these filters a 4.4 out of 5-star rating. Many users are pleased that they are heavier and have more pleats than competitor filters. The price point is another advantage as they are affordable and effective.
5) Arm & Hammer Max Allergen & Odor Reduction Air Filter
Arm & Hammer is a name that many people trust. They’ve been in business since 1846 and have created tons of products to neutralize odors in the home. Their furnace filters can easily outperform the standard fiberglass filters that don’t have an electrostatic charge. Odors are not a problem for this leader in the industry. These air filters can work for up to 90 days, and they have a MERV rating of 11.
Common airborne allergens don’t stand a chance with the power of baking soda. The efficiency rating is above 65 percent, which means you can breathe easier inside your home. Each crease in these filters has built-in carbon granules, which have an extreme capacity for absorbing and destroying tough odors.
Consumers give these filters a 4.5 out of 5-star rating. Many users are talking about how the baking soda neutralizes any odors and keeps the air fresh, even in a multiple pet home. Those that have asthma notice a markable reduction in their coughing, sneezing, and bronchial restriction. Others are shocked at how they stand up without collapsing, tearing, or being difficult to replace. The four-pack is adequately priced and has a superior rating for lung health.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- CAN I RUN A FURNACE WITHOUT A FILTER?
If you do, contaminants will build up inside your furnace and shorten the life span of the machine. This will result in you paying thousands of dollars to replace your furnace more often.
- WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T REPLACE MY FILTER WHEN I’M SUPPOSED TO?
Your filter will become so dirty and clogged that it prevents proper airflow. It will strain your HVAC system as it tries to force fresh air through the filter. The air in your home will be more contaminated. The stress on your HVAC system may ruin it and may even cause a fire. Plus, your system will use more electricity, which means higher bills.
- DO I HAVE TO USE THE RIGHT SIZE FILTER?
If you buy a filter that is too small for your filter rack, it will not block particles and contaminants properly. More irritants and debris will pass through the system and pollute the air in your home.
- WHERE CAN I FIND AIR FILTERS?
Air filters can be purchased in department stores, hardware stores, home improvement stores and online. Many furnace manuals have information for purchasing filters from the furnace manufacturer’s website or through mail order. Some stores will automatically mail you filters every three months if you sign up for subscription options.
- CAN AIR FILTERS REDUCE MY RISK OF GETTING SICK?
Bacteria and viruses plague the air in every home, especially during the winter when windows stay closed and heaters recycle contaminated air. While air filters cannot disinfectant doorknobs and surfaces, filters do trap viruses and bacteria in their air, including flu particles and germs that are spewed into the air from coughing and sneezing; this may indeed lower your chances of getting sick.
Making The Right Choice
If you’ve never given much thought to your HVAC filters or their efficiency, then it’s time to enhance your knowledge. When you have pets, family with allergens, and live in humid climates, your furnace filter is a lifesaver. Imagine all the things you would breathe into your body if it weren’t for the protection of an air filter. Do some research, learn the size your furnace filter your HVAC unit specifies, and order one of these highly ranked filters for your home. You don’t need to spend a fortune to get a well-designed filter that can improve your indoor air quality.
Once you choose the right air filter for your home, you can look forward to your air conditioner and furnace lasting longer because there is less dirt penetrating the system. You might also notice lower energy costs because your HVAC system is working less hard. The Department of Energy estimates that using filters and changing them regularly can shave between 5 percent and 15 percent off energy bills. Most of all, you can look forward to healthier air for your lungs and the peace of mind that brings.