Most homeowners in the Sacramento area know using good air filters in their heating and cooling equipment helps to improve their indoor air quality. But did you know your filter choice also affects how efficiently your furnace operates?
For one thing, efficiency loss occurs when your furnace filter is too restrictive. This can happen when the filter becomes clogged or if the filter is too tightly woven to begin with. It’s not difficult to choose a furnace filter that cleans without sacrificing efficiency, if you know what to look for:
- MERV. A filter’s “minimum efficiency reporting value” is the standard used to compare air filters’ effectiveness. Most residential filters’ MERV ratings range from 1 to 16. In general, higher is better because it means the filter can catch more particles. But a filter rated from 10 to 13 is usually appropriate for homes and won’t interfere with airflow.
- Pressure drop, or filter resistance. This rating measures airflow restriction. A high pressure drop indicates greater restriction; lower is better for efficiency. Balancing pressure drop with MERV is key to finding an ideal furnace filter. Consulting an HVAC professional is helpful.
- Dust-holding capacity. This describes how much dust the filter can hold before the pressure drop increases, which may result in reduced efficiency. When comparing dust-holding capacities, be sure you’re looking at filters with the same pressure drop.
- HEPA filters. True HEPA filters have MERV ratings from 17 to 20 and will likely restrict your residential system’s airflow. However, installing a more powerful blower on your furnace could enable use of a HEPA or other highly restrictive filter.
- Other options. Many homeowners find air cleaners or purifiers to be more effective than air filters when combating allergies or asthma.
It’s more than efficiency lost to a bad filter — a struggling furnace will wear out sooner. Air quality will suffer as air isn’t properly circulated and filtered. If you’re unsure how your filter is affecting your furnace, an experienced technician can test your system for restriction problems and suggest solutions. Please contact us anytime at All Year Heating, Air & Solar for furnace filter advice.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about furnace filters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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