You’ve probably experienced the feeling of confusion when trying to select the correct home air filter for your needs. Which brand is best? Does the price reflect the quality? These are just some of the questions that make the selection mind-boggling. Let Boehmers/Cronin Emery Home Services by Enercare attempt to resolve your home air filter questions and allow you to continue enjoying the comfort of your home without concern.
Here’s an easy way to determine how efficient your current filter is (NOTE: Spare yourself a huge mess by conducting this experiment outside or with something below the filter to help keep things clear): Hold the filter horizontally, then with everyday table salt, begin to pour the salt through the filter and see the quantity that comes out the other side. If some or all the salt falls through the filter, then you can assume that the filter will let dust particles of similar size pass through. You really should upgrade your filter to something more efficient.
There are 3 primary considerations when choosing a household air filter; Size, Material and MERV rating.
1) Filter Size
Unless you have the proper size home air filter, you will never enjoy the full effectiveness your system and filter can provide. Simply look at the label of your existing filter to see the height by width and thickness, or just measure it yourself. The majority of home air filters are 1” thick, but there are a number of standard width and height dimensions, and some systems have thicker filters.
2) Material & MERV Rating
MERV ratings are the efficiencies of the filter on a scale of 16. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This number identifies for the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to contain contaminants.
To explain MERV ratings more impactfully, these are some typical MERV ratings and how they correspond to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so be sure to read the filter manufacturers’ information when shopping for specific filters.
Rating Average Filtration Efficiency
MERV 1-4 60-80%
Fiberglass, Disposable Panel, Washable metal/synthetic, self-charging (Passive)
MERV 5-8 80-95%
Pleated, Media panel, Cube
MERV 9-12 >95%
MERV 13-16 >98%
Be Careful About High MERV Ratings
While a higher MERV number may ensure better filtration efficiency, it is extremely important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also cost you more to operate your heating and air conditioning system. The higher the MERV, the less the air may flow through the system, and the harder the system may need to work. Your goal is to get the right balance between air flow, air filtration level and energy efficiency.
Consider it this way, the most efficient ‘filter’ would probably be a piece of plywood that would just trap ALL contaminants and all the air from getting into your Kitchener home. That's all-out air filtration, but would also be like living in a box.
Your best bet for most systems would be a MERV 6-8. A higher MERV filter should be used subject to the advice of your Boehmers/Cronin Emery Home Services by Enercare service advisor to confirm your system has the capability of moving the suitable amount of air through higher efficiency filters. You probably do not want to lose energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family deals with allergies or respiratory problems and the situation necessitates a high MERV rated air filter, consider a whole-home air filtration solution that will satisfy your energy and filter efficiency needs.
Filtration has changed considerably over the past ten years. In the beginning, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to protect the comfort equipment itself. The story is different today. Kitchener area homeowners expect their air filter to save children from a wide variety of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!