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While it’s among the cheapest parts in your home’s central cooling and heating system, the air filter plays a major role in energy efficiency, comfort and air quality. That’s why it’s important to choose the right air filter for your HVAC system and home.

What Does an Air Filter Do?

That’s easy; it filters the air. But in terms of how it functions in the overall process of conditioning household air, that’s a bit more involved. The air filter is typically fitted into a slot near where the home’s return ductwork enters the furnace, or A/C or heat pump air handler. It filters out particulates such as pet dander and hair, dust mites, pollen, carpet and clothing fibers, mold spores, and other constituents of household dust.

You get two main benefits of efficient air filtration in your HVAC system:

  • Protection: When particulates are removed by the filter, they can’t accumulate on sensitive parts in your furnace or A/C, causing friction and eroding efficiency and performance.
  • Air quality: When the filter removes contaminants from indoor air, they can’t circulate in the house, threatening the health and comfort of household occupants.
Shopping for an Effective Air Filter

Look for the MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) number when shopping for air filters. The numbers run from MERV 1 all the way to 20, with the higher numbers reflecting better efficiency. For standard residential use, the MERV 8-14 range offers a good compromise between air-cleaning ability and airflow maintenance. Once you get into the higher values, the filters begin impeding airflow. If your HVAC equipment has to work harder to blow air through the system, you’ll see a number of negative effects on energy efficiency, home comfort and wear on the equipment.

After choosing a filter, remember to inspect it every month, and when it looks dirty, change it. A dirty filter can cause just as many problems as an inefficient one.

For more help choosing the right filter for your home’s central HVAC system, please contact us at NisAir Air Conditioning & Heating, serving Martin, St. Lucie, Palm Beach, and Indian River counties.