Are more expensive models worth the additional cost at the hardware store?
Filters are essential for running your furnace through the winter months in Denver. But the number of filters available may be overwhelming if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. Ensuring that you select the right filters and change them frequently will simplify furnace tune-ups, reduce the frequency of furnace repairs, and extend the amount of time before you’ll need your furnace replaced. You have options in a wide range of materials, ratings, and pricing that can impact how well your furnace runs.
Types of Filters
Here are some of the options to consider when selecting a filter for your furnace and how they can help keep your home warmer and cleaner:
Disposable fiberglass filters are the least expensive and least effective filters on the market today. They’re designed to block large dust and dirt particles from entering your furnace. However, smaller particles, like pollen and mold pass right through.
These filters are so inexpensive that it’s common for users to throw them away after just one month of use. But the cost of using them will add up over the long-haul, making them more expensive than other filters overall.
Washable electrostatic filters use electrodes to create a static charge that eliminates pollutants, pollen and mold spores, and other tiny particles from your air. In fact, they can remove up to 94 percent of small particles and up to 80 percent of airborne viruses from your heating system.
These filters have a high initial cost, which can be a turn-off for buyers. However, many users don’t realize they can use them for a longer period of time than disposable filters because they’re washable. And they’re more effective at protecting your furnace and lowering the instance of repairs, which makes them more economical in the long run.
Pleated allergy (HEPA) filters are the most effective filters on the market today, capturing up to 99.7% of particles in your home. They use a dense mesh material that’s pleated to increase the surface area for filtration. This allows them to capture more tiny particles than other filters, effectively turning your furnace into a whole-house filtration system.
Allergists and physicians recommend allergy filters for their patients because they eliminate dust, pollen and mold spores, and other small particles that cause allergic reactions.
Allergy filters need regular maintenance because the filter collects dust and other particles within the pleats. You should change them about once a month just as you would disposable fiberglass filters. Unfortunately, pleated filters are considerably higher in cost than other disposables, which may put them out of reach for some homeowners.
Efficiency & Effectiveness
When looking at the different types of furnace filters, it’s important to check the MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating for each. Furnace filters have MERV ratings from 1 to 16, which indicates how well the filter captures and holds dirt and dust. The higher the rating, the more particles the filter removes from the air.
Check your furnace manual to see if your furnace has a maximum MERV rating. Some furnaces may not have adequate power to draw air through the highest rated filters.
When to Replace Your Filter
When you select the right filter for your furnace, make sure you verify how often you need to clean or change your filters. Most filters require you check them every 90 days or so. If it looks dirty, then it is dirty. And you’ll need to change it immediately.
That’s because a dirty filter will no longer be effective and may even be harmful to your HVAC system and your indoor air quality. A dirty filter can:
- Restrict airflow into your HVAC system
- Makes your system fan work harder
- Reduces air quality in your home
- Increases your carbon footprint
Buy filters by the case and keep them close to your furnace, so you can change it as soon as you need to. This will keep you from procrastinating the change. Plus, buying in bulk can reduce your per-filter cost.
Make sure to turn off your furnace before replacing your filter. And if you’re not sure how to do it, then ask a professional.