When it comes to preparing your home for winter, the health of your furnace should be on the forefront of your mind. One simple step many homeowners overlook is replacing the furnace filter. Not only do filters play a significant role in maintaining indoor air quality, but they also directly affect the energy efficiency of your system. While changing your filter may seem simple, it can have a big impact.
The filter in your furnace is a critical part within the system. While it’s main purpose is to filter dust, dirt and dander and other debris from your indoor air, it also affects how hard the furnace has to work. When you change your filter, you will notice the layer of debris that has built up. The longer you wait to swap it out, the more clogged it will become, which reduces air flow through your furnace. This results in your furnace working harder to suck air in and circulate it throughout your home. Think of it like drinking a water from a smoothie straw verses a coffee straw. We recommend regularly changing your filter every three months, which will help with air flow leading to your furnace running efficiently and prevent break downs.
Before you head to the store or shop online for a new filter, there’s a few pieces of information you need. First, make sure you know what the make and model of your furnace is. Different heating systems have different needs and parts. Also, take a look at your current filter size or look it up online to ensure you have been using the proper size. Once you know the size of the filter you need, the next step is selecting a filter.
If you’ve ever shopped for a new filter before, you’ll know there are a multitude of options to choose from. Keep in mind however, that not all filters are created equal. Just because one is more expensive than the other doesn’t mean it’s better for your home.
There are 5 common furnace filter options to choose from: Disposable fiberglass, disposable pleated, disposable electrostatic, permanent electrostatic, and high-efficiently pleated.
The efficiency of filters ranges from 1-20 on a scale known as the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values or MERV. Each filter ranges in size and budget, so how do you pick one?
Other than picking the right size, the other important aspect of a filter is the air flow. Many homeowners think that the best option is one that will block out as much of the dust, dander and debris as possible and choose a heavy filter. However, this is counterproductive. Many homeowners fall trap to the allergy reducing filters because they think it reduce allergens in their home. However, these filters try to capture everything in your home’s air, allowing very little air flow. This leads to your furnace over working. In the HVAC industry, these types of filters are known as ‘furnace killers’ because they over work the system to the point of repair or replacement. Most furnace manufacturers recommend traditional spun fiberglass filters with a rating of MERV 2. These allow your furnace to ‘breathe’, while blocking out enough large particles to protect your furnace.