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Understand Air Filter Ratings: Choose the Best Type For Your Home

February 4, 2014 | Blog

Having the right air filter for the HVAC system in your Corpus Christi home is important. Every type of filter is different, so understanding the various air filter efficiency ratings and the efficiency of your HVAC system is key to ensuring you make the best choice.

Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) measures the effectiveness of the air filter when used in your air handler. Higher MERV ratings may seem better for you, but that is not always the case. The highest ratings will decrease the effectiveness of your HVAC system and could even put too much strain on the fan.

Common MERV ratings:

  • MERV ratings 1-6 are best reserved for older HVAC systems
  • MERV ratings 7-12 work the best with most new HVAC systems
  • MERV ratings 13-16 are generally found in hospitals

MERV ratings 1 to 5 have less than a 20 percent efficiency capability, offering only minimal filtration, removing particles such as carpet fibers, pollen, standing dust and dust mites. While, MERV 6 offers 20-30 percent efficiency ratings, removing finer aerosol particles.

A MERV of 7 or 8 is the better residential choice with an efficiency of 25 to 40 percent, which will remove small particles such as mold spores. MERV 9 and 10 filters offer 50 to 60 percent efficiency, removing even smaller particles. MERV 11 and 12 are the best residential air filters offering an efficiency of 60 to 70 percent, removing very small particles.

MERV ratings of 13 to 16 work at a 80 to 95 percent efficiency. These air filters are reserved for industrial and medical applications. Residential HVAC systems are generally not manufactured to handle this type of efficiency rating.

Keep in mind that the higher the MERV rating, the more often the filter needs to be changed. A MERV of 11 or 12 will be changed once every three months or less. This will add up in costs over time. Ask your local HVAC technician about the best filter for your home.

For more information on MERV filters, or other general HVAC questions, contact us at CCAC. We are the local experts in heating, cooling, and indoor air quality.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Corpus Christi, Texas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about air filters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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