You don’t often think about air filters because they don’t break down or make noise, yet they’re an integral part of your heating and cooling system. They not only help keep your equipment free of the debris that would clog and build upon it, but they also keep the air you breathe inside your home clean by capturing particulates in the air like dust, mold, pollen, and pet dander

Air filters do an important job so it’s equally important to change them regularly, usually every one to three months, depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations. The beginning of each new season is a good time to change them because it’s easier to remember.

It’s also important to get the right filter for your needs. Not only does different equipment utilize different filters, but there are also specific types of filters for specific purposes. And as with everything else, there’s a “good, better, best” grade to choose from.

Good air filters

If you’re interested in keeping costs down, there are a couple of options.

Washable air filters

These air filters may be washed and reused. This is a good option for people who don’t like to generate a lot of waste products but be careful to keep them meticulously maintained. Also note, that they have a lower MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating. While they do a good job at protecting against large dust particles, they don’t work well for pet dander, bacteria, or smoke.

Fiberglass air filters

These are not reusable filters; however, they are generally inexpensive and easy to replace. They also have a lower MERV rating than other filters, but they are primarily designed more to keep your equipment clean than your indoor air.

Better air filters

If you’re wanting a higher-performing air filter, you’ll need to go to the next level.

Pleated and polyester air filters

These types of filters work similarly to the fiberglass filters; however, they have a much higher MERV rating. For example, whereas fiberglass filters remove less than 10 percent of indoor irritants, the pleated and polyester filters will remove up to 85 percent. This type of filter is good for reducing the dust in your home.

If you’re unsure about your options or would like more information, it’s a good idea to contact a local HVAC company who can tell you all about air filters, and which option is best for you.

It’s important to choose the appropriate air filter, change it often and regularly, and have it installed correctly. Airflow is important — for you and your equipment.

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