Choosing the Right Air Filter For Your Hilton Head Island Home

Just go to any home improvement store and the choice of home air filters can be dizzying. Which brand is best? Does the price reflect the quality? These are just two of many of the questions that make the selection mind-boggling. Let Stallion Heating and Air Conditioning try to help you de-mystify the air filter dilemma. 
 
Here’s an easy way to figure out how efficient your old filter is (NOTE: Do this outdoors or with something below the filter so you don’t end up with a mess): Set the filter horizontally, then with everyday table salt, start pouring the salt through the filter then see how much comes out the other side. If some or all the salt falls through the filter, then you know that the filter will let dust pass through as well. You really should upgrade your filter to something more efficient. 
 
There are 3 primary considerations when choosing a household air filter; Size, Material and MERV rating. 

1) Filter Size 

Unless you have the proper size home air filter, you will never enjoy the full effectiveness your system and filter can provide. Simply look at the label of your existing filter to see the height by width and thickness, or just measure it yourself. Most home air filters are 1” thick, but there are a numerous standard width and height dimensions, and some systems have thicker filters. 

2) Material & MERV Rating 

MERV ratings are the efficiencies of the filter on a scale of 16. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This number tells the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to capture contaminants. 
 
To explain MERV ratings more impactfully, these are some common MERV ratings and how they relate to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so be sure to read the filter manufacturers’ information when buying specific filters. 

Rating Average Filtration Efficiency 

MERV 1-4 60-80% 
Fiberglass, Disposable Panel, Washable metal/synthetic, self-charging (Passive) 
 
MERV 5-8 80-95% 
Pleated, Media panel, Cube 
 
MERV 9-12 >95% 
Extended pleated 
 
MERV 13-16 >98% 
Electronic 

Be Careful About High MERV Ratings 

While a higher MERV number may provide better filtration efficiency, it is extremely important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also cost you more to operate your HVAC system. The higher the MERV, the more restricted the air may flow through the system, and the harder the system may need to work. Your aim is to get the right balance between air flow, air filtration level and energy efficiency. 
 
Consider it this way, the most efficient ‘filter’ would equivalent to a piece of plywood that would just trap ALL contaminants and all the air from entering your Philadelphia home. That’s all-out air filtration, but would also be like living in a box. 
 
A safe bet for most systems would be a MERV 6-8. A higher MERV filter should be used based upon the advice of your Stallion Heating and Air Conditioning service advisor to ensure your system has the capability of moving the proper volume of air through higher efficiency filters. You generally do not want to sacrifice energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family deals with allergies or respiratory problems and the situation necessitates a high MERV rated air filter, consider a whole-home air filtration solution that will meet your energy and filter efficiency needs. 
 
Filtration has changed considerably over the past ten years. In the beginning, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to protect the comfort equipment itself. But (in the words of Bob Dylan) the times they are a changing. Philadelphia area homeowners expect their air filter to save children from a wide variety of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream! 

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