Choosing the Best Air Filter for Your Home

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Your HVAC system works hard year-round to keep your home comfortable, and it consists of many parts, and the air filter is a small yet essential component. You might not give your air filter much thought, but it plays a huge role in keeping your HVAC system running efficiently and keeping the air in your home safe and clean.

There are so many air filter options that choosing the one for your home can be an overwhelming process. To make it all a little easier we’re here to show you the common types of air filters and the difference they can make in the safety and comfort of your home.

Filter Efficiency

The job of your air filter is to trap pollutants from entering the airflow in your home. These pollutants cover a wide range of particles, from dust to pet dander and other allergens. But, the rate at which different filters trap these pollutants is not equal.

In an effort to boost indoor air quality, The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning established an air filter efficiency rating system called minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV).

The MERV system comes with residential ratings from 1 to 16 (low efficiency to high efficiency), based on how well an air filter removes both small and large particles effectively.

It’s important to keep in mind that sometimes filters with very high MERVs (like 16) aren’t best suited for residential settings. When picking an air filter, remember to check your manufacturer’s guidelines on maximum MERV rating recommendation.

Types of Air Filters

The four main types of air filters are fiberglass, electrostatic, pleated, and high-efficiency. Below we’ve explained each one and included their average MERV rating. MERV ratings will vary a little based on manufacturer, so always make sure to check!

Fiberglass Air Filters

Fiberglass air filters are often the most affordable disposable option made from strands of spun together fiberglass. These filters are made to catch larger particle like dust, bugs, carpet fibers, etc.

These filters fall in the average MERV rating between 1 to 4 and will work to keep your HVAC system functioning well, but aren’t as useful for air purification as other options.

Electrostatic Filters

These filters use electrostatic cotton or paper fibers to attract and trap small particles magnetically. The MERV rating for electrostatic air filters ranges on average between 5 to 8 and can be a bit more useful for air quality than fiberglass filters.

Pleated Air Filters

This option is a step up from fiberglass air filters and even more effective than electrostatic filters. These filters are made of polyester or cotton paper and work better for purifying air and catching a wider range of pollutants, allergens, and smaller particles.

These filters have a much higher MERV range, from around 6 to 13 and are a better option than fiberglass air filters for homes focusing on air quality, and especially for people with allergies.  

High-Efficiency Air Filters

As their name implies, high-efficiency air filters are highly efficient and usually the most effective. These filters are designed to capture over 95% of airborne pollutants in all size ranges. Because of these advanced air purification functions, these filters are also the most expensive.

These filters can effectively remove the smallest particles, including tiny dust particles, pollen, mold, auto emissions, and more.

High-efficiency air filters generally have a MERV rating between 9 to 16 and are typically reserved for industrial or hospital settings. But, sometimes these filters can be useful for people who suffer from severe allergies, asthma, or respiratory problems. When opting for a higher MERV rating, just make sure to check your manufacturer’s guideline or get some advice from your local HVAC experts.

Reusable (Washable) VS Disposable Air Filters

On top of different types of filters, you can also choose between using washable or disposable filters.

Washable Filters


Washable filters can be used over and over again, but they require cleaning. It’s important to remember that even with consistent cleaning, over time these filters can become clogged with pollutants.


In comparison to disposable filters, washable filters are more expensive as they will need to be replaced less frequently.


Washable filters usually have a MERV rating between 1 and 4, and while they’re effective for catching larger particles, they’re not a great option for fine particles.  

Disposable Filters


Disposable air filters need to be replaced on average once every 30 to 90 days and can’t be reused.


The price range of disposable air filters can vary based on MERV rating, but they will almost always be less expensive than reusable filters.


Disposable filters are usually much more efficient than reusable ones, with MERV ratings as high as 16. These filters are better at catching smaller particles and are generally the better option if your focus is on air quality.

Maintaining Your Air Filters for a Safe and Comfortable Home

Regardless of what type of air filter you choose, maintenance is a big part of keeping your HVAC system running efficiently and the air in your home staying pure. If you need more help picking the right air filter for your home, contact the pros at AirXperts today! From air filters to all around HVAC maintenance, we’ve got you covered.

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