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How To Find The Right Type Of Furnace Filter?

How To Find The Right Type Of Furnace Filter
Anyone who lives in a cold-weather climate knows how important your home furnace is. Keeping your furnace running at its most efficient ability is important to not only your heating bills, but also so the life of your furnace isn't shortened by having to work harder than it should.
A furnace circulates the air inside your home through an intake, passes it through the furnace filter to remove dust particles and impurities, heats the filtered air and then sends it out through the various vents throughout your home.
The furnace filter is an important part in the heating of your home and forgetting to change this filter on a regular basis can be detrimental to your furnace. Luckily, changing your furnace filter is a simple task that can be done by even the least handy homeowner.
A dirty furnace filter does not catch as many dust particles circulating through your home as a clean filter will. This can be particularly bothersome for people who suffer from allergies or asthma. A dirty furnace filter will also reduce the energy efficiency of your furnace, causing higher bills and possible costly repairs. In some cases, not maintaining your furnace filters can lead to dangerous conditions including house fires because the clogged filter doesn't allow enough air through.
In regularly changing your furnace filter you will save money, improve air quality and protect the moving parts of your furnace itself. Furnace filters are rated on a scale called the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values scale (MERV), an efficiency rating from 1-20, although most residential filters only go up to about a 12 on the MERV scale. A lower MERV rating means lower efficiency from the filter. When choosing a furnace filter, you must consider the type of furnace you have, the amount of money you want to invest in maintenance, and how frequently you want to change your filter.
Disposable fiberglass
The cheapest, and probably least effective, furnace filter option is the disposable fiberglass filter. With a MERV rating of 2-3, and a price typically under $2 each, this filter is about 1-inch thick of spun fiberglass. It may trap larger dust particles, lint and debris from clogging your furnace, but doesn't filter out smaller items from getting through. These filters are good for renters or those who don't have allergies or asthma.
Disposable pleated
A popular filter because they are relatively inexpensive and offer more filtering abilities than the fiberglass version, at a cost of $4 to $5 each, with a MERV rating of 6. These are constructed from polyester or cotton paper, and will catch particles like spores and mites. These filters are more dense, therefore add more resistance to air flow and need to be changed often so they don't clog or tax your furnace system, making it less efficient and more expensive to operate.
Disposable electrostatic
These filters contain self-charging electrostatic cotton of paper fibers that attract and trap small particles like pet hair. A MERV rating of 10 and a cost of roughly $10 each makes them middle-of-the-road in efficiency and pricing compared to other filter options. Good for homes with pets and smokers, these are great for standard sized furnace filters, but if your furnace requires a custom size, the cost can be high if you keep regularly replacing them as needed.
Permanent electrostatic
A somewhat deceiving name, the permanent electrostatic filter is similar to the disposable counterpart, however a removable, machine-washable center filter can be washed and re-used for six to eight years. This is a fantastic green option, reducing waste. The MERV rating is 8 and cost is $15-$20, which is very affordable considering its lifespan.
High-efficiency pleated
Perhaps the bar-setting standard of furnace filters, this offers a high MERV rating (14-16), and due to the thick size can only be installed in special housing. Costing about $100 a year, these filters are made from 4-5" pleated synthetic cotton attached to a metal grid. Because of the high quality of filtration, these are popular in hospitals, and for those who have respiratory or autoimmune issues.
Maintaining your furnace to the manufacturer's specifications isn't difficult, you just have to find a filter that is right for your family's needs and remember to change the filter on a regular basis. This small bit of responsibility can save you lots of money and wasted energy in the long run.

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