The performance of your HVAC system is due in part to the quality of your air filter. The role of the air filter is to allow air to circulate through the home. There are many different types of air filters, ranging in quality. You may have found yourself looking at the different air filters and asked yourself, “Does it really matter?” and the answer to that questions is yes it does!
When looking at the different air filters you may want to look at the MERV rating and understand what that means. Many people are under the impression that the higher the MERV rating, the better the filter and that is not necessarily the case. MERV, stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and it is a scale used to measure how effective air filters are at removing particles from the air. The ratings are done on a scale, with 20 being the highest, however the majority of residential air filters don’t rate above a 16.
MERV is a 20-point scale; higher numbers indicate that a higher percentage of smaller particles is filtered from the air. However, residential air filters almost never rate above 16 on the MERV scale, and in many cases you may not actually want a filter with a very high MERV rating. As mentioned there are several reasons why you might actually not want a MERV rating that high. One reason is that the higher the MERV rating the smaller the openings on the filter for air to pass through. So while it may be stopping more particles you are not getting as much air flow and this can also be harder on your HVAC as it now has to work harder to move air through the tightly woven filter. For this reason it might make more sense for homeowners to look for filters with a MERV rating of 10-14.