Buying an HVAC Filter? Be Sure to Check the MERV Rating
Regularly changing your air filters is an important HVAC maintenance task. Dirty, clogged air filters compromise your heating and cooling system’s performance, resulting in lower comfort and higher energy bills.
Replace your filter at least once every three months, but give the MERV rating careful consideration.
What’s the MERV Rating?
MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. A filter’s MERV rating indicates its performance at trapping dust and other pollutants. The higher a filter’s MERV value, the fewer dust particles and other contaminants can pass through. Filters with higher MERV ratings can trap smaller particles.
Most residential air filters have a MERV rating from 7 to 12, while MERV ratings from 13 to 16 are usually found in hospitals and medical offices.
Higher Is Not Always Better
You might assume that the filter with the highest MERV rating is best for your home, but this is not necessarily the case. Filters with lower MERV ratings allow more air to pass through the filter. If your filter’s MERV rating is too high, the reduction in airflow may strain your HVAC equipment to the point of damaging it. Generally, anything over 12 is overkill for the average residential HVAC system. Do your research and find out the best MERV value for your cooling system. Consult your owner’s manual or ask a heating and air technician for help.