Not all air filters are created equal. From the least expensive varieties that are literally translucent to the top-of-the-line high quality varieties, air filters come in a range of densities, fibers, and shapes to provide different levels of filtration for your HVAC system.
When replacing an air filter in your home, it is imperative that you first determine the correct size you need. Simply looking at the old filter should tell you the correct size. Or, you can pull out the owner’s manual or find the manufacturer’s specifications for your system.
Once you know the size you need, the next step is to determine what type of filter to choose. Most of the basic filters can filter out dust, dust mites, pollen, and pet dander, at least to some degree. But taking it up a notch to an electrostatically charged filter can provide more protection.
The next level up in quality is also rated for filtering bacteria and mold out of the air, in addition to the usual suspects. Check the packaging to know what kind of protection each brand and level of filter offers. The next level, usually made of rather thick material, can remove viruses, smog, smoke, and microscopic allergens from the air in the home, making the air much cleaner and safer to breathe as your home is heated or cooled at the same time.
Finally, the best filters can even eliminate odors. Most inexpensive filters are made of fiberglass or polyester and only capture the largest particles, like lint and dust. These are cheap and disposable. Some of the more high quality options are actually washable and reusable, though they do need to be replaced every two or three years. Pleated filters catch more particles with their unique shape, and are mainly disposable varieties. And finally electrostatic filters are charged with static electricity to attract passing particles like a magnet. Choose the best filter for your family’s needs and budget.