How Does Air Filter Quality Affect HVAC Performance?

October 8, 2015

If there's one HVAC component that a homeowner should pay particular attention to, it's the air filter. These simple devices impact heating and cooling efficiency, HVAC performance, and your indoor air quality. Here's how:

Air Filter Quality

The quality and efficiency of the filter you choose for your HVAC system determines which airborne contaminants are captured and removed from the air you breathe. One of the more common and popular filter rating systems is MERV, which stands for minimum efficiency reporting value. MERV ratings range 1 to 20, with MERV 1 as the worst efficiency and MERV 17 to 20 as true HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters. If you're the least bit concerned about your indoor air quality, look for filters with MERV 8 to 13 ratings. Filters in this range capture everything from common dust and pollen to dust mite parts, pet dander, mold, bacteria, smoke, and virus carriers.

HVAC Performance

The denseness and design of filters determines the pressure drop created across the HVAC system blower. Or, simply put, the higher quality of air filter you choose, the harder your HVAC system has to work to pull air through it, which requires more energy. So, before you install a MERV 16 to find relief from indoor allergens, you need to weigh the pros and cons of high-efficiency air filters.

  • The good: High-efficiency filters provide more healthful indoor air quality than cheaper filters. Additionally, high-efficiency filters protect HVAC parts from exposure to dirt and debris, which can lead to breakdowns and failures.
  • The bad: If filter efficiency is too great for your particular HVAC system, parts are going to fail anyway due to the substantial pressure drop.
  • The solution: Only install filters rated MERV 14 and higher after you've consulted your HVAC contractor. Your HVAC blower should be evaluated to determine its capacity.
If you have questions about which type of air filter is best for your HVAC system, contact us at Lozier Heating & Cooling today. We've assisted residents of Greater Des Moines with issues related to HVAC performance and indoor air quality for more than 100 years! Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Des Moines, Iowa area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). Credit/Copyright Attribution: "Natale Matteo/Shutterstock"