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MERV Ratings and Why They Matter When You’re Changing Air Filters

Checking your air filter every month and replacing it when it’s dirty will improve your indoor air quality, extend the life of your cooling equipment, and help lower your energy costs during the long Orlando cooling season. A dirty filter impedes the flow of air to your system and can cause expensive damage and reduced efficiency.

Choosing the right filter for your HVAC system is easy with the MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) scale, which tells you how effectively your filter traps airborne particles in your home. The scale ranges from 1 to 20, with higher numbers denoting the ability to capture smaller particles.

  • Filters with a MERV rating of 1 to 4 are very inexpensive, but do little to improve the quality of the air in your home, trapping only the largest particles to prevent damage to your system. Filters rated 5 and above are usually pleated to provide more surface area for trapping particles.
  • Filters with a rating of 5 to 8 are of good quality and are ideal for most residential HVAC and air quality needs.
  • Filters with a rating of 9 to 12 are better filters that will help remove more and smaller particles from your air to reduce allergy and asthma symptoms.
  • Filters with a rating of 13 to 16 are too dense for most residential systems, without modifications. For the same reason that they do a good job of capturing very small particles, they also may impede system airflow.
  • FIlters rated 17 to 20 are considered true HEPA filters and, for residential use, are used mostly in home air purification systems.

A high MERV rating doesn’t necessarily mean the best filter for your needs. It’s important to check the specifications of your cooling equipment to determine the highest quality filter it will accommodate. Higher MERV filters are thicker and can impede the flow of air to your system and cause as much damage as a dirty filter. Considering both air cleaning capabilities and optimum air flow is essential when choosing a filter.

For more expert advice about choosing and changing your air filter, please contact us at Rinaldi’s Energy Solutions. We’re dedicated to keeping Orlando area residents comfortable year round with quality service.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Orlando, Florida and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about MERV ratings and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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