Choose the right HVAC air Filters for your Raleigh, Cary, or Wake Forest homeAir filters keep your heating and air conditioning units working efficiently and safely, trapping particles like dust, pollen, dander, household chemicals (like paint fumes and hair spray particles), and tobacco smoke that might otherwise circulate around your home.

Beyond the obvious health benefits of limiting indoor pollution, there are financial benefits to changing your air filters regularly.  Dirty air filters reduce the airflow making your system work harder to push the air through. In addition, dirty air filters can lead to dirty coils which can affect the performance of your Raleigh home’s ventilation system.

Although It’s difficult to determine the exact cost of a dirty air filter because every home and HVAC system is unique, you can roughly estimate the dollar value cost of dirty filters by performing a simple visual inspection of your filter and compare it to your monthly cooling bills.

The table below gives you a general sense of what a dirty air filters may be costing you in additional energy cost each month based on lost efficiency.

Learn how to replace your HVAC air filters and save moneyPicture courtesy of 

Clean air filters do save you money!

The average Vero Beach home should have its HVAC filters replaced every three months. Families with pets, smokers, or allergies should replace their HVAC filter every 30-60 days.  But at the very least change your air filters every 6 months to avoid the need for a service call.

How to Choose the Right HVAC Air Filters

Choosing the best air filter for your HVAC system isn’t necessarily an easy decision. There are lots of options.  When making your choice, you need to balance efficiency (the number of particles and contaminates removed from the air by your air filter), air flow (so you don’t over tax your system) and your specific needs.

Here are some options:

  • Electrostatic air filters rely on electronic static or electricity and do not block air flow to your heating and cooling system. Because of the good air flow, your HVAC system is more likely to operate without issues such as clogging. Electrostatic air filters are not as efficient at removing air contaminates as other types of filters but if you have no allergies, this is an excellent choice for getting the most longevity out of your heating and air conditioning unit and its efficiency for clean air is over 90%.
  • Fiberglass panel HVAC filters can be purchased at any store very inexpensively. The “you get what you pay for” adage applies with this filter option. These filters trap the large dust particles which can build up  quickly causing airflow issues. These filters need replaced frequently to avoid breakdown and maintenance issues.
  • Media air filters are used most frequently by HVAC professionals because they are cost effective and reliable. But because these air filters are only sold by Wholesalers of HVAC professional supplies directly to HVAC industry professionals, most homeowners are not aware of them.  These filters work by having a large number of layers of fiber. Contaminates are stopped before ever making it through all the layers and without poorly affecting air flow.
  • Pleated air filters – are a very popular choice for homeowners. Some are almost as good as media air filters, but they need to be changed more frequently. They are available in sizes from one to six inches, although most homes require designs of two inches or less.   Because they are so readily available, durable, moderately priced and effective, most builders use these filters.  There are several varieties, including odor control and electrostatic options, wire mesh, etc.  Air particles land on the cover of this type of filter, as opposed to getting inside. It’s important to remember that the more the air is filtered, the less air flow comes through the unit. Therefore the folds in the design add surface area to collect the particles while still allowing plenty of room for airflow. If you have allergies, you can still use the pleated air filter, but need to find one with a MERV rating of 10 or 12. (see MERV rating explanation below)
  • HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) media stop particles and contaminates from going into the air system. If you have allergies or asthma this type of filter may be a good fit for you.  HEPA media removes dust mites, pet dander, pollen, mold spores and other household allergens while providing maximum dust removal. This filter is over 99% efficient and has more pleats per inch than the other pleated filters which increases airflow.
  • Activated carbon air filters are used for buildings heavy with smell. Gas, cigarette smoke, animal and garbage odors can be eliminated or greatly diminished by using this charcoal based filter. While they are not as efficient as some of the other options, they can eliminate or minimize the need to use artificial scents and deodorizers to cover up those odors.
  • Washable HVAC air filters are another option but their performance is limited.  An air filter’s performance in trapping particulates is expressed in the MERV rating. These ratings range from 1 to 16. A washable air filter typically has a MERV rating of 1 to 4 which is effective for larger particulates like dust and soot, but not appropriate if you are dealing with smaller particles such as pet dander, cigar smoke or hair spray.  In addition, they need to be washed regularly and must be put back completely dry to avoid collecting bacteria and fungus. This extra maintenance make them cumbersome to use.

Regardless of your choice, make sure to keep your filter maintained whether that means timely replacements or washing. Filter maintenance is the key to maintaining indoor pollution to a minimum as well as keeping you heating and air conditioning system working efficiently and effectively for you.

How to Replace your HVAC Air Filters

  1. Turn off your HVAC unit and then, remove the air filter. (Most HVAC air filters are located where the main air duct connects to the unit.)
  2. Install a New HVAC Air Filter.  
    1. Make sure that the new filter is facing the right way
    2. make sure your air filter fits the air return properly. You can try taping down loose fitting edges if you can not find a better fit. You want the air to move through the filter, not around it.
  3. Once the filter is installed, turn your HVAC system back on.


More Questions about Your HVAC System or Air Filters?

If you have any questions about which is the best Air Filters for your HVAC system or  HVAC Maintenance and you live in the Raleigh NC or anywhere in the Triangle, please contact Cool Change Heating and Air Conditioning by calling 919-457-2494 or send us your HVAC questions here!  We’re your trusted source for All of Your Heating and Air Conditioning Needs in Raleigh, NC and surrounding cities.