Your air filter is both one of the most important parts of your air conditioning system and one of the most forgotten spots. If you have allergies, if a child lives in your home and has breathing issues if you have a dog or cat that sheds a lot, then having a high-quality air filter could be the difference between serious health issues and great air quality in your home.
The MERV rating makes that easier for you. It is a rating that ranks the quality of a specific air filter. It stands for “maximum efficiency reporting value,” and was designed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, also known as ASHRAE. But what do the different numbers mean? And what do you need in your home? To get a general overview, keep reading. To learn more about what your home needs, contact Econo West Heating Air & Plumbing at (661) 947-2653 today!
The basics of the MERV rating scale
The lowest number on the MERV scale is a 1 and the highest number is 20. The lower range numbers, generally 1 – 4, are cheap, cardboard filters. For example, you’d likely find these for sale at your local grocery store. Most industry experts agree that a decent rating can be anywhere from 5 – 13. In fact, the EPA specifically stated that this is their ideal range for most consumers. These filters are easy to find at your local hardware store.
On the higher end of that scale, filters with MERV ratings of 7 – 13 can be nearly as effective as a HEPA filter, which is the type of filter you’d see at a hospital. HEPA filters aren’t typically used in residential systems, but they do have the highest possible MERV ratings – a perfect 20.
Is a higher MERV rating necessary for your home?
It all depends on what your family needs. Once again, if there are people in your home with allergies or other breathing issues, then you’ll likely want to pay a little extra to get a high-quality air filter. On the other hand, a MERV rating of 5 may be plenty for a family that doesn’t deal with breathing issues. Of course, the lower the rating, the cheaper the filter is – usually!
No matter what rating you choose, make sure you’re changing them regularly. Depending on the makeup of your family, this could be as frequent as every few weeks for families with severe allergy issues, while others could change it just once every one or two months.