Lower or Higher Efficiency Air Filters? Is Paying for a Better Filter Worth It?An HVAC air filter’s efficiency refers to how well it can trap dust, dirt and other pollutants of a certain size. High-efficiency air filters are able to trap smaller (and more) particles than low-efficiency filters and can lead to improved indoor air quality. However, the higher the efficiency of an HVAC filter, the more likely its denser filtration media will impede system airflow.

Why Use High-Efficiency Air Filters?

Even if you maintain a clean home, the air gradually fills up with dust, cleaning chemicals, cooking sprays, formaldehyde and other pollutants over time. This makes your home’s air less healthy and could trigger allergies or other illnesses.

Low-efficiency filters are designed to stop only the largest airborne particles and as a result allow a lot to pass through. They do an acceptable job of protecting your HVAC system’s components from immediate damage, but allow smaller particles, such as bacteria and mold, to pass through and be distributed throughout your house. Some of these smaller dust particles could also build up inside your fan’s motor over time and cause it to burn out.

Surprisingly, another downside of low-efficiency filters is that their efficiency increases over time, as dirt and dust collect on the filter. Although your air might be slightly cleaner at this point, this blockage eventually will restrict airflow enough to burn out your fan motor.

Are High-Efficiency Air Filters Worth the Cost?

High-efficiency filters have two main costs. First, they are more expensive than lower-efficiency filters. Second, as mentioned, they will reduce airflow at the higher end of efficiency levels. This forces your HVAC system to work a little longer and may cost a bit more in electricity or fuel expenses. Most HVAC specialists advise homeowners to opt for a mid- to high-efficiency filter, one that does a good job of cleaning the air but won’t impede airflow, and won’t require system modifications in order to work in your particular system.

For more information about air filters, please contact us at Wolff Mechanical. We are a full-service air conditioning and solar provider that proudly serves Phoenix and the surrounding areas.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Phoenix Valley area of Arizona about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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