The Wrong HVAC Filter Can Cost You Money

HVAC Air FilterJust because a filter is available on store shelves and advertised as “longer lasting” and “more efficient” doesn’t mean that it will work in your system. The term “more efficient” might not even mean what you think. In the filter industry, “more efficient” means that the filter will remove smaller particles in larger quantities. However, these “more efficient” filters have smaller openings in them causing your system to have less total airflow. A variable-speed blower will begin working harder to make up the airflow which, in turn, consumes more energy. The energy consumption increases exponentially as the airflow restriction increases.

So what about the “longer-lasting” claim? Pleated filters do present more surface area so IF the filter material is the same, the claim is true. However, if the density of the filter material is also increased to achieve higher “efficiency” then the filter will trap more particles and will end up needing to be changed just as often. With a high-efficiency, pleated filter, the bottom line is that you will remove more particles from the air but you will use more energy in doing it and will need to change it just as often.

Other than higher energy consumption, is there a down-side to using “high efficiency filters? Maybe. If the airflow is restricted too much, the coil in an air conditioner will start to freeze up. If enough ice forms, this could lead to flooding or even damage to the compressor. The heat exchanger in a gas furnace can overheat causing them to trip out on a high-temperature limit or worse, crack. So how do you know if a particular filter will work in your system? Unfortunately, the information you need is not typically printed on the packaging. The best way is to install it and test the static pressure in the system. Our technicians will be happy to help you with this test during your Fall tune-up.