How Does Your Air Filter Affect Furnace Efficiency?

small_3355569230One thing that we constantly like to remind St. Louis area homeowners of is that their air filters can have serious impacts on how efficiently their furnaces run. Today we’re going to talk about two different components of furnace filter efficiency: how the efficiency of a furnace filter is rated and how an air filter can directly impact the performance and efficiency of your heating system!

How is furnace filter efficiency measured?

When we talk about the “efficiency” of an air filter, we’re referencing how effective a given filter is at trapping airborne particles from your home’s air. You can identify the efficiency of an air filter by looking at its MERV rating, which is a scale between 1 and 16 where a higher number represents a higher efficiency filter. Although a filter with a higher MERV rating will provide better protection for your home’s air than a filter with a lower MERV rating, as you’ll see below it can also have an impact on the performance of your furnace.

How can your air filter affect the efficiency of your furnace?

  • High MERV ratings can restrict airflow. For the most part, filters are able to get high MERV ratings by using denser material. However, a denser filter can make it harder for your furnace to push air through, which can decrease your system’s efficiency. Consult your furnace’s manual or give us a call at Jerry Kelly to determine how high of a MERV rating your particular furnace is designed to handle. In addition, consider options like a pleated filter or a whole house air cleaner that provide good protection without restricting airflow.
  • Dirt buildup will significantly lower your furnace’s efficiency. An air filter accumulates more and more dirt the longer that it is in use. Eventually, your filter will accumulate so much dirt that it will block your furnace’s airflow and significantly impact your system’s efficiency. You can avoid this by checking and/or changing your air filter once per month (and sign up for Jerry Kelly’s free email reminders so you’ll never forget).
  • A dirty filter allows dirt to build up on your furnace. Another side effect of a clogged filter is that your home’s air will bypass your filter and allow dirt to build up on various components of your furnace. This will lead to efficiency problems, in addition to increasing the likelihood of your furnace developing safety issues.

If you have any questions about furnace filter efficiency, or if you’d like a heating system serviced or installed in your home, contact Jerry Kelly, your St. Louis area heating and cooling contractor. We provide service all over the St. Louis area, including towns like St. Peters, Town and Country and Weldon Spring.

photo credit: Steven Vance via photopin cc

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