Each year the demand for efficient air filters used in homes and commercial buildings increases. With the increase in demand come more options to choose from and of course more confusion.
Why is the need for better indoor air quality on the rise? Several factors come into play; including the medical community's realization that indoor air pollution is causing serious health issues. The buildings we occupy become more air tight by utilizing better insulation, weather stripping, windows, doors, etc.
Statistics also indicate that the average person spends more time indoors than ever before. For some it is estimated that the time spent indoors is a whopping 90% or more. The bright side is that we have products available to render indoor air very clean and healthy.
Health problems related to human respiratory systems are on the increase. One might expect the medical advances to lead to less disease. In the case of Asthma the incidence and severity of the cases is getting much worse, not better. Many believe it is due in large part to indoor air pollution.
If we are to improve our indoor air quality and therefore our health there are a few things we should know. Let's start with some of the more common acronyms we see or hear concerning air conditioning and pollution.
– HVAC, Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning
– SEER, Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio
– LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
– HEPA, High Efficiency Particulate Air Filter
– MERV, Minimum Efficiency reporting Value
– ASHRAE, American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers
HVAC professionals are the ones you'll see when your system needs repair or replacement. While new systems are quite expensive that cost can be offset by lower energy bills especially when replacing an old system that never was very energy efficient.
SEER ratings are typically found on air conditioners, refrigerators and other appliances and they indicate how energy efficient an appliance will be compared to other comparable appliances. You may recall seeing the yellow tags affixed to appliance in retail stores, they are required by law.
LEED is not exactly a household term but the organization will likely become more widely known as a result of the world "going green". In our case LEED recommends MERV 8 rated air filters at a minimum.
HEPA filters are almost everywhere including coffee makers, vacuum clears, water filters and of course air conditioning filters. These filters are very effective in capturing even the smallest particles down to .3 micrometers.
MERV ratings are provided on air filters to standardize the method of comparing air filter effectiveness. The lowest rating is 1 while the highest rating is 16. The old fiberglass filter seen for decades is probably a MERV 1 or 2.
ASHRAE recommends a MERV 6 or higher air filter. If you have been using economy filters with low ratings, a MERV 6 filter may be a good place to start. To confuse us all, the US Dept. of Energy recommends MERV 13 filters.
So now we know a bit more about efficiency, air filtration and the like, now we need to select the right filter and change it regularly. Unless your system is new and designed for HEPA filters they are not recommended. If you are about to replace your AC system and allergies and / or asthma are an issue, you would do well to select a system which uses HEPA filtration.