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If you or someone you love has allergies or asthma you know that any level of air pollution can trigger symptoms. A fun fact: Indoor air pollution levels are actually much higher than those outdoors and sometimes can even be five times as bad, compared to outdoor pollutants and allergens. Common indoor allergens that affect people the most are mold, pet dander, dust mites and pollen. The good news is that there is a simple way to improve your home’s air pollution by installing a better air filter for your HVAC system. Air filters are measured by their minimum efficiency recording value or MERV. There are four types of filters for homeowners to choose from. 

Flat-panel filters. Flat-panel filters generally have a rating of one to four MERVs. These air filters are not designed for allergy suffers, but rather focus on keeping the furnace running efficiently. 

Medium efficiency filters: Medium efficiency filters are pleated filters and designed to have a higher surface area. This larger surface area allows it to filter out more particles from the air. Their MERV rating range from 5 to 13.

High-efficiency filters: High-efficiency filters have MERV ratings of 14 to 16. As the MERV rating increases, the more particles the filter can remove from the HVAC system. This filter is more efficient than the pleated medium efficiency filter. 

HEPA filters: High-efficiency particulate air filters have MERV ratings of 17 to 20. HEPA filters are not recommended for residential HVAC systems unless there have been significant updates made to the system. The reason these are not recommended for residential systems is that HEPA filters are too efficient! These filters are so efficient that your HVAC system needs more power to the fan to ensure good airflow to the home, which reduces the energy efficiency rating of your home. 

Since filters that have a MERV score of 14 or higher can put added stress on your HVAC system, we recommend that the majority of residential systems use the medium efficiency filters. While it is always best to choose the filter that best fits your home’s needs, remember, it is just as important to change filters regularly!