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Selecting the proper air filter is key to cleaning the air that circulates in your home. However, the different filter mediums are not created equal. We have provided some information on the different types of air filters starting from the lowest-performance filter medium, to the best:

Spun fiberglass matte mounted in a cardboard frame.

Probably due to its cheap price, this is the most commonly used filter today. Each filter costs approximately $1 each.

Flat paper matte mounted in a cardboard frame.

This filter is a significant improvement from the spun fiberglass. Each filter costs approximately $2.50 each.

Pleated paper mounted in a cardboard frame.

The pleats increase the surface area exposed to the flowing return air. The larger the filter area, the more filtering occurs. Each filter costs approximately $4 each.

Electrostatic medium in a rigid plastic frame.

These filters are designed to be lifetime filters and are often referred to as reusable filters. The air movement over the monofilament medium electronically charges the dirt, dust, lint, and hair particles that you are trying to filter out. Do not purchase this filter unless you have the discipline to clean it at least once per month (every two weeks would be much better). Each filter costs approximately $30.

Electronic air filter.

This filter is an attachment to your existing air conditioning unit that electronically zaps the dust particles as they pass through. This works very similarly to the electric bug zappers that many homeowners use on their patios back east. This filter requires regular cleaning and periodic maintenance by an authorized air conditioning technician. Only a qualified and trained technician should install this equipment. Each filter costs approximately $1,000.


Don’t use a $1 fiberglass filter, and sure the expensive filters catch just about every speck of dust that tries to pass through to the coil, but they provide so much resistance that even air can’t get through; starving your unit for air and potentially decreasing the useful life of your system. Our recommendation is to choose a one-inch pleated filter for about $4.
A high-efficiency air filter (all the filters minus the fiberglass filter) will do a good job of trapping dust, pollen and other airborne particles before they can get into your air conditioning system’s air handler which can blow the dirt back into your house.

Because they do such a good job they can quickly become covered with dirt, dust, and dander.  When the filter is dirty it will restrict air flow to the air handler causing your air conditioning system to work harder and become less energy-efficient.

Prevent air flow problems by changing the air filter every month. Even if the manufacturer’s instructions say you can change it once a season, do it every 30 days.

Also you may have a HVAC pro check your system’s ducts.  If they are not sized correctly and you use a high-efficiency air filter, the system could be more likely to suffer from restricted air flow.

Monthly To-Do: January | #AirFilters

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