Are All Air Filters The Same?

Are all air filters created equal? We often get this question when helping one of our customers determine the best filter for their unique needs. When a customer asks this question, we usually respond politely, “Well, it depends.”

It depends on what they’re trying to achieve with their air conditioning system. In addition, this also has to do with the equipment within their building. The right filter could be several different types of filters.

There is a wide variety of air filters to choose from when looking to improve the air quality in your home or business. Some are standard, others more specialized and unique.

Standard air filters are basic entry-level devices to help improve the indoor quality of your home or business. On the other hand, specialized air filters have more advanced functionality. These advanced functionalities allow users to get more out of their investments.

Choosing the right air filter can go a long way to improving the overall quality of indoor air. In addition, good quality air filters improve the health and comfort of your family and employees.

Unfortunately, air pollution is the cause of a wide range of illnesses worldwide. As a result, indoor air pollution is one of the top five environmental risks to public health.

Do You Need an Air Filter?

Air quality is essential to the health and well-being of the people who live or work in your home or business. Using air filters helps remove pollutants and other airborne particles that can negatively affect the air you breathe. These pollutants can be harmful to your lungs and respiratory system.

Many companies claim to ‘scrub’ the pollutants out of the air in your home. However, what is it that they are really doing?

  • Do air filters improve indoor air quality?
  • Does the cheaper one perform the same as a more expensive unit?

Maybe you are experiencing poor indoor air quality in your home and want to install an air filter. Or perhaps you already have an AC filter but would like to know more about how they work. Either way, an AC or furnace filter can increase your HVAC efficiency and support your health. Changing your air filters regularly maximizes the effects. In addition, improved efficiency means your system uses less energy and can last longer.

Air filters are one essential part of your HVAC system. They reduce the number of small particles such as dust, allergens, and pollutants in your home. Air filters also help keep your HVAC system in good working condition. They also prevent dust buildup on sensitive components.

How Does an Air Filter Work?

Your air conditioner filters trapped particles as air is pulled through the filter and into your HVAC system. They work like tiny sieves that catch dirt, dust, and other contaminants before they can enter the ductwork and cause problems.

How Often Should You Change Your Air Filter?

Best practices say you should change your air filters every one to three months. Generally, this depends on their MERV rating and how often you use your system.

MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value. It’s the rating system used to determine the efficiency of air filters.

If you have pets, the building has high traffic, or live in an area with lots of dust, you may want to change your air filters more frequently. Similarly, if you have an older home that may not be adequately sealed, regular air filter changes can improve your indoor air quality.

A dirty air filter will decrease airflow. Dirty air filters force your system to work harder than it should to maintain your desired temperature. As a result, this can lead to premature breakdowns and higher energy bills.

Five Types of Air Filters

1. HEPA Filters

HEPA is an acronym that stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air. It refers to the type of filter used in the air purifier. The HEPA filter can remove up to 99.97% of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns, the smallest particle size visible to the naked eye. Such a feature makes them great at removing common household allergens like pollen, dust mites, and pet dander.

However, a HEPA filter might not be ideal if you’re worried about smaller particles like fumes, mold spores, and gasses. HEPA filters are best suited for removing more significant pollutants like pet hair, human hair, and dust.

2. Electrostatic Filters

Some consider electrostatic filters the most effective type available for home HVAC systems. Let’s look at the pros and cons of these filters to help you decide if they’re a good choice for your home.

These filters use an electrostatically charged fabric to capture microscopic particles in the air, resulting in highly efficient filtration. Electrostatic filters are one of the best AC filters for removing small particles. In addition, they require less energy to operate than other types of filters. The charge on these filter media attracts airborne particles. So it doesn’t rely solely on air pressure to force particles through a mesh or screen. If you struggle with asthma or allergies, this might be the best filter to remove allergens from your indoor air.

On the other hand, electrostatic filters are more expensive than different types of filter media. Additionally, electrostatic filters must be grounded because they rely on a static charge. Otherwise, they can become highly flammable when exposed to heat sources like a furnace flame.

3. Washable Filters

Washable air filters are a great option because they can be reused and cleaned several times. They are also more environmentally friendly than disposable filters.

These filters are available in various materials, from metal to synthetic blends. Plus, they come in many standard sizes. As a result, they can provide significant savings over the filter’s life compared to disposable ones.

You will, however, need to clean your filter every two or three months to keep it working well. The good news is, cleaning your filter is not a difficult chore. In fact, cleaning a washable filter is very simple. It only requires using a hose attachment to spray both sides of the filter clean with water. Or you can soak the filter in a bucket of soapy water, then rinse and let it dry.

4. Spun Glass Filters

Spun glass filters, also known as fiberglass filters, are made of synthetic material. This material is spun into fibers to create the filter. In addition, spun glass filters are often manufactured using a proprietary type of material from plastic fibers. These fibers are spun together to create a powerful and dense filtration medium. You can find these filters in various sizes and shapes for nearly all furnaces, and air conditioner makes and models.

Fiberglass air filters are usually inexpensive. Plus, they do not require much maintenance as they can be washed with water and reused multiple times before they need to be replaced. In addition, these filters help to remove large dust particles from the air.

However, they do not typically capture airborne allergens such as pet dander or mold spores. So if you have allergies or asthma, this air conditioner filter may not be the best option.

5. Pleated Filters

Pleated filters are made from a thin sheet of pleated material. These pleats serve to increase the surface area of the filter. The increased surface area means it can catch more dust particles. With pleated filters, you can go longer between cleanings. Pleated filters can reduce energy usage and the amount of wear-and-tear on your heating/cooling system because the air has an easier time getting through.

The downside is that these filters are pricier because they cost more to produce. Additionally, while a pleated air filter is excellent for larger particles, they don’t catch smaller particles and other filter types. So this can lead to problems if you have asthma or allergies.

Choosing the Right Air Filter

Different filters have different sizes, including square and round, which allow you to choose the type of filter you need. For example, some AC units use 2-inch filters, and others use 1-inch filters. So you’ll also need to know if you need a thin or thick filter. The size of the filter you need depends on the type of unit you have and the manufacturer.

Air filters come in standard and specialized forms, but which is the better choice for your needs? Are you looking for a filter for commercial buildings or residential use? Standard air filters, also known as multi-pound or all-purpose, are designed to remove airborne particles. The basic design of standard air filters effectively reduces a wide range of airborne particulates. Specialized air filters offer superior filtration capabilities. However, standard air filters generally exceed most residential filtration needs.

You might have seen those ads claiming that they can clean 99.9% of the particles in your home. What do those numbers really mean? Standard filters will “catch” at least some particles in your air, such as dust and dander. In that regard, specialized filters go a step further. They capture a lot of other things as well. For example, standard air filters are for reducing airborne particles. However, specialized filters remove chemicals, smells, pollen, viruses, and bacteria.

How Much Does MERV Matter?

A filter with a high MERV rating will be better at filtration than one with a lower MERV rating. However, getting the highest rating is not always the best idea. Don’t assume that more is better when it comes to air filters. While higher MERV ratings may be desirable in hospitals and cold storage facilities, they’re not as practical in homes or offices. So you can’t just go by filtration rating. Furthermore, residential buildings have different air filtration requirements than buildings used for other purposes. Therefore, a higher-rated MERV filter is not always the best choice for you.

Generally, residential buildings usually contain filters with a MERV rating of 8. However, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), high-efficiency filters with a MERV rating of at least 13 can prevent viruses. So this is an ideal choice to filter out particulate matter and maintain clean air indoors. This will help you ensure your family’s or employees’ health as this can protect against respiratory problems. However, it’s important to note that higher MERV ratings generally cost more.

Your air-conditioning unit is an essential part of your home comfort system. You rely on it to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. However, you may not realize that you can improve indoor air quality by using the right filter.

Fortunately, you can leave those decisions to the experts. Our team at TCC is always available to help you choose, install and maintain the best air filter for your needs.

Air Filter Maintenance

Getting a new air filter every three months is a great idea. That’s one way to maintain your HVAC system and, by extension, indoor air quality. You can change the filters yourself or hire an ****HVAC technician ****to do it for you.

Changing your air filter regularly is an important part of how you take care of your HVAC system. The main reason is that it’s a great way to ensure you get the best performance out of your HVAC system. In addition, without proper maintenance, dust and debris can get into the unit itself. Such particles could cause damage or malfunction over time.

A dirty filter can cause several problems, including:

  • Straining your HVAC system
  • Allowing dust to build up in the ducts and vents
  • Reducing indoor air quality
  • Aging your HVAC system prematurely
  • Increasing energy costs

Once you notice any of these signs, it’s time to check on the condition of your filters. Are you looking to automate your AC maintenance?

Our technicians are highly trained to care for your complete HVAC system, including filter replacement. When you get on an AC maintenance plan, you experience better air quality. Enjoy top-of-the-line service by the best minds in the industry. Contact us today to set up your HVAC maintenance plan.


Ultimately, selecting the right home air filter for your needs will depend on outside factors. These include the size of your home and what you’re trying to improve in terms of air quality. Both are crucial elements that help maintain a high-efficiency AC performance.

Regardless of the filter you get, clean it regularly to maximize efficiency. That decision should be pretty straightforward with a bit of research and the help of professionals like us at The Cooling Company.

Although there are many options, at The Cooling Company, we want to encourage our customers to do their part in protecting the environment. So use reusable filters when you can. In addition, we offer home energy efficiency assessments for all our local clients. So we can check your systems and advise you when a filter needs to be changed.

The bottom line is several factors go into choosing the right filter for your comfort and health. First, it takes a better understanding of how they work. That means knowing what factors in the environment can affect their performance. From there, you’ll be able to buy with confidence. Next, contact The Cooling Company for an expert’s opinion on the best filter for your unique situation.