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What’s the Best Filter for You?

Coffee filter, water filter, mouth filter … it seems like whether we are at home, work or on vacation we are always trying to filter something out.  In heating and cooling, filters are used to keep dust, mold and other allergens out of the air you breathe.  The problem is, like with most things, there are different kinds and grades of filters.  So what is the best filter for you and your home?

Filters are measured by their percentage of ‘arrestance,’ meaning what amount and size of particle they stop.  The higher the percentage, the smaller the particle the filter will stop.  In typical duct systems, there are three main types of filtration systems: Conventional “Throwaway” Fiberglass, H.E.P.A. and Electronic Air Cleaners.

Conventional “throw-away” fiberglass – these are the most inexpensive and the most common filters that you can buy.  They’re the filter you can see through.  They stop only 15% of the largest dust particles in the air and have no effect on pollen, micro-organisms, smoke or other similar pollutants.  They need to be replaced every month in the winter and summer.  These typically cost $10 or less.

H.E.P.A., or Pleated Paper – these filters look like a paper version of drapery pleats and stop up to 45% of the particles in the air.  They come in the same size as a fiberglass filter and are available at most hardware/home improvement stores.  H.E.P.A. filters give the greatest degree of improvement for the money spent.  They run approximately $500-$1000 including their installation and the frame.  A replacement filter costs $75-$100.  They should be replaced every 1 to 3 months.

Electronic (not electrostatic) – this filter system uses ionizing cells and offers the best results.  It has the highest capture rate of up to 95% of all airborne pollutants including bacteria, dust, animal hair, dust mites, mildew, lint, fungus, smoke, cooking grease, mold and viruses.  An electronic air filter can pay for itself by increasing energy efficiency and prolonging the life of your system. They also reduce the need to dust furniture.  These cells must be removed and cleaned at least once a month with either a hose or in your dishwasher in order to enjoy maximum efficiency and a cleaner home. Installing an electronic filter costs roughly $900-$1500 including labor.

Dirty or clogged filters can decrease the efficiency of  a furnace or air conditioner because the furnace has to work harder to put out the same amount of heated or cooled air.  Therefore it is important to change or clean your filters not just for your health and cleanliness of your home but also for the furnace and air conditioner.  If you have any questions about your own filtration system or upgrading it, please contact FLAME!

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