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Do Home Air Filters Really Make a Difference?

Air filters. They are fairly straightforward devices that claim to do a lot for you. Air filters purportedly protect you from home-air pollutants, improve your indoor air quality and protect your HVAC system. But do those thin, pleated sheets really accomplish everything they promise?

In short, yes! Though not all air filters are created equal, these filters generally serve incredibly important functions for you, your home and your HVAC system.

First, air filters screen out potentially harmful pollutants, protecting you and improving your home air quality. You don’t want to be breathing this stuff in.

These pollutants could include:

  • Particulate matter: dust, smoke, pollen, animal dander, tobacco, dust mites, molds, bacteria and viruses.
  • Gaseous pollutants: combustion gases, vehicle exhaust, adhesives, paints, varnishes, cleaning products, chemical products and pesticides.


In addition, air filters protect your HVAC system from fine dust and dirt particles.

Without air filters, dust and dirt in your system can lead to many inefficiencies and mechanical issues:

  • Dust and other particulates can collect in your HVAC system’s ductwork, heat exchangers and cooling coils, blocking air flow. If airflow is blocked, the system will run longer and less efficiently, inflating your energy bills.
  • The mechanical components of your HVAC system can be damaged by accumulated dust and dirt. In particular, your motor’s lifespan could be shortened, leaving you with a large repair bill.


Air filters are simple but important devices that protect you, your wallet, your home and your HVAC system. Be sure to change out your air filters regularly to avoid any problems.

Can I buy the cheapest ones? Are more expensive filters really more efficient?

Air filters come in a range of prices. When looking at a $4 filter and a $30 filter side-by-side, it’s tempting to go with the cheapest option. However, as we mentioned above, not all air filters are created equal.

Rather than looking just at cost, a better way to evaluate air filters is by their Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating, which essentially grades the efficiency and effectiveness of air filters. Most home filters range between a 1 and 13 rating (1 being the lowest rating), while 13+ refer to HEPA filters. When shopping for an air filter, be sure to check the MERV ratings.

These MERV ratings really do make a difference. Recent studies have shown that, while air filters with low MERV ratings (1-5) will still minimally protect your HVAC system, these low-efficiency filters offer no better pollutant protection than no filter at all. Meanwhile, filters with high MERV ratings (7-13) offer effective pollutant reduction and have even been shown to help individuals with respiratory conditions, like asthma.

Choosing the right air filter for you can depend on many factors. Are you prone to respiratory illness? Do you have pets? Do you live in a high pollution or high allergen area? However, it’s important not to skimp on your air filters. At a minimum, you should be using air filters with the MERV rating recommended by your HVAC system’s manufacturer, and you should be changing those filters regularly.

Uncertain about the state of your air filter? Call or text Godby today. We’d be happy to inspect your HVAC system, perform maintenance and replace your air filter for you. For a local company that you can trust, remember, “It’s Gotta be Godby!”



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