Should You Use Washable HVAC Air Filters in 2021?

We all know (or should know) how important it is to regularly replace your HVAC air filters. We typically recommend that our customers replace HVAC air filters at least every 3 months, or more often if you're in your home all the time (as could be the case for many of our service area right now due to COVID-19), or if you live in a new construction zone. Considering how many of our customers are currently working and schooling from home, and also trying to limit how often they go out in public, we've started getting questions about washable HVAC air filters. With that in mind, today we'll discuss whether or not you should use washable HVAC air filters.

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Why are HVAC Air Filters Important? 

HVAC air filters help purify the air as it circulates through your HVAC system. HVAC Air Filters capture most dust, pollen, allergens, mold, and other particles that we want to avoid breathing. They're particularly important during this pandemic as we are all a little more concerned with keeping healthy, and especially important for those who already have a respiratory illness. As such, air filters help keep the conditioned air that comes into your home as clean as possible.

In addition to keeping the air clean for breathing, HVAC air filters also make for a cleaner house. By capturing most of the dust, HVAC air filters prevent dust and other particles from settling on your furniture. Over time, by using air filters, your HVAC system will be more efficient, more reliable, and have a longer lifespan.

Are Washable HVAC Air Filters Better?

If you've been regularly replacing your HVAC air filters the recommended every 3 months, then you've likely stood in front of the air filter aisle wondering which one to buy. The options are endless and range from cheapy cheap to pretty expensive. As a general rule, we tend to avoid the super cheap options but are the more expensive HVAC air filters really that much better? What about Washable HVAC Air Filters?

Disposable HVAC air filters are convenient, and most of us use them. Many of us even stock up on them so that we don't have to go through the hustle of figuring out what size filter we need to buy each time. However, there have recently been some questions regarding what all these disposable air filters are doing to our landfills and our environment.

While we might not have recommended a washable HVAC air filter in the past, technology has evolved quite a bit since they were first released.

What are Washable HVAC Air Filters? 

Washable HVAC air filters are just that: washable and reusable. For many of our customers, this is quite appealing - the idea that you wouldn't have to keep buying a product over and over again. These washable HVAC air filters use multiple layers of filtration media (usually a woven polypropylene) that has an electrostatic charge.

Typically, airborne contaminants become positively charged as they move through your HVAC system. A washable HVAC air filter basically works like a magnet to attract debris as it passes through the filter system. Like any air filter, this process keeps the output air supply cleaner as air recirculates throughout your house.

Environmentalists love washable HVAC air filters. They can be reused over and over again for up to 10 years, so there's less waste being thrown into our landfills. However, they do cost more upfront. Rather than paying $8 a filter 4 times a year (for one filter), you'll likely pay closer to $40 a filter. However, by using washable HVAC air filters, you'll save money in the long run since you won't have to invest in new disposable air filters each year.

All that said, while we love the progress that washable HVAC air filters have made, typically disposable air filters still have higher MERV ratings and tend to catch smaller particles better than the washable air filters. We expect that over time, washable HVAC air filters will improve.

What’s the best HVAC air filter for you? Give Choice HVAC a call at 919-435-2711. We'd be happy to talk to you more about all of your HVAC air filter options.

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