Is a washable air filter any better than a disposable air filter?

The air filter in your furnace is there to prevent dust and debris from causing any damage. But constantly replacing the air filter once it’s dirty can be a task that most not only forget, but are less likely to do. Many  air conditioning experts say that most homeowners refer to their air filter as “out of sight, out of mind”, which is why they tend recommend washable air filters. Basically, a washable air filter can be cleaned and reused whereas a disposable filter needs to be regularly replaced. Comparing a regular air filter to a washable air filter has, of course, it’s positives and negatives too each. Let’s look at each in more detail …

The first and most obvious factor is that washable air filters are much more environmentally friendly. With this, they can last up to 5 years if cleaned regularly and throughout that amount of time, you would have gone through lot of disposable filters, and that equals savings. Washable filters do, however, tend to be more expensive than disposable filters but due to the fact they can be reused. Even the most expensive disposable filters will end up working out costing less in the long run. Unfortunately, many HVAC professionals say washable filters are also less efficient than the equivalent disposable filter. These filters are just not as good at trapping the smallest dust particles which can reduce the whole systems efficiency. You can tell how efficient a filter is based on the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating. A rating of 1 indicates the least efficient filter up to a rating of 12 which is the most efficient filter.

The amount of maintenance that’s required is another factor that should be taken into consideration. A reusable filter will require washing and drying once a month whereas some disposable filters only need replacing every 3 months. This means a lot more work goes into maintaining a washable filter and it will never get completely clean. Over time the dirt will build up and reduce the efficiency of the system. At which point even a washable filter will need to be replaced. In all a washable filter will save you money over a disposable filter. It is also more environmentally friendly, but it will reduce the efficiency of your system. Always remember you can contact your local heating and cooling service provider for further recommendation on choosing a washable or disposable air filter.


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