Understanding Reusable Air Filters: The Pros and Cons
“Change your air filters.”
That’s the number one piece of advice that we weave into every article. Why is changing your filter so important?
A clean air filter extends the life of your HVAC system and improves its overall efficiency. A clogged filter can greatly restrict the flow of air, meaning your system is forced to work overtime in order to regulate the comfort level in your home.
If your HVAC has to work overtime for too long, it’s much more likely to break down. And as you know, if it breaks down when you don’t expect it you’ll be stuck uncomfortable and with an expensive bill.
But if you are replacing your air filters and buying a new one every 60 days or so, as recommended, then that must have a big environmental toll. All of those are filters stacking up in landfills must be bad for the environment, right?
This very question is the reason that reusable air filters were created. Not only are they a greener option, reducing your landfill footprint but they also reduce household costs. However, reusable air filters come with their drawbacks as well, particularly if air quality is a major concern in your household. Here are both the pros and cons you should consider before choosing a reusable air filter for your home.
Reusable Air Filter Con #1: They require an upfront investment
With $35 being on the low end for reusable filters, this is definitely a more expensive option than a disposable one. However, you have to consider that you will be purchasing far fewer air filters throughout the year which means you earn back the initial investment in a few months. It’s definitely a more cost-effective route in the long run.
Reusable Air Filter Con #2: They can potentially cause mold
If you don’t allow your reusable filter to dry fully before you reinstall it, the damp filter can attract mold into your HVAC system which is horrible for your HVAC and indoor air quality and also causes health risks. If you can’t stand to turn your system off while your air filter dries, you can purchase an alternate filter for each register.
Reusable Air Filter Con #3: They may not clean everything out of the air
If you live in a household where air quality is of particular concern, you may find that a reusable air filter isn’t giving you the results you’re looking for. Air filters are measured on a scale called the MERV rating chart, which stands for minimum efficiency reporting value and while some experts say that the job of air filters is to protect your HVAC system and not improve air quality, that doesn’t discount the fact that reusable filters typically measure less than a 4 on the MERV scale. Disposable air filters land between a one and a four on the scale so you’re not getting a significant difference in efficiency.
Reusable Air Filter Pro #1: They offer convenience
Let’s be honest with ourselves: you likely don’t have a spare air filter lying around which means that each time you want to replace it, you have to run to the hardware store to buy a new one. Once there, you have to search through the large selection to find one that’s the right size for your system. This inconvenience discourages many homeowners from replacing it in a timely manner. Homeowners who have tried out washable filters find it to be a simpler alternative, just flushing the filter with water, spraying it with specialized filter cleaners which you can purchase online, rinse and allow it to dry.
Reusable Air Filter Pro #2: They save money
Even if you purchase a reusable filter for each register in your home, it will still cost less than purchasing a new filter every time you need a replacement. The return on investment occurs over a relatively short period of time so you should make back the money you put down in less than a year.
Reusable Air Filter Pro #3: Keeps more trash out of landfills
Your typical filter is composed of metal mesh, fiberglass filter material, and a cardboard frame. Recycling these components separately poses quite a challenge to your local recycling center. On top of that, fiberglass is non-biodegradable so there’s nowhere for that material to go but to your local landfill, especially when you consider how often your HVAC professional recommends that you change your filter. A washable filter keeps this trash from going straight to the trash bin, especially considering that most last five years or longer.