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Energy Efficiency


get a filter that’s too small, dirt will get around the barrier and invade your system. Keep in mind that many disposable filter manufacturers undercut their filters by anywhere from ¼" to ½". In most cases, you should be able to use closest standard size. A filter measuring 15-3/4" X 19- 3/4" could be replaced with a 16" x 20" filter. Tere are several different


types of filters and levels of efficiency. Filters are either flat or pleated; pleated filters offer extra surface area to hold dirt, making them more efficient. Te most common filters use


layered fiberglass fibers reinforced with metal grating. Some filters boost efficiency by using polyester fibers. Electrostatic filters are made from positively- and negatively-charged fibers and capture smaller debris—the charge actively pulls particles from the air like iron filings onto a magnet. No power connection is required, and the charge does not fade over time. Te filters best able to capture small debris are high efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) filters, but these deluxe filters are mainly used in hospitals and office buildings, not in homes. Air filters are rated by a


Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). Ranging from one to 20, this scale gauges a filter’s effectiveness at blocking debris. Low MERV-rated filters


offer high airflow into a cooling or heating system, but only catch large air particles. A higher rating isn’t always better—those filters block more dirt but also reduce system airflow. Most experts recommend filters with a MERV 6 or higher. (See illustration "What do different filters block" on page 23.) Manufacturers are not


Looking for a new filter? You have lots of options. Size is the most important factor—a filter must fit your HVAC system perfectly. Most brands like Filtrete offer three levels of filters: good, better, best (prices rise accordingly). If someone in your home suffers from allergies, it may be worthwhile to pay extra for one of the better filters—they capture more allergens from your home’s air. (NRECA)


required to post MERV on filter packaging. Brands like 3M’s Filtrete instead list levels of microparticle performance rating—higher numbers mean the filter catches more particles. Home Depot’s Air Filter Performance Rating system ranks filters by good, better, best, and premium. No matter what system a store or manufacturer uses, better (and more expensive) filters mean higher MERV scores. If a family member suffers


from allergies, a high MERV filter keeps out excess dander, smoke, and other allergens. Ask a heating and cooling professional what type of filter works best for your home and family needs. Once you find a filter that


Washable electrostatic air filters are made to outlast an HVAC system. Electrostatic filters attract small particles like iron filings onto a magnet. No power connection is required, and the charge does not fade over time. (Permatron Corporation)


works well in your home, it’s a good idea to keep spare filters on hand. Basic filters cost anywhere from $2 to $10; electrostatic filters may range from $18 to $25. Want more ways to save?


Take the home energy savings tour and see how little changes add up to big savings at www. TogetherWeSave.com.


Sources: ENERGY STAR, U.S. Department of Energy, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, Home Depot, 3M, Permatron


Megan McKoy-Noe writes on energy efficiency issues for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.- based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.


News Magazine 11


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