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What is a MERV rating? Short for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values, this is a number from 1 to 20 that indicates how effectively a filter captures particles from the air. Created in 1987, MERV ratings allow consumers to balance factors of particle filtering, energy efficiency, and cost when choosing an air filter for their home.

In general, the best MERV rating for a home is between 8 and 10. These filters capture a large portion of particles and improve indoor air quality without adding significant costs. When a home is unoccupied, a less expensive MERV 8 filter may be sufficient.

Higher numbered filters, such as MERV 13, are designed to trap smaller particles and may be beneficial to residents with severe respiratory conditions. However, as a tradeoff, these filters restrict air flow to the home’s HVAC system, causing it to work harder, become less efficient, and raise energy costs.

Remember to change your air filter regularly to keeps your HVAC system operating properly. Neglecting to change your air filter can cause all sorts of issues. The biggest problem is that it causes your A/C to work overtime, which results in higher energy costs and can lead to HVAC repair bills.