What is a MERV Rating and Why Does it Matter?

Many people don’t realize indoor air quality can be worse than outdoor air. This is because most homes are sealed tight, trapping in contaminants. People with allergies, asthma, and other breathing problems are especially sensitive to indoor air pollution. So, it’s important to have an HVAC system that filters out these pollutants as much as possible. An HVAC technician may mention a MERV rating when discussing your home’s heating and cooling system, but what does it mean? If you want to know more, you’re in the right place. We’ve put together this information to help you understand MERV ratings and why they’re essential for maintaining an efficient HVAC system.

What is a MERV Rating?

MERV is an acronym for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It’s a rating system that measures the effectiveness of air filters.
The standardization of air filters was developed by ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) in the 1980s as a standard measurement of particle removal efficiency in residential and commercial filters. The number ranges from 1 to 20, with 1 being the lowest and 20 being the highest. The higher the MERV rating, the more effective it is at removing particles from a room’s air. Knowing which MERV rating is best for your home’s air filtration system will help keep your indoor air clean and save you money on your energy bills.

Understanding a MERV Rating

The MERV rating measures a filter’s ability to capture pollen, dust, mold, and other airborne particles. The higher the MERV rating, the more effective it is at capturing these particles. This means that fewer particles are circulating in your home, which can help reduce allergies and improve overall air quality. In order to understand what MERV ratings mean and how they affect your home HVAC system, you need to know how they are calculated.
MERV 1-4 are the lowest grades but are still suitable for use in residential settings. The highest ratings sound appealing but aren’t ideal for your home HVAC system. By trapping the tiniest particles, they overwork your system, leading to repairs sooner than you’d like.

MERV Ratings and Their Uses

MERV ratings are a measure of the minimum efficiency of a filter. A higher MERV rating means that the filter can trap more particles.

MERV rating 1-7

Air filters with a MERV rating of 1-7 are used in larger industrial settings. This is because they don’t filter out any small particles, so they can only be used in areas with good airflow. Why bother using a filter, then? Factories and industrial settings contain a lot of equipment, and capturing the larger particles helps protect the machinery from airborne dust.

MERV Rating 8-13

A good rule of thumb for choosing the right air filter for your home or business is to use one with a MERV rating between 8 and 13. These filters effectively remove dust, pollen, mold spores, and other allergens from your indoor air.
You need a higher MERV rating the more pollution there is near your home. For instance, if you live in an area with high amounts of pollution, you should buy a filter with a MERV rating of 13 or higher.

MERV Rating 14-20

Hospitals use higher MERV ratings to keep their patients safe from airborne pathogens that could cause infections such as tuberculosis or influenza. Laboratories also use high MERV ratings because they require clean air for their sensitive equipment and experiments. You could use a higher MERV rating filter in your home if you’re worried about pollutants. But they use more energy and lead to higher energy bills. Therefore, the best way to clean indoor air is to use a HEPA filter.

Does a HEPA Filter Have a MERV Rating?

HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate absorbing filter and high-efficiency particulate arrestance filter. If you want the very best filter for your home, choose a HEPA. They remove 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns from the air that passes through them. This makes them great for people with allergies, asthma, or other respiratory conditions.
The most common use for HEPA filters is in HVAC systems (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), where they catch dust particles before entering the building’s ductwork system. However, even the best air filters don’t last forever. So, if you notice your air-conditioner blowing harder than usual, it might be time for a new filter. You can also check the filter itself: if it’s dirty or clogged, that’s another sign that it needs to be replaced. Scheduling regular HVAC tune-ups ensure your air filters work at their best and protect your home from pollutants. And it saves costly repair bills later. Still trying to decide which air filter is best for your home? Contact the HVAC experts at Moore Home Services today for more help and information.