Saving money with better furnace filters?

jerry_njOctober 4, 2008

I was watching an energy savings sequence on tv where a Home Depot guy was touting ways to save energy/money. All look familiar and believable except one: replace the cheap fiber glass (usually blue in color in my experience) air filter with a more expensive pleated filter and save $120 per year. He didn't say how that savings would accrue, but he said nothing that the savings might be do the money saved on having the heat exchanger professionally cleaned, say. Can one expect to expect to save this kind of money (both ac and heat) by having a more effective/efficient air filter? If yes, I'll pay the extra money for better filters.

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I don't know about saving money, but if your using a 1" filter, look out for the pleated ones (3M & Filtrete), as they are restrictive and will decrease airflow (increase static) and could damage your furnace.

Most duct systems are not properly designed for a more restrictive filter.

If, on the other hand, you want to have a 4 or 5" media filter installed, go ahead. They have much more surface area and very well give you better airflow.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 10:44AM
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I would say the more restrictive filters would be LESS efficient, in theory (less airflow).

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 11:34AM
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Hum, makes me wonder if I misunderstood the bit on t.v. For a "proof" of filtering ability he poured table salt through the fiberglass (standard) filter, it went through, at least a lot of it did. None I could see went through the pleated filter.

I agree, more air resistance, less air, less heat transfer. My application is a heat pump, so the temperature change isn't large, perhaps 30 degrees when heating (as measured at the output side of the plenum compared to room temperature).

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 9:50PM
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Now wait a minute. Are you telling mt 3 for $7 Natural Air pleated filters from HD are actually making my heat pump less efficient. I know they make a difference as far as home much dust goes through the house...we also have allergies. Still if the efficiency were a big issue, how could they get away with selling these...

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 10:12PM
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I use the same filters Andrea. I see an advantage in standard pleated filters such as the ones we use, but the 3M Filtrete filters and the like are just too restrictive for many systems. I wouldn't be concerned with efficiency with using these filters. If you let them get very dirty, maybe. I was just saying that in theory, higher efficiency systems need to move plenty of air to stay efficient. Variable-speed blowers vary their speed to maintain CFM and maintain efficient operation.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 10:20PM
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Andre: Those filters are good.

I haven't seen the ad, but the only thing I could come up with is that the pleated filter (not too restrictive like a MERV 8) prevents dirt from forming on the indoor coil. A clean coil is more efficient than a dirty coil.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 10:22PM
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Thanks, good inputs.

So, how does one clean the indoor coils? I have a heat pump so I'm using them summer and winter. The opening for the filters gives some access to one side, but it is only a bit over 1" wide, so the home vacuum brush and hose will not fit in. Are there attachments one can buy for a standard tank-type home vacuum that can reach into narrow openings? My HP takes two filter, 14"x30"x1"

My HP has about 15 years of use on it, all with the low cost fiber glass filters, so I'm sure there could be some benefits from cleaning the coils. Is this a good service one might purchase from a heating/cooling contractor?

    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 7:12PM
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You need access to the underside of the coil where the air enters the coil. This side usually has more dirt deposited on it.

You can buy a self rinsing evaporator coil cleaning spray at an HVAC store, or a commercial supply store like Grainger. You spray the cleaner on the coil and the condensate from running the a/c rinses off the coil. Be careful with vacuum attachments - you don't want to bend the fine aluminum fins on the coil.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 9:02PM
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"Be careful with vacuum attachments - you don't want to bend the fine aluminum fins on the coil. "

Absolutely. You may want to hire a service contractor to perform a "tune-up" service and make certain they clean the coils as part of this service. The key to having a long system life is to keep it maintained well, so if you have not done so in a while you may want to have a service company out to do so.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 9:48PM
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We have 30 years HVAC experience in Atlanta area. I have tried many brands and types of filters. We recommend BoAir brand filters. They are electrostatic with no polyester...low air flow restriction and good dust arrestance. They are expensive but worth it.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 9:18PM
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