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Understanding and Choosing Between Different Types of Home Air Filters

When was the last time you replaced your home air filters? If you can’t remember or it’s been too long, put it on your to-do list to get it done as soon as possible. There are many benefits to frequently replacing your home air filters, one of them being it keeps your family healthier by filtering out pollutants and allergens.

Which air filters do you usually purchase? The most affordable option, the most expensive option, or somewhere in the middle? Do you know the level of protection each one offers and if the more expensive is the best option? Keep reading as we discuss how to choose between different types of air filters so you can replace yours with the best one for your specific needs.


Why is Changing Home Air Filters Important?

You often hear from advertisements or your HVAC technicians how important it is to replace your home air filters, but do you know why? Replacing home air filters has many benefits:

Better Air Quality

Air filters exist to purify the air that blows from the air ducts of your HVAC system. No matter the type of air filter you choose, they function to trap contaminants and matter like dust, dirt, pollens and allergens, and pet dander. Once the HVAC system powers on to blow cool or warm air into your home through the air ducts, the first thing the air passes through is the home air filter to remove this matter from the air.

Energy Efficiency

Since the first thing the air that blows from the HVAC system comes in contact with is the air filter, it needs to be clean so the air can pass through. Imagine if the air filter was free of debris; the tiny particles that get trapped would allow air to pass through easily. On the contrary, imagine if the air filter was dirty; allergens and dander would make it difficult for air to pass through, resulting in the HVAC system running longer and more frequently than it needs to regulate a comfortable temperature. 

Stable Temperature

Changing home air filters before they get too dirty allows the HVAC system to blow air through easily. However, if the filter is full of pet hair, pollen, and dirt, this thick layer will only allow a small amount of air to blow through. It would be difficult for the HVAC system to regulate a stable temperature when only a little air can blow through the filter. This puts unnecessary stress on the HVAC system and wears it down quickly over time.

Prolong HVAC System’s Lifespan

Did you know that frequently changing your home air filters keeps your HVAC system in better shape? Having clean air filters means all components of your HVAC system don’t have to work in overdrive to regulate a comfortable temperature. Dirty air filters make the system’s components work harder and potentially shut down if they overheat from overuse.


Different Types of Home Air Filters

Knowing the importance of changing home air filters, you’re probably ready to change yours. Before we delve into the different types of home air filters, let’s quickly discuss how they’re rated based on performance. Home air filters have Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values (MERV) that rate how well they can trap particles that range in size from 0.3-10 microns (think smaller particles like bacteria to larger particles like dust). Consumers should look for home air filters with high MERV ratings like 12-14 while steering clear of lower ratings like 1-4.

You already have home air filters, but are they the right ones? Below are different types of home air filters to help you determine which is best for your home and specific concerns:


When browsing home improvement and department stores for home air filters, you’ll notice many HEPA filters on the shelves. HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate air, can trap nearly all dust, mold, pollens, and other matter in its pleats – a whopping 99.97%! With a MERV rating of 17+, they greatly reduce the amount of small and large particles, aiding in your family’s health. They are the best at blocking allergens and pollens that can worsen a loved one’s health conditions, like asthma or COPD.

HEPA filters are more expensive than other home air filters, but it’s well worth it if your family has allergies, eczema, sensitive skin, chronic illnesses, and diseases.


Unlike standard home air filters, pleated air filters offer more filtration, keeping even tiny particles from being circulated through your home’s HVAC system. Non-pleated air filters often trap small debris while pleated filters catch small debris with pleats that add extra filtration. Their MERV ratings range between 5-12.


Unlike other home air filters, electrostatic ones don’t trap and keep pollens, pet dander, and bacteria and need frequent replacing. Rather, they attract debris with static electricity. They last much longer than other home air filters that use materials to trap debris and can be effective at removing small particles. They have a MERV rating of around 5-6 and aren’t as effective at removing particles as others.

Spun Glass

Spun glass air filters are among the most affordable and, with their lower price tag and easy disposal, are appealing to many homeowners. They’re made with fiberglass that’s spun throughout the filter and does a great job of protecting the HVAC system from debris. However, they don’t do much to purify the air, giving them a MERV rating of 4-5, lower than others.


Added to an electronic filter, ultraviolet filters kill viruses and bacteria that may circulate throughout your home, ideal for anyone in the household with a compromised immune system. While they’re great for keeping loved ones healthier, they don’t filter debris like pet dander and pollen out of the air.


Media home filters are flat filters placed together to provide better filtration. The deep pleats in media filters can trap debris of all sizes from small to large. They’re installed by a professional heating and cooling company and need replacing every year. 

Changing home air filters is important because they purify the air to remove harmful particles, improving your home’s air quality for your family and loved ones. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, over 100 million Americans suffer from allergies throughout the year. Making the air inside your home safer for those who live in or you invite inside your home keeps them healthier and will make a difference in their stay, whether short or long.

Knowing the different types of home air filters, we hope you feel comfortable choosing one based on your specific needs. One of our expert technicians here at Cates Heating and Cooling would be happy to assess your current HVAC system and recommend a home air filter that’s best for your home and specific needs. 

We’re family-owned and operated with expertly trained technicians who have provided exceptional service to all our customers for over 50 years. We service Kansas City and surrounding cities, including the following:

Kansas City


Lee’s Summit



Overland Park

& more!

Our residential services include heating, cooling, air quality, and energy-efficient solutions. Contact Cates with any questions or concerns about your HVAC system and how we can help with your home air filters!

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