What Kind of Air Filter Do I Need?

a photo of man changing his air filter

When it comes to our air filters, many of us forget that they should be changed at least once a month. And even if we do remember, we just grab whatever is cheapest. After all, how different can air filters really be?

What many don’t realize is that the type of air filter we chose for our homes can have a huge impact on our air quality. It’s important that you get the right kind of filter for your home’s needs. Here is a quick guide to understanding the kinds of air filters and knowing what kind to buy.

Air Filter Types

Air filters come in a variety of different materials, depending on their use. Here are the most common kinds of air filters that you’ll see in stores:

  • Fiberglass: This is the most common type of air filter. It is made up of layered fiberglass, reinforced with a metal grating.

  • Polyester and Pleated: These are very similar to fiberglass filter, but typically are higher quality and have a higher airflow resistance.

  • Electrostatic: The highest quality of air filters, electrostatic filters have charged fibers that capture unwanted pollutants.

  • Washable or Reusable: Not all filters are disposable. Some air filters can be washed and reused each month.

Filters come in a variety of qualities, so be sure to check out their labels to know if you are getting a filter right for your home. Also, before going out to buy air filters, be sure to measure your air vent to make sure you’re buying the right size.

Air Filter Ratings

The minimum efficiency reporting value, referred to as the MERV rating, measures the quality and effectiveness of air filters. The scale measures performance based on what percentage of particles the air filter captures. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), here are what the different rated air filters protect your home against:


Used to Filter…

Used in….


Pollen, dust, textile fibers, dust mites

Window AC Units


Mold, pet dander, household cleaning sprays, spores

Better residential, general commercial


Legionella, humidifier dust, lead dust, auto emission particulates, Nebulized droplets

Superior residential, better commercial, hospitals


Bacterial, sneeze particles, most smoke, insecticide dust

Hospitals and surgery rooms


Viruses, carbon dust, smoke

Pharmaceutical manufacturing cleanrooms

As you can see, unless you’re planning on performing surgery in your living room, you only need an air filter with a rating between 5 and 12.

Keep Your Air Clean!

To keep your air clean and safe, make sure to buy a superior quality air filter. That way you can keep your home free of common household pollutants, and your family breathing happy. The best way to make sure your air is being filtered properly is by getting regular preventative AC maintenance. Contact One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning® of Clearwater today and find out how we can keep your home comfortable and air fresh!