Are Air Filters Environmentally Friendly?

Last updated on October 12, 2020

Are your average air filters environmentally friendly? Learn more about your filters and how knowing more can help you go green. 

Directly speaking, non-reusable filters may not initially seem like the most environmentally friendly tools. There are reusable versions that allow you to avoid tossing out old filters, which can help your environmental impact.

But when you replace your old filters with new ones, the impact still matters. Changing air filters affects the energy usage of a home and, in turn, affects your carbon footprint. You’ll need to make sure you change your air filters regularly in order to avoid energy issues. 

Table of Contents

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How Air Filters Work

how air filter works

Air filters work by cleaning out incoming airflow so that outside particles like pollen and dirt don’t come into your home through the ventilation system. If you want the air inside your home to stay clean, then it is important that you make sure that the filters in place aren’t too full of captured particles. This is because your air filters are made of a tight mesh weaving that cleans out airflow as it passes through.

Air comes in, filters through, while the harmful particles are left behind. They build up over time and eventually it gets to a point where the filters need replacing before they start causing issues for your home. 

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Old Air Filter Issues

remove hvac air filter

The biggest issue with air filters as they become dirtier and dirtier is that they begin to lose the ability to process air properly. That means your air systems have more and more trouble pumping the airflow through the filters and they use more energy attempting to keep the airflow coming in normally.

The dirtier the filter, the more energy needed to keep the air flowing, and the bigger your energy bill will be at the end of the month. Not to mention the increase in your home’s carbon footprint.

If you want your HVAC system to stay fully functioning and your home less environmentally impactful, then changing the filter in your air systems is essential.  

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Reusable Filters

replace air filter

Your standard reusable filters are often your best bet when it comes to green air filtration. They require consistent cleaning but you do not have to throw them away with each replacement.

Be sure that the filters are marked reusable, otherwise attempting to clean non-reusable filters may result in the captured particles being re-released back into the air.

Regular air filters are made from more than just cardboard. There is a mesh weaving combined with other materials like polyester and fiberglass. Regular filters need replacement over time and it’s made worse depending on how effective they are. 

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MERV Rating

MERV rating chart
Source: mechreps.com

All filters fall somewhere on the MERV rating chart which determines how effective they are at cleaning out incoming airflow. The higher a glitter is rated, the tighter the mesh weaving it has and the smaller the particles it can capture.

This means cleaner air but, at the same time, it also means that the filters will become dirtier at a faster rate. Your air systems may also be unable to handle pushing the airflow through since higher MERV rated filters are made for industrial air systems.

These higher rated filters, like dirty filters, require more energy from your system to keep air flowing through regularly. So keeping clean filters in your air systems is essential to keeping your energy usage low and green impact high. 

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