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How to Choose Between a Disposable and High Efficiency Furnace Filter

Furnace filters were originally designed for protection. But with rising concerns for indoor air quality, high efficiency furnace filters with denser media are becoming the norm. Electrostatic filters, electronic air cleaners, HEPA filters, and allergen filters are sweeping the market and providing health benefits for homeowners. But that isn’t the whole picture.

While disposable filters do not provide significant indoor air quality benefits, they have provided homeowners with years of dependable performance by providing proficient air flow to the furnace. Air flow is the most important factor ensuring your furnace does not overheat which could cause costly mechanical damage. If indoor air quality is not a chief concern, many homeowners wonder is a high efficiency filter worth it? The answer may be no.

Determining your furnace filter needs is quite simple. In the grand scheme of furnace operation and maintenance really only two key questions need to be answered: is indoor air quality important to you? And what type of maintenance and frequency works best for you? If you have asthma, allergies, have household members who are smokers, you have pets or small children, or any respiratory conditions, then you should firmly consider a high efficiency filter. If these concerns do not affect you, a disposable filter will be sufficient.

If you are looking for convenient and simple maintenance, a high efficiency filter may not be the right fit for you. These filters require frequent cleanings and monitoring as the denser media increases risk of your furnace overheating and failing. When a high efficiency filter such as an electrostatic filter gets dirty it significantly reduces air flow. Even more so than a dirty disposable filter would. Reduced air flow can lead to premature failure of the furnace resulting in the need for emergency service. To prevent reduced air flow in your home, it is important to have an HVAC specialist such as Four Seasons recommend which configuration will provide the best air quality while maintaining air flow.

Consider our Tips when Pondering Disposable vs. High Efficiency:

Disposable FiltersHigh Efficiency Filters
Ensures best air flow for furnace operation when maintained.If air quality is your concern – a high efficiency configuration is required.
Easy maintenance for any homeownerIf you have a high efficiency furnace you will benefit from running the fan continuously with increased filtration
Convenience with once-monthly disposalAn investment – initial costs are offset by savings on disposable filters with a permanent installation.

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