To get the best performance out of your air conditioner, the conventional wisdom is that you should replace its air filter on a monthly basis. But is it worth replacing your current disposable air filter with a reusable filter? The following takes a look at the pros and cons of disposable and reusable HVAC air filters.
Pros and Cons of Reusable Filters
Reusable air filters are the most expensive type of filter you could buy for your air conditioner. As Angie's List not es, the average cost of a reusable filter is around $20—double the cost of a typical disposable air filter. However, they're designed to last for years on end, which could potentially save you hundreds of dollars over the life of the filter.
Another upside to having reusable filters is their eco-friendliness. A reusable air filter that lasts five years or more has a lesser impact on the environment than several dozen air filters that find their way to landfills during the same period.
There are a couple of downsides that come with using reusable air filters:
- Washing and drying an air filter takes more work than simply swapping and tossing a disposable one. You could keep a second reusable air filter on hand to give the one you washed plenty of time to air dry. However, that's an additional expense to deal with.
- Most reusable air filters aren't as efficient at trapping airborne pollutants as their disposable counterparts. While the most effective disposable air filters feature a MERV rating between 8 and 13, reusable air filters tend to have MERV ratings between 1 and 4—about as effective as the most basic fiberglass disposable air filter.
Pros and Cons of Disposable Filters
Unlike reusable air filters, disposable air filters feature an easier replacement process—simply yank the old filter out, slot the new filter in, and toss the old filter in the garbage. For many, it's less time-consuming than rinsing and scrubbing a reusable filter. Disposable air filters are also available in higher MERV ratings than their reusable counterparts. Whereas a reusable air filter tops out at MERV 4, you can purchase a disposable filter with ratings as high as MERV 16.
The only downside to disposable air filters is long-term cost—if you spend $10 on a high-quality air filter on a monthly basis, you could find yourself spending over $100 a year on filter replacements. Fortunately, it's easy to find a cheap off-brand replacement that offers similar or exact filtration quality as the name-brand filter.
Which One Works Best?
Ultimately, it's up to you to decide which type of air filter works best for your air conditioner as well as your indoor air quality and household budget. Disposable air filters are superior in terms of filtration and cost, but disposable air filters have less impact on the environment and offer greater long-term savings. Talk to an AC installation professional for their input.