As a homeowner, you’re probably conscientious about doing your part to help the environment. You have a high-efficiency heating and cooling system, and you even bought a smart thermostat to reduce energy consumption. But when was the last time you thought about your furnace’s air filter?

Depending on the type of filter you use, you could be going through four to 12 of these each year. That’s a lot of waste that adds up over the years! So, we know it’s normal to be wondering what to do with old air filters.

Let’s review the different types of furnace air filters, whether you can recycle them and eco-friendly options.

Types of Air Filters

There are four different types of filters commonly uses in residential furnaces: flat filters, pleated filters, electrostatic filters and HEPA filters. Every filter has a MERV rating, which measures how effectively they trap particles. The higher the number, the better the filtration.

Flat Filters

These are the most common and cheapest type of furnace air filter. They’re typically made from fiberglass or other synthetic materials. Flat filters are considered the bare minimum, since they only catch 80% of larger particles, like those that are the size of beach sand and larger. They’re usually rated between 1-4 MERV and need to be replaced each month.

Electrostatic Filters

These aluminum HVAC filters use self-charging fibers to trap air pollutants. They’re typically rated at 1-4 MERV, like flat filters, but are usually washable. With proper monthly care, they can last up to 10 years. This makes them an attractive choice over disposable flat filters.

Pleated Filters

When rating filters from good, better and best, these would fall under “better.” Pleated filters can trap smaller particles, such as mold, dust and chemical fumes. They’re usually rated between 5-8 MERV, although some can be as high as 12 MERV. They usually last around three months.

HEPA Filters

HEPA, or high efficiency particulate air, filters offer the best filtration. They’re most frequently used in medical and lab settings. That’s because they capture up to 99% of contaminants ranging from dust and pollen to bacteria and viruses under certain airflow conditions.

Because they’re so thick, they tend to restrict airflow, which can increase your electrical bill. When used in a home, they’re typically part of an air purification system that works in tandem with your furnace. HEPA filters are rated at 13-16 MERV and typically last for about a year.

How to Recycle or Dispose of Old Air Filters

You might be wondering, are furnace filters recyclable? In most cases, they aren’t and will need to go in the trash. However, you can always try checking with the manufacturer or your local recycling authority, if you’re looking for ways of how to dispose of old furnace filters.

Instead of worrying about having to recycle old air filters, you can install an electrostatic air filter. As we mentioned earlier, these filters can last up to 10 years if you wash them each month and let them dry before using them again.

However, it’s important to know that an electrostatic filter doesn’t provide as good of filtration as a pleated filter, which is important if someone in your home has allergies or asthma.

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly air filtration solution for your home, A-1 United can help! Give us a call at 402-593-7500 today.