How to Choose an Air Filter When You Have a Pet

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Face it; as a culture, we really do love our pets. Most US households have pets, and of course, we know why. Our little furry companions bring us joy and reduce stress. Studies consistently show that our pets boost our physical and mental well-being. Our pets bring us other benefits as well. Of course, we consider pets as members of the family! As such, we happily allow them to roam freely around the house. This freedom we give our pets has a downside, however. Our pets shed and spread fur and dander wherever they go. Unfortunately, this impacts the air quality inside our homes. Pet dander can trigger allergies, asthma attacks, and other serious health issues. Fortunately, pet parents can avoid these air quality issues by choosing the right HVAC air filter for homes with pets.

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What Does An HVAC Air Filter Do?

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An air filter blocks unwanted airborne impurities. These impurities come from the air intake of the heating, ventilation, and cooling system (HVAC). The air filter surface traps dirt, dust, pollen, fur, chemicals, and other indoor air pollutants. This helps the HVAC system stays cleaner for longer, improving equipment lifespan. The quality of the indoor air also improves due to the drastically reduced pollution. For maximum energy efficiency, owners should replace the air filter about once a month.

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What Is a MERV Rating?

The minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV, describes the ability of an air filter to block airborne impurities. Higher is generally better. This will cost you more money for higher quality air, though.

At the lowest end of air filter quality, MERV 1-4 air filters provide the least amount of protection. The filters can remove common allergens like dust mites, fibers, and pollen. They are not good for removing other types of things floating in the air. MERV 5-8 air filters can catch all these. They also block other types of impurities like mold spores and dust. This makes them much more useful for controlling indoor air quality.

The MERV 9-12 air filters capture smaller allergens, including pet dander. This means those with milder allergies can breathe more freely. The highest quality air filter ratings are the MERV 13-16. Air filters with this rating block even viruses and bacteria. This makes these air filters the best for those with breathing issues. However, before opting for one of the above, be sure to discuss your options with an HVAC contractor. Some filters with high MERV ratings are not the best match for your type of system. Using a filter with a MERV rating that is more than it can handle can lead to airflow issues, increased pressure within the system, and other heating and cooling issues.

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More Fur Means More Frequent Air Filter Replacements

All homes deal with indoor pollution, but those with pets have more problems. Having more pets reduces air quality. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove pet hair off carpets, sofas, bedding, and other surfaces. Replace the air filter more frequently than the manufacturer requires. After all, pet owners have an above-average amount of airborne impurities. This leads to your air filter clogging up more quickly. This is especially true if you have a fast-shedding, long-haired breed.


Types Of HVAC Filters

indoor air quality

Now you know what air filters are and why air filters are important. Different kinds of air filters have different kinds of pros and cons. So choose correctly. As a pet owner, you want filters that maintain indoor air quality and keep your HVAC system in good shape. Some air filters meet your needs better than others.

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1. Disposable Air Filters

For those with smaller budgets, then you may only be able to afford cheaper air filters. These are disposable units that usually have low MERV ratings. These are usually less effective. But keep in mind that these filters will need to be replaced more quickly than higher quality filters. This is because of the higher-than-usual amount of fur and other forms of dander your pet is shedding. The low upfront cost is offset by more money spent on maintenance.

2. HEPA Air Filters

woman suffering from allergies

High-efficiency particulate air filters, commonly called HEPA filters, are high-quality options that meet a demanding standard. These units trap up to 99.7% of impurities that are bigger than 0.3 microns. This is good enough to capture virtually all pet hair, as well as other common allergens. If your family has breathing issues, then it is certainly worth investing in this type of air filter. Just remember to regularly clean the unit to avoid clogs.

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3. Electronic Air Filters

HEPA filters are excellent on their own, but you have options for even greater protection. Consider electronic air filters, which can capture most impurities sized 0.1 microns or larger. One limitation of these top-of-the-line air filters is that pet hair can make noise during intake. Also, be ready to spend more on these air filters than ordinary HEPA air filters.



Take care of yourself so that you can take care of your pets. If you easily get serious breathing issues because of pet dander, you won’t be able to take care of your loved ones. Prevent these episodes through the use of reliable air filters for your HVAC system. Ensure that these filters can block most particles by getting the right type. Be sure to check their efficiency rating as well. Avoid disposable filters unless you can’t afford to spend more. HEPA filters and electronic filters are highly recommended. Look for high MERV numbers. These have much better filtration capacity.

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Townsend Energy guarantees heating and cooling service prices that are the most highly competitive. Our maintenance work can improve your comfort and your energy efficiency while reducing your home energy costs. If you happen to require repair or replacement of your HVAC system, we can make the best recommendation while keeping within your budget. We back all of our services with a guarantee to make sure you are satisfied. To schedule a service appointment, call Townsend Energy today. We provide free, in-home estimates.

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