6 Essential Summer Apps

6 Essential Summer Apps

For many of us our phone is an essential device that we are rarely without. They are even more useful when you take advantage of special mobile applications (apps) designed to make many aspects of our daily lives more simple. There are even apps that can help to increase efficiency and comfort in your Northbrook home this summer. Check out how these six innovative apps can make your summer a lot brighter.

NOAA

The NOAA weather app gives you access to 7-day forecasts for the USA and Canada. This app boasts its level of accuracy, and ability to provide forecasts that are relevant for the user’s location. This is important for helping you to plan your activities and even with programming your thermostat. There is even an hourly forecast feature so you can keep tabs on conditions throughout the day. This free app is available for iOS and Android systems.

Verde

Energy costs can skyrocket during Illinois’ hot, humid summers. The Verde iPad app by Verde Sustainable Solutions, helps you to find ways to save electricity in your home via an energy audit. It allows you to see how various activities or behaviors impact your energy usage. Of course, you have to weigh the cost of applying Verde’s recommendations against the savings they will provide. The app might encourage you to invest in more energy-efficient appliances. Even if you only implement some of what Verde suggests, you will still be able to save energy and also positively impact your environment.

HomeSavvy

Busy schedules mean it is quite easy to become overwhelmed by everyday tasks. The HomeSavvy app sets up a maintenance schedule for your household chores based on your response to a list of questions about your home. It can remind you when you need to schedule professional maintenance for your AC, or when you need to perform simple tasks yourself such as changing the air filters.

GrillTime

Cooking indoors can raise the temperature in your home, causing your AC to go into overdrive. When the weather is not unbearably hot outside, it is a good idea to shift some of the cooking outdoors. GrillTime helps you to get that chicken or steak grilled to perfection. Within the app, select the type of meat, its thickness, and how well you want it cooked. The app’s timer will help you to achieve that ideal summer meal.

GrillTime is for iOS. If you want a grilling app for your Android phone, check out Steak Timer Plus. This app helps you to keep track of various preferences so that you can fix the perfect steak, chicken, or burger for everyone.

A Thermostat Control App

Your air conditioner creates a refuge for you from muggy summer weather, but your cooling needs can send your energy bills through the roof. Use an app on your smart device to control your Wi-Fi thermostat from afar. A Wi-Fi thermostat will allow you to adjust the thermostat setting as needed, so your home’s temperature is always as desired.

BreezoMeter

Poor air quality can lead to serious health problems, such as shortness of breath and eye and throat irritation. For those with serious respiratory problems such as asthma, poor air quality has even more serious implications. Download BreezoMeter to check the air quality index for your area. This handy app even has personalized health recommendations related to air quality.

Though there is nothing you can do about the general quality of outdoor air, there is much you can do about the quality of air in your home. Frequent dusting, proper disposal of waste, and reducing or eliminating the use of harmful chemicals are ways you can improve the quality of the air in your home. A professional will be able to properly assess your home, and identify problems and recommend solutions.

These apps designed for convenience, can help to make the hot season a little more bearable. Many of these apps can result in savings as they increase efficiency not just with regard to your systems, but with regard to your time as well.

Contact Roberts Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. at 847-562-5292 for more information about effective ways to beat the summer heat. Our cooling solutions and systems provide reliable and affordable relief for your home or office. We have been providing service to Northbrook and surrounding cities since 1979. Call us today, we look forward to serving you!

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Is Your Home Energy Efficient? An Audit Will Decide

Is Your Home Energy Efficient? An Audit Will Decide

Roberts Heating and Air Conditioning Energy AuditKeeping your energy bills low in our climate means squeezing all the benefits you can out of the electricity and fuel you use. A professional home energy audit will determine if your home is energy-efficient by uncovering ways you can squeeze even more value out of that energy used. By making home improvements to save energy, you will feel more comfortable and save money, too. In fact, making the improvements your energy audit suggests could cut between five to thirty percent off your energy bills, depending on your home’s current efficiency level.

Home Energy Audits Do More Than Save Money

Check the Internet or any home improvement magazine and you will find that there is no shortage of tactics for improving a building’s energy efficiency. The problem with sourcing ideas this way is that you can’t be sure which solution is relevant for your home’s needs. In some houses, air leakage is the biggest cause of energy loss, while in others, old appliances or a lack of insulation is the main problem.

What to Expect From a Home Energy Audit

During a home energy audit, an experienced heating and cooling technician will comprehensively inspect your home, covering all the areas that may be wasting energy. The technician will perform a number of tests and, at the end of the audit, provide you with a list of recommended efficiency improvements based on hard data about your home. You will be equipped with the knowledge you need to get the most bang for your home improvement buck.

Plugging up your home’s energy leaks not only lowers the cost of heating, cooling and running your other appliances, but it also has benefits you can feel. Efficiency-boosting improvements can solve comfort problems like uneven temperatures, chilly drafts, cold walls, and air that is too humid or dry.

An audit can also uncover problems in your home that have gone unnoticed so far, such as moisture damage and mold growth. You will be able to discover issues while they are still relatively minor.

How a Home Energy Audit Spots Waste Problems

To begin the audit, your experienced technician will interview you about any energy-related difficulties you have been experiencing and about your lifestyle habits. Your energy bills for the last 12 months will then be reviewed. The technician will visually inspect your home to take note of its features, such as its square footage, and number and type of windows. After this, several tests will be performed with specialized equipment.

  • Measuring air leaksAir leaks around windows, appliance vents and other areas add up to a lot of wasted conditioned air. All this waste forces your furnace and A/C to use more energy to maintain your temperature. To measure your home’s air leakage, the technician will perform a blower door test. A large fan, or blower door, will be set up in an exterior doorway to make the extent of your air leakage easier to measure. Caulk, weatherstripping and spray foam insulation can be used as appropriate to block the leaks so you can enjoy more of your heated and cooled air.
  • Uncovering insulation problems – Adding insulation where necessary keeps more of your heated air inside for longer in winter and keeps the sun’s heat out longer in summer. Your furnace and air conditioner won’t have to work as hard to maintain comfortable temperatures. To accurately pinpoint your home’s areas of radiant heat loss and gain, the audit tech will scan your home with an infrared camera. The resulting images show different temperatures in different colors, indicating exactly where energy waste is occurring. These are the areas that could be improved by adding insulation.
  • Evaluating appliances and lighting – Your technician will test the performance of appliances to see if you could benefit from upgrading to newer, more efficient models. Home lighting will also be reviewed because it can account for 10 percent of your energy bill. Switching to or other efficient lighting can keep your home just as bright for less money.

Contact Roberts Heating & Air Conditioning to learn more about how you may benefit from a home energy audit. Check out our other energy-saving solutions, or give us a call at 847-562-5292 to schedule an appointment for your Northbrook area home!

Don’t Base a New Air Conditioner on the Price Tag

Don’t Base a New Air Conditioner on the Price Tag

If this is the year you replace your aging air conditioner, congratulations! You have many high-quality, high-efficiency systems available to choose from. Replacing your AC with the best, most efficient and most cost-effective system requires a careful look at first costs and lifetime costs. The following brief guide can help you understand the differences between these types of expenses and give you information you need to make a better-informed decision on your AC replacement.

The Difference Between First Costs and Lifetime Costs

A/C replacementWhen buying a new air conditioner or any sort of HVAC equipment, first costs are those expenses associated with purchasing the equipment and ensuring that it’s installed properly. Some sources equate first costs with the sticker price of the equipment alone, but there are other costs that may have to be accommodated before the AC replacement is in place and functioning correctly.

Lifetime costs include the initial costs, plus those expenses that are incurred during the operation of the air conditioner over its functional lifetime — from the moment it is first turned on to cool your home to the time when it is replaced by another AC system. This includes maintenance, energy and repairs.

Typical First Costs

  • Price of the equipment – This refers solely to how much the AC equipment costs when purchased from a dealer or contractor. The price of the equipment can be affected by multiple factors, such as the brand name, quality and the system’s energy efficiency rating. Regional differences in price can also affect this cost, as can sales or discounts provided by the seller, tax incentives offered at the federal or local level, or the time of the year when the equipment is purchased. For example, cooling systems may cost less when purchased in the middle of winter rather than at the height of the summer heating season.
  • Installation costs – Air conditioners and other HVAC systems must be properly installed by trained and knowledgeable professionals to ensure the equipment works correctly and safely. An improperly installed A/C system could provide hazards for electrical shock or fire. If not installed correctly, the equipment won’t perform at its best. Installation is often included in the price of a system, but ask the seller to be sure.
  • Duct system revisions – Some revisions of the ductwork system in your home may be necessary when purchasing a new air conditioner. Higher-efficiency models, for example, may need smaller ducts that reduce the possibility of air loss. The cost of revising ducts is a legitimate first cost.
  • Structural revisions – Similarly, some structural revisions may be necessary to fit new equipment into your home or to otherwise accommodate an A/C replacement. If so, they fall under the heading of first costs.

Typical Lifetime Costs

  • Ongoing monthly expenses – The amount you pay each month for cooling is part of the system’s lifetime costs. Monthly expenses usually refer to the electrical energy required to keep the air conditioner working on a month-to-month basis. These can be affected by the cost of electricity in your area, how much you run the equipment, and whether you can run the system on fan-only during some periods.
  • Supplies – Some supplies will be necessary over the lifetime of the air conditioner. Most notable among them are air filters that must be changed regularly, often about once a month. The refrigerant that circulates through the AC system and allows for heat capture and release must sometimes be refilled, especially if there has been a refrigerant leak.
  • Preventive maintenance – Your air conditioner will need regular preventive maintenance to keep the system working properly and at its highest level of efficiency. Most often, cooling systems should be inspected and maintained in the spring or just before cooling season begins. Maintenance appointments can be paid for individually, but you may be able to save a significant amount if you get a service contract from your local trusted HVAC services provider.
  • Repair – Over its lifetime, your cooling system will inevitably need some repairs to put it back into operation. A well-maintained system is likely to need fewer repairs, however. At the same time, a well-maintained AC in good condition will usually cost less to fix when repairs are needed.

Learn more about AC replacement, first costs and lifetime costs, as well as air conditioner solutions available from Roberts Heating & Air Conditioning, or give us a call at 847-562-5292 to schedule an appointment. We provide top-quality HVAC services to the northern Illinois communities of Northbrook, Glenview, Evanston and surrounding areas.

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Maximize Energy Efficiency With Summer DIY Tasks

Maximize Energy Efficiency With Summer DIY Tasks

Roberts Heating & Air ConditioningHVAC systems comprise one of our biggest budget items each month. Energy efficient improvements can chip away at that monthly amount over the year and in Northbrook, where winter and summer can get uncomfortable, DIY improvements can legitimately help to bring down energy bills. Below are relatively simple, affordable projects that you can do to stay more comfortable and keep your energy efficiency in check.

Tighten Up the Attic

Some of the easiest and most affordable energy efficient improvements you can make are in the attic. Improvements here not only keep indoor temperatures more stable and reduce the load on the furnace and air conditioning, but they also protect your home from potentially expensive damage.

The cool air produced by the HVAC finds its way out of every crevice it can, entering the attic and seeping out through through the roof. From there, it’s lost through the roof and the HVAC has to worker harder to replace that lost air and maintain your home’s temperature.

Warm air entering a cold attic also causes condensation. This moisture on the wood attic structure, insulation and drywall can cause these surfaces to mold or rot.

To make matters worse, a warm attic will allow water to stay pooled. This pooled water can damage roofing and cause roof leaks.

Energy efficient improvements in the attic also minimize the effects of the summer sun beating down on your roof. On hot summer days, the temperature in the attic can exceed 150 degrees. If there’s nothing to hold that heat back, it radiates into your rooms and makes for more work for your air conditioner.

Sealing air leaks is the first job to consider. Gaps and cracks around the attic allow for unnecessary airflow between the attic and your rooms. Leaks commonly occur around:

  • The attic hatch
  • Where the walls and floor meet
  • Around kneewalls
  • Around dropped soffits
  • Around recessed lighting
  • Around anything that penetrates the attic floor (pipes, wiring, vent stacks)

First, take care of the bigger gaps, those from 1/4-inch to 3 inches, by sealing them with expanding polyurethane spray foam. Gaps around flues and chimneys can be closed with metal flashing for fire safety reasons. Most cracks of less than 1/4 inch can be sealed with acrylic latex caulk. For metal, silicone is a better choice.

Your next step is upgrading the insulation. Attic insulation keeps more heat in your rooms in winter and, in summer, it defends air conditioned rooms from heat coming through the roof. In the Northbrook area, attics should have a level of insulation in the R-38 to R-49 range. If you have fiberglass batt insulation, you should have a layer between 12 to 16 inches thick. Adding more is one of the easiest and most cost-effective energy efficient improvements you can make.

If you choose to add fiberglass or cellulose batts, you can do the job yourself without special equipment apart from appropriate clothing and eye protection. Loose-fill (blown-in) cellulose insulation is another option. Made of small chunks of fiber, this material fills in small corners and crevices to provide a more efficient layer of insulation. To install it, you’ll need a blower machine.

Improve and Repair Air Ducts

Because the furnace and air conditioner depend on the air ducts, energy efficient improvements you make to the ductwork boost the efficiency of your entire heating and cooling system. If you have certain rooms that are hard to keep warm or cool enough, you may find improvements to the ducts help.

Air leaks in the ducts let heated or cooled air escape while also letting in air contaminants from inside the walls, attic or wherever else the ducts pass. In the average home that hasn’t been upgraded for efficiency, the ducts leak 15 to 30 percent of the air flowing through them. The more air escapes before it reaches your rooms, the more your system has to produce to make up for the loss. That, of course, increases your energy use.

Leaks commonly occur when the points where the ducts connect to the air handler, to each other, and to the registers and vents don’t fit tightly and aren’t sealed. Leaks can also come from damage caused during installation or remodeling, or by pests. Joints should be fit correctly and duct connections sealed with mastic sealant.

To help your home’s ductwork maintain the temperature of the air they carry, install R-6 duct wrap or a similar R-level of fiberglass batt insulation. This is one of the simple energy efficient improvements to reduce the load on your cooling and heating systems.

Upgrade Doors and Windows

Around 10 to 15 percent of the average home’s energy loss is caused by the windows. Inefficient doors, too, are prone to air leaks that waste energy. Making energy efficient improvements to these parts of your home helps you maintain your indoor temperatures and minimizes chilly drafts.

If your home’s window frames and exterior doors are rotting or warped, they should be replaced, ideally with Energy Star-qualified models. If they’re still in good shape, check for air leaks by holding a smoke pen or lit incense stick up to the frames on a windy day. Leaking air will blow the smoke around. These leaks can be sealed with caulk and weatherstripping.

  • Caulk – Use a caulk gun to apply a continuous bead of caulk between non-moving surfaces such as door and window frames. Latex acrylic caulk is a good choice for wood frames, while silicone caulk is better for metal frames.
  • Weatherstripping – These strips of foam, vinyl, rubber, metal or other material are used to create a seal between moving surfaces, such as the inside tracks of sliding windows. Vinyl gaskets and tension strips work well on double-hung windows, sliding windows, and metal window casements. For door sides, vinyl gaskets are a good choice.

Review Floor To Ceiling For Gaps

Doors and windows aren’t the only places that can leak air. Gaps and cracks in other parts of your home also waste conditioned air, let in contaminants and excess humidity, and cause uncomfortable drafts. Use the same method you used to find leaks around your doors and windows to check:

  • Baseboards and crown molding
  • Electrical outlets and switches
  • Points where pipes, wires and appliance vents penetrate exterior walls
  • Kitchen and bathroom ventilation fans
  • The fireplace

Leaks in these areas can be sealed with latex acrylic caulk. Larger gaps can be stuffed with cellulose or cotton insulation, then sealed with caulk or foam spray insulation. Insulating gaskets are available for outlets and switches.

After air sealing, consider adding insulation. For the most accurate assessment of the insulation levels in your walls, contact a heating and cooling professional to conduct an energy audit. The technician will take infrared images of your home that highlight areas of energy loss. Loss from the walls and floors can be minimized by improving the insulation. Loose-fill insulation makes this job easy because this material can be blown in through relatively small openings.

Check Basements and Crawl Spaces

Just like the rest of your house, your basement is likely to have small air leaks that make it harder to maintain indoor temperatures. Check for leaks around penetrations for wiring, plumbing, gas lines and appliance vents. These can be sealed with caulk or spray foam insulation.

The rim joists should also be insulated. You can do this by cutting rigid foam insulation to fit against the rim joists in the spaces between the floor joists. Seal the insulation by running a bead of caulk around the edges.

Take a look at the insulation levels in your crawl space, too. The walls should have at least an R-25 level of batt or rigid foam insulation. That’s around 10 inches of fiberglass batts or 8 inches of rigid foam. If you have less than this, adding more will help keep your floors warmer in winter. Once you have enough insulation, add a layer of 6 mm plastic sheeting to the floor to create a vapor barrier that reduces the risk of moisture damage. If you’ve used rigid foam insulation, the edges of the sheeting can be sealed into place with foam spray insulation.

Learn more about DIY energy efficient improvements and HVAC system maintenance at Roberts Heating & Air Conditioning and call us at 847-562-5292 today for an appointment.

Year Round Healthy Indoor Air in Northbrook

Year Round Healthy Indoor Air in Northbrook

Roberts Air Conditioning and HeatingWhether it is a cold, dark winter or a hot, sticky summer, the quality of your indoor air is severely compromised without proper home ventilation. Sufficient, controlled, clean airflow throughout your home is critical to your family’s health when your all closed up and the air conditioning or heating system is running full speed.

Several methods of home ventilation are available and every system should be designed by an experienced ventilation professional to suit the building’s construction and the homeowner’s needs. While there’s no single best solution to ensuring good airflow, understanding why ventilation is so important and how different home ventilation methods work will help you choose the right system for your needs.

To Better Health and Fewer Maintenance Issues

Quality ventilation provides Gulf Shores homeowners will several benefits, including:

  • Healthy Home – Protection for your health is arguably the greatest benefit you’ll receive from good ventilation. Every home, no matter how clean, is at risk for a buildup air contaminants. Some, such as pollen and pet dander, affect primarily those with allergies, asthma or another respiratory condition. Others, such as carbon monoxide (CO) from fuel-burning appliances, mold spores, household pest debris and car exhaust particles, pose a health hazard to everyone. Exposure to mold spores, for example, is known to increase of upper respiratory tract infection.Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are another air quality concern. These airborne chemical fumes are produced by many household items and materials, such as carpets, upholstery, treated wood, paint and adhesives, particularly when new. Formaldehyde, benzene, styrene and many other VOCs have known negative health affects.While a higher-efficiency HVAC air filter removes many contaminants, it can’t remove them all. A well-designed home ventilation system more efficiently draws out stale air and brings in healthy indoor air. It also removes VOCs and other gaseous pollutants an air filter can’t trap.
  • Smelly Home – Most odors aren’t harmful, but they’re not exactly pleasant to live with. Ventilation is essential for removing the odors that come from the kitchen, bathrooms and elsewhere. If you have pets, sufficient airflow is even more important for keeping your home’s air smelling good.
  • Humid Home – Coastal Alabama’s high humidity can cause problems in any season. In summer, it leaves you feeling hot and sticky, meaning you’re likely to lower the air conditioner’s thermostat to get comfortable. In winter, excess humidity gives your home a damp, chilly feeling, causing you to turn up the heat. Sufficient ventilation helps keep your home’s humidity at a stable, healthy level. You’ll feel more comfortable and need less cooling and heating.
  • Moldy Home – Beyond causing discomfort, high humidity also poses a threat to your home. Excess moisture damages wood, drywall and insulation. It can cause paint to peel and metal window frames to rust. Worse yet, it encourages mold growth. Mold inside the ceiling, walls and floors eats away at the very structure of your home, potentially causing major damage before you realize it’s there. Proper home ventilation removes not only the excess moisture, but also the mold spores.

Economical, Eco-Friendly Natural Ventilation

Thanks to two natural phenomena, it’s possible to create airflow throughout your home without using electric fans. There are two main methods for achieving somewhat controlled natural ventilation.

  • Wind-driven ventilation – This method relies on wind currents to blow fresh air in and stale air out. Open windows are the most rudimentary form of natural ventilation, but windows let in a lot of air contaminants and humidity, and create drafts.Trickle vents let the wind ventilate your home without these drawbacks. These narrow vents are around 12 to 16 inches long and usually installed above windows. They let air in and out, yet keep out larger air contaminants particles and prevent drafts. Static vents are another option for airflow where there are no windows, such as in the attic. These vents are simply openings with grates that hold back air contaminants and break up drafts.
  • Buoyancy-driven ventilation – This ventilation method takes advantage of convection, or the tendency for warm air to rise due to its lower pressure. Vents on the lower levels of the house draw in cool, fresh air, while open stack, turbine or other non-motorized vents on the roof or in the attic let out warmer stale air.These home ventilation systems are relatively simple to design and install, and they cost nothing to operate, but they’re also unreliable. The amount of airflow your home receives depends on each day’s wind speed and temperature, so you may go days without sufficient airflow.

Spot Ventilation: Fresh Air for Small Spaces

In many homes, natural ventilation is helpful, but it’s not enough to ensure high indoor air quality. For this reason, building codes require spot ventilation in the walls of the kitchen and bathrooms. The fans are large enough to pull out stale air fast. Most bathrooms need a fan that can draw out 50 or 20 cubic feet of air per minute, while the average kitchen needs a fan that can pull 100 or 25 cubic feet of air per minute.

The vent hood on a cooking range is another type of spot ventilation. These motorized fans can be turned on and off as needed. Using kitchen and bathroom fans after cooking and showering quickly removes odors and excessive moisture. Using a range hood minimized the odors, moisture and smoke particles that build up in the kitchen in the first place.

As useful as spot ventilation is, however, it can’t improve the indoor air quality in your whole home. These fans are meant to remove a buildup of moisture or contaminants over a few minutes. Because they also let in a small amount of unfiltered outdoor air, the shouldn’t be left running for long. Doing so will end up letting in more air contaminants than you let out.

Letting exhaust fans run too long also creates negative air pressure inside the house. This can cause appliance exhaust fume to backdraft into rooms, as well as exacerbate air leaks, drawing in contaminants from outdoors.

Provide Every Room With Clean Air

Because natural and spot ventilation usually aren’t enough to provide sufficient ventilation by themselves, many homes benefit from a whole-house ventilation system. These come in three main forms:

  • Exhaust-only – This system uses multiple exhaust fans, in addition to those in the kitchen and bath, to pull out stale air. It relies on air leaks to let in fresh air, so you’ll still have some of the problems associated with air leakage and air pressure imbalances. These systems are best used in cooler climates.
  • Supply-only – Supply ventilation systems use fans to bring in fresh air, allowing you to filter and dehumidify the incoming air. Because they don’t create negative air pressure, they won’t draw appliance exhaust fumes into your home. These systems are also better suited to warm climates than are exhaust-only systems. The drawback is that you won’t have much control over how you get rid of your stale air.
  • Balanced systems – Using both supply and exhaust vents connected via a duct system running throughout your home, these home ventilation systems move equal amounts of both incoming fresh air and outgoing stale air.They give you precise control over the airflow in your home and have far fewer air contaminants entering. You can thoroughly air seal your home to make it easier to heat and cool so you can save energy without sacrificing airflow. Due to their advanced capabilities, however, they’re more complex to design.By choosing a balanced system, you also have the option of installing an energy recovery ventilation (ERV) system. These systems contain equipment that allow them to transfer heat and moisture between the incoming and outgoing air streams. In summer, they remove heat and humidity from the fresh outdoor air to help keep your home cool. In the winter, they salvage heat from the air leaving your home and move it into the incoming air to reduce the load on the heating system. Although these systems help manage humidity, they can’t replace a dehumidifier.

To learn more about effective home ventilation, call us at 847-562-5292. Roberts Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc. has been serving Northbrook communities for more than 35 years.

Choosing the Right HVAC Air Filter

Choosing the Right HVAC Air Filter

Roberts Heating and Air Conditioning Air FiltersChanging your HVAC system‘s air filter regularly is one of the most important things you can do to keep the system working right. But choosing the right air filter is also important, and if you’re like a lot of homeowners, you haven’t a clue which is best for your household or your HVAC system.

The right air filter can play a dual purpose: not only will it protect the system from dirt that builds up and makes it harder for the A/C or furnace to work efficiently, but a good quality filter can also improve the indoor air quality of your home.

Let’s have a look at what constitutes a good quality filter, and then you’ll have a better idea what to choose.

Not All Air Filters Are Alike

You’ve no doubt noticed when you buy air filters that some cost more than others. What’s the deal with these better quality filters, and are they really worth the extra cost?

If you’ve been using an inexpensive fiberglass filter, you should be aware that all it does is catch some of the larger particles that are drawn into your system’s air supply. These inexpensive types get dirty fast and should be checked at least once a month and changed when dirty.

Move down the aisle where filters are sold and you’ll see slightly more expensive types. These air filters are pleated and made of cotton fibers or polyester. They do a much better job of filtering smaller size particles, so they can catch some of the pollutants that may be difficult for your family members to breathe.

What Are Air Filter MERV Ratings?

The HVAC industry rates air filters by a metric known as the minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV. The scale represents the filters’ ability to trap particles from 0.3 to 10 microns in size.

Here’s a rundown of what the various sizes of filters will do:

  • MERV 1-4: Filters intercept particles greater than 10 microns, including dust, pollen, dust mites, cockroach debris and carpet fibers.
  • MERV 5-8: Filters intercept particles from 10 to 3 microns, including mold, pet dander, spores and dust mites.
  • MERV 9-12: Filters capture lead dust, Legionella and other particles from 3 to 1 microns.
  • MERV 13-16: Filters intercept particles 1 to 0.3 microns, including bacteria, smoke and insect dust.
  • MERV 17-20: Filters trap viruses and other particles less than 0.3 microns. They are rarely used in homes. Instead they’re used in hospitals and research settings.

Filters rated higher than 12 aren’t good choices for the typical residential HVAC system, as they reduce airflow. Should someone in your home have allergies or a respiratory issue and need better filtration, ask your HVAC consultant about modifications to your system that will allow denser filtration.

Types of Air Filters

The better quality filters mentioned above are mostly made of very dense layers of material and are pleated to provide more material for filtration. But there are other very effective types of air filters you may want to try:

  • Gas phase activated carbon filters: These remove tobacco smoke and other vapors from the air.
  • Electrostatic filters: Electrostatic filters stop particles by means of static electricity generated in the material of the filter as the air is drawn through it. These can be disposable or permanent, though the latter requiring washing. The washable filters last for several years.
  • Electronic filters: These rely on a transformer to provide a negative electronic charge, which traps the dust particles as they pass through. These filters usually have a collection plate or other grounded surface. The plates or surfaces must be cleaned regularly to be effective. These filters are expensive, but they do a good job removing particles.

Change the Air Filter Frequently

Whatever type of air filter you choose, remember to check it frequently and change it when it’s dirty. Dirty air filters not only cause your system to work harder, but they also cost you more to operate the HVAC system, as well as increase your carbon footprint by forcing the system to use more energy.

For more information on choosing the right air filter for your home, contact Roberts Air Conditioning. We guarantee satisfaction to our Gulf Shores customers.