Allergy season is upon us!
Or is it?
The allergens you are exposed to at home are related to the pollen and mold count outdoors. When you are outside or at work you mostly need to rely on medication to help you make it through the day.
However, your home is its very own ecosystem when it comes to allergens. Having the right furnace filter and keeping up on the maintenance of your ventilation system is a big part of managing allergy symptoms at home.
This page provides an overview of everything you need to know to find the right furnace filter to help manage your allergy symptoms. Furnace filters help reduce your exposure to indoor allergens when the filter captures these airborne particles out of the air.
You may already familiar with the relevant information to make an informed choice about purchasing a furnace filter. If that is the case, you can skip ahead to our top furnace filter picks with MPRs over 1500 or MERVs 13 and higher by clicking here.
Home Furnace Filters
Furnace filters are designed to keep your ductwork free from buildup and obstructions. Over time your furnace filter captures dust and other debris from the air like it is supposed to. The more the filter captures, the harder it is to push air through it. This means it is important to regularly check and maintain your furnace filter.
Different furnace filter manufacturers have different recommended replacement timelines. This can also be different from style to style. Knowing how often you will need to replace your filter has a big impact when estimating the annual cost of using a certain type of furnace filter.
Another thing to consider is the MERV or MPR rating. MPR stands for Microparticle Performance Rating. MERV is an abbreviation for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. There are long lists of technical aspects associated with each of these.
What is the difference between MPR and MERV?
They are the same thing. Both of these abbreviations are talking about how efficient a filter is at removing particles of a certain diameter from the air. MPR was coined by the company 3M and MERV was defined by American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers or ASHRAE.
Furnace Filter Ratings and Allergies
For the purposes of allergy relief it is enough to know that the furnace filter requires a minimum MPR of 1000 or a minimum MERV of 11. Later on in this article we recommend higher MPRs or MERVs than these two numbers. This is because at slightly higher ratings you get closer to 100% capture of allergens. Much higher will not produce significant changes in your indoor air quality.
Check out the section below for a guide.
What allergens can a furnace filter help with?
A filter with an MPR of 1,000 like the Filtrete Micro Allergen can be expected to filter out the following airborne particles and allergens:
- Lint and Household Dust
- Dust Mite Debris
- Mold Spores
- Pet Dander
- Smoke and Smog
This is very close to what a MERV 12 filter can do. The only difference is that a MERV 12 filter is not rated to remove smoke and smog from the air.
Filters with an MPR of 1550 like the Filtrete Healthy Living Ultra Allergen filter remove the items listed above. They also capture:
Cough and Sneeze particles
To remove proplet nuceli, or sneeze droplets, from the air you will need a filter rated MERV 13 or higher. If removing the bacteria from the air in your home is a necessity then look for a MERV 15.
Interestingly, if you check out this chart it shows a requirement of MERV 19 to remove unattached viruses from the air. MERV 19 is much higher than the MPR 1550 we saw in the Filtrete example above. The difference is that a MERV 19 will remove all the viruses while the MPR 1550 is able to remove some but not all.
If you use a filter with a MERV that is too low it may not even be filtering out what you expect it to. As an allergy sufferer this is especially important to know. For general indoor air quality a MERV of 9 – 12 is fine, but if you need some heavy duty allergy relief we suggest something in the 13+ range.
It can get tough keeping track of expenses and MERVs and even the correct sizing of your furnace filter. Check out the information below for an easy to use guide that sorts a huge amount of information about furnace filters and allergies.
Washable and Electrostatic Furnace Filters
A quick note on washable filters and electrostatic filters. We generally do not recommend washable furnace filters. There is nothing wrong with a washable filter, it might even save you money in the long run. However, they will not filter as well because they have lower MPR and MERVs. If you are looking for allergy relief in a furnace filter you will not find it in a washable filter.
Electrostatic filters are also something you may come across while searching for a new furnace filter. There is nothing wrong with electrostatic filters. But, be aware of the MPR or MERV. It does not matter what features or functions the filter has, it must have a high enough MPR or MERV to filter out allergens.
How we do our reviews
The reviews below will plainly list out the following:
- The MPR or MERV of the filter. This can be difficult to find depending on the furnace filter manufacturer. To keep things simple we will only list MPRs over 1500 or MERVs 13 and higher. Either of these values will filter all common allergens including:
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
- Sneeze or cough droplets
- The actual size of the filter. This rarely matches the advertised size of the filter.
- The annual cost of using this type of filter. When the manufacturer give a range of replacing the filter every 6 to 12 months we let you know.
So let’s get to it! Below is a selection of our picks for the top furnace filters for allergies on the market.
The Best Furnace FIlters for Allergies: A Review
We selected a single furnace filter from each of the manufacturers listed below. Filters in the same series will have the same characteristics. For example, all Filtrete Healthy Living Ultra Allergen air filters will be MPR 1550 even though they may come in different sizes to fit different furnaces.
Filtrete Healthy Living Ultra Allergen
Nordic Pure MERV 13 Plus Carbon Air Filter
Carrier / Bryant GAPCCCAR1625 Evolution
Other Allergy Resources
Check out our other review articles focused on reducing allergy symptoms!
Allergies and Essential Oils – Can an essential oil diffuser help? Read more to see how they can.
Dehumidifiers for allergies? – Everyone knows that air purifiers are great for removing allergens from the air. But what about a dehumidifier? They help a lot when managing mold and dust mite populations.