How Much Does an HVAC Filter Cost?

by Team eLocal
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HVAC Filter Costs at a Glance

  • Disposable filters: $10-$50
  • Reusable filters: $60-$120

Your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system keeps you comfortable year-round, but you also need to give it a little TLC. Replacing HVAC filters regularly is a simple task that's crucial for preventing problems with your furnace and AC unit. If the filter gets clogged, it makes the system work harder, which can shorten its life or cause damage.

Every home maintenance task comes with a cost. Here’s how much it costs to buy replacement filters.

How Much Do the Different Types of HVAC Filters Cost?

Disposable, flat and pleated HVAC filters are the most common options available and generally range between $10 and $50 each, according to ClimateCare. You can find cheaper and more expensive options, though. The exact cost depends on various factors, including the material, design and MERV rating, which describes how efficient the filter is at cleaning particles from the air.

Flat filters are usually the cheapest option. Thicker pleated filters fall at the higher end of the price range. High-efficiency pleated filters with a high MERV rating typically cost the most compared to other disposable filters.

How Much Does a Reusable Air Filter Cost?

Reusable filters are special HVAC filters that you clean instead of replacing. Cleaning a furnace filter isn't difficult and can save you money over time, but these filters are usually more expensive initially. According to AQM, a reusable furnace or AC filter typically costs between $60 and $120. However, the reusable types last five years or longer if you care for them properly. In that time, you'll likely go through 20 to 60 disposable filters, so you can save significantly over the life of the filter by using a reusable filter.

What Factors Affect the Price of an HVAC Filter?

Several factors can cause the price of furnace filters to increase, including:

Size

A larger filter generally costs more than a smaller filter, even if they're made from similar materials. Filters come in a range of lengths and widths, and you must buy the size that matches your system. Refer to the manual or check along the frame of your current filters to find the measurements.

Thickness

The thickness of the filter is a related factor that impacts the pricing. Common filters are 1-inch thick. This is the cheapest option. Media filters are thicker — usually 4 or 5 inches thick — and cost significantly more.

MERV Rating

Air filter MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) ratings range from 1 to 20. They represent efficiency, with a higher number representing higher efficiency. Higher MERV ratings also increase the cost of the filter.

Flat Vs. Pleated

Flat, fiberglass filters are usually the cheapest option, but they have less surface area. Pleated filters are made of cotton, paper or polyester and generally cost more. They offer more surface area, which means they can collect more particles before they need to be changed.

Buying in Bulk

You can often save money on any type of filter if you buy in bulk. Many stores sell bulk packs that are cheaper per filter than buying them individually.

How Often Should You Replace an HVAC Air Filter?

The general recommendation is every three months, but the frequency can vary based on your situation. Thin, cheap filters often need to be replaced more often than thicker or higher-quality filters with more surface area to collect particles.

Your environment is also a factor. If you live in a dusty area, your home will have more dirt circulating and clogging the air filters, so you'll likely need to change or clean it more often. If you have pets, their hair and dander can also clog up HVAC filters faster.

The best way to determine when to change your filter is to check it once every month or so to see if it's visibly dirty and clogged. You should start to learn about how often your filters need to be changed based on your use and the environment in and around your home.

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