New choices available in air filters

Published July 9, 1994|Updated Oct. 7, 2005

(ran HC, HP, HL editions)

In the past, your choice of furnace and air-conditioning filters were quite limited. You could opt for the 50-cent disposable filter or the $500 electronic varieties.

Now, however, you can get a filter in the $10-$30 range that captures 94 percent of the dust, dander, pollen and other particles that float through your house, reports Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Of these new air filters, there are two types to shop for, pleated and electrostatic.

Electrostatic filters. When air passes through the fabric of these filters, it creates a small electrostatic charge. This charge acts like a magnet and traps small particles.

Self-charging electrostatic filters need no electricity to operate. Simply slide them in the slot where your regular filter fits. To clean, remove the filter and backwash it with a hose or shower. Cleaning is recommended about every 30 days.

These filters generally last 3-5 years. Prices range from $30 to $50.

Pleated filters. These are disposable, and they trap up to 95 percent of airborne particles. Their pleated contours and fine mesh fabric expand the total surface area used for filtering and help trap particles as small as 5 microns (about one-hundredth the size of the head of a pin). Some pleated filters also carry an electrostatic charge. Pleated filters cost from $6 to $20 and usually last up to three months.

Cutting back on indoor air particles brings relief for many allergy sufferers. Better air filtration will also reduce the amount of dusting you do in your home.

Another benefit is that your air conditioning and heating equipment stay cleaner and operate more efficiently.