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There are many levels of furnace filters. I can get cheap ones at walmart of a few bucks. Then there are ones that cost upwards of $30. I realize that if you have allergies or low immune systems, these are probably worth it. Also if you have pets they may help. But for average folks, with no medical needs, are they worth the cost?

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The problem with the really cheap filters is that you really should replace them monthly. The slightly more expensive filters often only need to be replaced every 3 months or so, which in reality doesn't actually make them that much more expensive.

I usually go with the cheapest 3 month filters, since I know I'm not going to get down there every month to replace the super cheap ones. Aside from that consideration and the ones you already mentioned, there's no need to spend lots of money on a top of the line filter. They aren't going to make your furnace last any longer.

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For the heat mode they are ok, for cooling I like the old horse hair reusable types we sprayed with sticky stuff, they filtered better as they got dirty and allowed air to flow for the AC mode.

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  • "they filtered better as they got dirty". Can you share any citations or studies that can explain this?
    – alt
    Jul 23, 2014 at 14:43
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NEVER use a high MERV rating 1 inch filter in any furnace. Filters with MERV ratings above 6 restrict air flow too much and cause expensive repairs. If you have a 5 inch filter frame installed, you can then use the higher MERV filters without problems.

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  • Actually, most of that's a function of your ducts, as they determine how much static pressure margin your system has to accommodate a tighter filter... Nov 30, 2018 at 0:26

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