If you're one of the millions of Americans who suffer from allergies, you know how miserable they can be. The sneezing, congestion and itchy eyes can make life a total nightmare.
One of the best ways to combat respiratory allergies is ensure your home has the best indoor air quality. . The best way to ensure good indoor air quality is to make sure to regularly change your air filters, to have good air flow and to maximize filtration of the allergens from your home. But with so many options available, which one is right for you?
In this post, we'll discuss the best air filters for allergies and help you choose the one that's right for you.
Allergies are a reaction of your immune system to a foreign substance, also known as an allergen. These substances, such as pollen, pet dander, and dust mites, can be found in the environment.
When you come into contact with an allergen, your body releases histamines which cause the symptoms of allergies. Although allergic reactions can be bothersome and impede daily activities, most are mild. Rarely, a severe reaction known as anaphylaxis might occur.
Main Allergy Symptoms Include:
- sneezing and an itchy, runny or blocked nose
- dry, red and cracked skin
- swollen eyes or face
- wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and a cough
- itchy, red, watering eyes
Air Filters vs. Air Purifiers for Allergies
When it comes to reducing allergies, you have two main options – air filters and air purifiers.
The most significant distinction between air filters and air purifiers is the area they cover. Air filters installed in your HVAC system can filter the air throughout the entire house. This will ensure your home is safe
An air purifier, on the other hand, is a device that can be used in a specific room, such as a nursery, bedrooms or the room of a person with allergies, to more effectively remove allergens. There are a number of technologies that purifiers utilize to remove the allergens.
Filter based purifiers use multiple filters to trap the various allergens. These could include a filter to trap dust and large particles, a MERV 13 filter (minimum efficiency reporting value) captures smaller particles like mold and bacteria. These filters need to be replaced regularly for them to be effective. Electrostatic, ionic or plasma purifiers use an electric field to attract and either destroy or trap the allergens onto metal plates within the purifier. These plates can be rinsed off every few weeks and thus keeping costs low. These filters are not as effective at removing the allergens and often produce ozone which can be hazardous. UV based purifiers use Ultraviolet light to destroy airborne microbes such as dust mites, mold, bacteria and viruses. Some of them may produce ozone. Newer purifiers based on photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) transform faseous pollutants into harmless byproducts such as water and carbon dioxide using a photocatalyst and UV light. The PCO purifiers often produce pollutants such as formaldehyde and ozone as byproducts.
If you need extra air purification in a specific space, such as a nursery or the room of a person with allergies, an air purifier is an excellent solution. These purifiers often use multiple technologies, may have an inbuilt air quality sensor and could be controlled using your smart phone. These devices are highly portable and basic models can be bought for an inexpensive amount..
On the other hand, a MERV 13 air filter (the highest grade HVAC filter for homes) installed in your home will trap 98% of particles between the sizes of 0.3 and 1 micron in each pass, and it will do this for all of the air in your home. If the HVAC fan is kept running, the air can be pass through the filter multiple times keeping air always clean.
HEPA filters cannot be used in the HVAC systems because they restrict the air flow. However, by keeping the fan on and using a MERV 13 filter the air can be cleaned rapidly. If needed, additional filtration can be had by a room air purifier. This may be specially benefical in bedrooms, bay rooms etc. ,
So, which one is better for allergies?
Air filters are the better option if you're looking to reduce airborne allergens in your home as a whole. They're less expensive than air purifiers and don't require replacement cartridges. However, air purifiers are more effective at reducing odors and chemical pollutants in a smaller radius of your home - think bedrooms or offices.
Tips for Choosing an Air Filter for Allergies
If you have allergies, choosing an air filter that will effectively remove dust mites and pollen from your home is important. You want something that will keep your house clean and free of allergens.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing the right air filter for allergies.
Consider the Particle Sizes Trapped by the Filter
Some air filters trap large particles, whereas others trap smaller particles. Make sure the filter that you choose traps both big and small particles.
Types of Allergy Symptoms You Experience
Do you suffer from sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, runny nose, congestion, or sinus problems? If you do, look for an air filter that has been specifically designed to treat these symptoms. Given that allergies are becoming a frequent factor for individuals needing a higher-quality air filter, you can often find air filters that mention specific types of allergies so that you know with confidence the filter will help to alleviate your allergies.
Minimum Efficiency Rating Values, or MERV ratings, are values issued to air filters to assess their efficiency in removing particles from the air. Filters with higher MERV ratings are better and more efficient.
Most air filters for residential applications come with a rating of MERV 1-13. These numbers indicate how much dirt and debris the filter can trap. The higher the number, the more the filter will capture. Depending on the severity of your allergies, the efficiency rating of the air filter you purchase can make a significant difference to the air quality of your home. We recommend using a MERV 13 filter for your home.
Below is a quick breakdown of the different MERV levels and what they mean.
MERV 1-4: Large particles such as carpet fibers, dust mites, pollen, dust, and textile fibers are typically removed by filters with an MERV rating of 1 to 4.
MERV 5-8: Mold spores, hairspray, and even cement dust are commonly captured by MERV 5 to 8 filters.
MERV 9-12: Filters with an MERV rating of 9 to 12 can remove exhaust fumes, lead dust, and certain germs.
MERV 13: Filters with MERV ratings of 13 to 16 can eliminate tobacco smoke, microorganisms of all varieties, and even the residue left in the air after a sneeze. These are unquestionably the best air filters for allergy and asthma sufferers.
Alternative Ways to Alleviate Allergies in the Home
In addition to using an air filter, a few simple housekeeping habits can reduce allergies in your home. For example, you can vacuum frequently, dust frequently with a damp cloth, keep pets out of the bedroom, and wash bedding in hot water once a week.
Here are a few other tips for minimizing the allergens in your home:
Maintain your HVAC System
One of the best things you can do for your allergies (and your health in general) is to maintain your HVAC system.
- Clean the air ducts, vents, and registers regularly.
- Change your air vent filters as recommended if you suffer from allergies.
- Look for leaks in the ductwork. Not only can ductwork leaks affect the performance of your HVAC system, but they also let in impure air.
- Have the HVAC system serviced at least once a year by a professional.
Check your Furnace
If you live in a cold climate, check your furnace periodically. Make sure that the blower motor is running smoothly. Check the thermostat settings to make sure that they are correct. Also, check the temperature gauge on the side of the furnace.
It should read between 60°F and 80°F. If the temperature is too low, turn up the heat. If the temperature is way too hot, turn down the heat.
Check your Heat Pump
Heat pumps are very similar to furnaces in that they also need regular maintenance. Check the compressor to see if it's making any unusual noises. If it is, take it to a professional service technician right away.
Keep your Thermostat Fan setting on “Always On”
Another great way to reduce the amount of allergens that are in your home is to chnage the thermostat Fan setting on “Always On”. This ensures that air is circulating and getting filtered even though you do not need to either cool or heat your home. This may be especially useful during the Spring Pollen season or during Fall.
Run a Fan
Another great way to reduce the amount of allergens that are in your home is to run a fan in conjunction with your air conditioner. It may sound silly, but when you can run your air conditioner on low, or even have stints of time where it’s completely off, you reduce the number of pollutants and allergens that are in your home.
While it may seem silly to run a fan rather than an air conditioner unit, the reality is that a fan can help keep a space cool by circulating cool air, and it can do so without introducing any new pollutants or allergens.
Check your AC Unit
Your air conditioning unit needs regular maintenance. You should check the evaporator coil to make sure that it isn't clogged. If it is, run a dehumidifier over it until the coils are clear again.
You can also check the condenser fan blades to make sure that they aren't broken. If they are, replace them.
Clean your Air Ducts
You should have your ducts cleaned at least once every five years. Have your duct cleaning company inspect each area of your home to make sure that there are no leaks.
While this is one of the more tedious tasks you can do to improve your allergies within your home, it can be one of the most beneficial. Air ducts can wind up extremely dirty from the dust and pollutants that pass through a filter. After a while, it’s not unusual for there to be dirt and dust built up in the ducts, meaning that forced air will push these pollutants out through the vent.
The best time to change your filters is after the first week of spring. That's because new plants release pollen into the air during this period.
For best results, we recommend changing your filter every three months. This will ensure that your filter is always working at peak efficiency and capturing all the allergens in your home. The frequency that filters need to be changed can also depend on the number of people that live in a house, the number of animals in the house, and the level of sensitivity to allergens in the air. In those instances, you may need to change your filter more frequently than every three months.
Don’t Forget About Pets
Many pet owners don't realize that pets can cause allergies as well. Dogs and cats produce allergens that can trigger allergic reactions in humans, but they can also bring allergens from the outdoors into your home. Wiping paws down and brushing your pets outdoors can help reduce the amount of dander and allergen that gets brought into your home.
Alongside that, if you have a pet that has long hair, we recommend brushing them regularly and doing so outdoors. By reducing the amount of hair that they shed in your home, you can reduce the severity of your pet allergies.
Stay on Top of Air Filter Change Dates
If you want to reduce allergies in your home, it's important to stay on top of air filter change dates. We recommend changing your filter every three months to ensure that it's always working at peak efficiency. By changing your air filter regularly, you can help reduce the amount of allergens in your home and create a healthier environment for your family.
In the case that you struggle with remembering to change your air filter regularly, take a moment and check out the air filter subscription service offered by Airzey.When you enroll in this subscription service, you can ensure you have brand new air filters at your door when it’s time to replace your air filters.
Add a Humidifier or Dehumidifier
The amount of humidity in the air has a significant impact on the quality of the air. When the relative humidity falls below 30% or rises beyond 50%, it generates an atmosphere that promotes mold growth and increases the number of dust mites.
Allergy symptoms such as a sore throat and congestion can also be worsened by dry air.
A full house humidifier can be fitted within the HVAC ducting to treat a household of up to 6,000 square feet. A bypass humidifier is the most frequent type of whole-house humidifier. Depending on where you live, a dehumidifier may be required throughout the summer.
Are Allergy Filters for the Home Worth the Investment?
Higher MERV ratings also signify higher prices and, in some situations, higher energy consumption because the unit finds more resistance when drawing in air. They are, however, a good investment if you struggle with allergies throughout the year. By choosing to invest a little more in your air filter, you are also investing in your quality of life, which is truly priceless at the end of the day.
Air Filters from Airzey
If you or a family member suffers from asthma, installing filters with a higher MERV rating could be a solution. As part of a heating and cooling system or an actual air purifier, the finest air filters for asthma in your house are those that can catch and keep allergens away from your family.
At Airzey, we have a wide variety of allergy-friendly air filters to choose from, so be sure to visit our website today. Not only will you find the perfect air filter for your home, but you'll also get expert advice on how to maintain your HVAC system and keep your family healthy all year long.