Friday, May 4, 2012

Go Green By Switching to Permanent, Washable Furnace and Air Conditioning Filters

Over 95 million American households throw away disposable air filters on a regular basis. Stacked up, these filters would reach 6,000 miles high, or the height of 25,333 Empire State Buildings. Most of these filters are made from non-biodegradable spun fiberglass and are clogging up landfills.
Looking at the relatively small filter, homeowners may not appreciate the extent of the problem that these common products create for the environment. But, for a moment, try to get a mental image of the size of the stack of filters that every household throws away in a year's time. Now imagine every household on your street throwing away that stack of filters. Now imagine filters discarded by every homeowner in a town, a county or a state. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 95 million homes, or 86.1 percent of all occupied homes in the United States have a central heating system. (SOURCE: 2007 US Census Bureau American Housing Survey]) Homes with central heat or air conditioning systems require the use of at least one air filter and change the filters every three months. That means there is the potential of U.S. consumers disposing of 380 million air filters each year. A standard air filter is one inch thick. A stack of 380 million 1 inch thick filters would reach 32,666,666 feet or 5,997 miles high. That’s more than twice the distance across America or the height of 25,333 Empire State Buildings. The most common type of residential air filter is the disposable fiberglass spun filter readily found at most large retail stores. These air conditioning filters are non-biodegradable and take up a tremendous amount of room in our landfills.
Permanent, washable furnace filters have a lifetime warranty, provide much better filtration against dust and allergens and can simply be vacuumed or hosed off when needed. These filters are also commonly referred to as electrostatic furnace filters and lifetime furnace filters. They are made from non-corroding aluminum or stainless steel and are built to last as long as an HVAC unit with proper maintenance. Even better, they have 10 times the filtration capacity of a throwaway fiberglass filter. A good electrostatic filter is rated at 90% peak dust arrestance or higher using the ASHRAE 52.1 Protocol and will have an initial air resistance rating of 0.12" W.G. or lower. These filters do not require any electricity. They simply drop in the same slot where the disposable filter goes. A natural static charge is built when air passes through the special layer of self-charging mono-filament woven polypropylene. This results in dust and allergens being attracted to the filter.
Permanent, washable air filters generally cost between $40.00 and $70.00 and pay for themselves in about one year when compared to similar MERV 8 disposable filters. They are available in all standard sizes and can be custom made to any size in 1/8 inch increments. The aluminum frame comes in widths of ½ inch, 1 inch and 2 inches. By far, the most common size for household use is 1 inch. Permanent, washable filters can also be made with flexible woven frames so they can bend and twist to fit unusual applications. The air filter media generally comes in 3-stages or 5-stages.

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