MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value.
The MERV rating is a filter comparison system designed by an industry group called the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Simply put, it's a rating scale designed to allow consumers to easily compare the performance of one filter to another. Higher ratings mean the filters remove a larger percentage and broader range of debris from the air. Another way of thinking about it is the higher the MERV rating, the smaller the particles it can trap.
Matching the right MERV rating to your needs will improve your home's air quality and will extend the life of your furnace or air conditioner. An air filter with a rating of MERV 8 will remove lint, household dust, pollen, dust mites, and mold spores. MERV 11 filters add pet dander, smoke, and smog to the list. MERV 13 filters will also remove bacteria and virus carriers. This means the MERV rating you should use depends on the air quality of your home or business and the needs of the people in it.
A higher MERV rating means that your air filter can remove more particles – allergens, pollution, viruses, and bacteria – from your indoor air. Cleaner air creates a healthier environment. However, trapping more particles from your air makes your air handler work a bit harder, so you may see a modest increase in power consumption by your air conditioning or furnace when choosing a higher MERV rating. It may also put a bit more stress on your unit's blower motor, which is why determining which MERV rating is best for your home or business is a very personal choice. You must balance your air quality needs with your energy consumption.
Replacing your air filter regularly, regardless of the MERV rating
Check out our Helpful Tips for guidance on when to replace your air filter.
Learn about the differences between MERV rating, MPR, and FPR.