When it comes to protecting your home from wildfire smoke, you need a serious filter. The best filters have a MERV (Minimum Efficiency Report Value) rating of 13 or higher. Our top picks for the best furnace and air conditioner filter are CAL16 and CAL20, which include an absorbent carbon layer and offer the highest level of protection. Available in more than a dozen sizes, the Filtrete AC furnace air filter is our best overall furnace replacement filter.
Its high-efficiency MERV-12 rating makes it a great choice for homeowners who want to trap as much debris as possible in the air. MERV 1 is the most basic filter that only filters particles larger than 10 microns in size, while MERV 16 filters capture particles as small as 0.30 to 1 micron in size. If you're looking for a qualified filter, we recommend the Nordic Pure MERV 12, which is often less expensive than other options. Additionally, two other filters that are also OK are Honeywell's FPR 9 filters and Filtrete's MPR 1500 filters.
The most basic disposable furnace filters are made of fiberglass and only capture larger dust and dirt particles. If you can't find Nordic Pure in your size, or if you prefer to buy a new filter in a store right away, these two options are widely available in retail stores. Regularly changing your furnace filter is important to maintain the air quality in your home and the efficient operation of your HVAC system. Compared to the cheaper basic filters available, medium-efficiency MERV filters such as the Nordic Pure MERV 12 can greatly reduce airborne dust, mold spores, pollen and even smoke, and doing so can help alleviate respiratory ailments.
An alternative to disposable options is a washable furnace filter like this True Blue option, which can be rinsed and reused for up to a year. If you want to reduce odors in your home, consider an odor-reducing filter such as this Arm & Hammer option. Most residential spaces work best with filters that are between seven and 12 on the MERV scale, and this FilterBuy air filter has an eight. All disposable filters have a manufacturer-recommended replacement program, but how often you need to replace your furnace filter depends on usage and lifestyle factors.