a close up of an HVAC air filter with the words Best Air Filter in bold written across the center

Furnace filters work to protect your heating and cooling system by trapping contaminants in the air. They’re an excellent addition to any temperature control setup, as they’re able to keep harmful contaminants from polluting your home.

However, when looking for a new furnace filter, you’ll want to search for an energy-efficient alternative that will save you money in the long run.

The Top Overall Energy-Efficient Furnace Filter

The best energy-efficient furnace filter overall is the Amazon Basics Merv 11 AC Furnace Air Filter. It’s highly efficient, durable, and offers a great value for the price. It also has superior air filtration and its MERV 11 rating ensures balanced air flow (higher MERV rating can restrict airflow).

Those with allergen sensitivities might find the Filtrete 1500 a better fit, while those looking for a reusable option should go for the Air Trophy Washable Electrostatic Air Filter. For the most affordable option, select the FIltrete Clean Living Basic Dust Air Filter.

Choosing the most environmentally friendly filter ensures that you’re not inadvertently driving up your energy bill. Instead, you’ll keep your air quality immaculate and your bills low.

Read on to learn why we’ve chosen these furnace filters as the most energy-efficient options for you.

Factors To Consider When Choosing an Energy-Efficient Furnace Filter

To determine which furnace filter is the best choice for your HVAC system, you must consider a few essential factors. However, as we delve into these general guidelines, we urge you to check your system’s manufacturer instructions before deciding. 

Required Maintenance

Cleaning (if reusable) or changing your energy-efficient furnace filter is crucial for protecting your HVAC. You can’t have the most efficient system without keeping your filter clean.

Over time, it’ll get clogged with all kinds of pollutants, including:

  • Dust
  • Hair
  • Pet dander
  • Smoke
  • Pollen
  • Bacteria and viruses
  • Mold
  • Dust mites, etc. 

It’s essential to wash or replace your filter often enough, especially if you have asthma or allergies. However, not all options on today’s market are created the same.

A homeowner replaces the filter of his energy-efficient furnace

For this reason, the first factor you’ll want to account for before reaching a decision is how easy long-term maintenance will be. 

If your air filter gets dirty quickly, your HVAC system and its circulation fan will need to work harder to draw the clean air through the filter. Therefore, more energy is expended, your furnace may shut down, and your bills will increase.

Additionally, if your filter is filthy for too long, there’s a higher fire risk. 

These factors are why choosing an easy-to-maintain alternative from the get-go can save you a lot of time, effort, and risk.

MERV Rating

This acronym stands for “Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value.” The MERV Efficiency Rating Scale ranges from 1-16 for home HVAC systems and from 1-20 for industrial or professional environments (e.g., hospitals that require the tiniest of particles to be trapped).

The higher the MERV rating, the more efficient the filter is at blocking smaller airborne pollutants from contaminating your HVAC system and indoor area. 

According to the EPA, MERVs “report a filter’s ability to capture larger particles between 0.3 and 10 microns (µm).” For example:

  • MERV of 1 to 4: Less than 20% chance of trapping particles with a 3.0 to 10.0-micron size. 
  • MERV of 10: 50-65% chance of capturing particles with a 1.0 to 3.0-micron size. And an +85% chance of trapping particles with a 3.0 to 10.0-micron size.
  • MERV of 16: +75% chance of capturing particles with a size of 0.3 to 1.0 microns.

As you can see, the higher the MERV rating, the more influential the filter is at trapping airborne pollutant particles of smaller and smaller sizes. 

But is a higher MERV rating the best choice? Not necessarily. A higher rating means the filter might be blocking too much air and straining your furnace. However, a MERV rating of 10 is generally sufficient for most household needs. 

You may also encounter the term MPR. It was coined by 3M and refers to micro-particle performance rating. Like MERV, MPR refers to a filter’s ability to capture differently sized particles.

However, MPR only focuses on the tiniest particles with micron sizes of 0.3-1.0.

Electrostaticity

Electrostatic filters are also known as washable (or reusable) filters. By washing them carefully, you can use these filters for much longer than their disposable counterparts.

These washable furnace filters tend to cost more upfront, but they pay for themselves through extended use. 

They have the following benefits, including:

  • Environmentally friendly as you can reuse them instead of throwing them out
  • Reasonably priced considering their longevity
  • Many washable filters have a lifetime warranty
  • Highly effective in trapping pollutants

How do electrostatic filters work? The science behind these filters is quite intuitive. They function by drawing pollutant particles towards them in the same way as a magnet. 

The airborne particles are electrically charged upon passing through the filter, while the plates are given an opposite charge. This charge results in the plates drawing the particles to them. 

Electrostatic filters are flat, whereas HEPA filters are pleated. Check out this video on YouTube to see how electrostatic filtration works.

HEPA Filters

HEPA stands for ‘high-efficiency particulate air filter’. Unlike electrostatic filters, the term HEPA refers to the filter’s efficiency level and not the material from which it is made.

A worker holds and displays a HEPA filter for an energy-efficient furnace

You can find HEPA filters made from a wide range of materials, including synthetic fibers, glass fibers, and metallic wools. 

These fibers are tangled together randomly and flattened into a sheet. This compressed sheet is then pleated to increase its ability to capture the most pollutant particles.

So, what exactly does “high-efficiency particulate air” mean? Only filters at the very top in terms of efficiency are labeled HEPA. These filters remove over 99% of airborne particles that are 0.3 microns or larger. 

US standards require HEPA filters to remove 99.95% of microns 0.3 microns and larger, whereas European standards require 99.97%. For comparison’s sake, human hair is around 70 microns thick, and an average piece of paper is around 100 microns thick.

Here’s a great YouTube video that gives you a rundown on HEPA and how it works:

HEPAs are the best filters for those with serious health concerns related to allergies, asthma, or other illnesses. However, even though they’re exceptionally effective in improving air quality, there can be downsides to going this route.

One issue with installing HEPA filters in your energy-efficient furnace is that it may struggle to pass air through due to its strength in filtering the tiniest of particles. The dense filtration material of these filters could be too thick for your home HVAC system.

And once your HEPA filter is clogged, it won’t be able to absorb pollutant particles as effectively. But are you able to clean them?

The jury is sort of still out on this. You can find some HEPA filters which say they are washable on the pack.

However, according to Molekule, there still isn’t a standard for reusable HEPA filters. For this reason, these varieties haven’t been studied and tested enough to determine how they perform after washing. 

HEPA is highly effective due to its fiber weave that captures particles. Through washing, you may damage the delicate arrangement of fibers. Tearing or stretching this mesh could lead to a less effective filter. 

However, suppose the filter packaging says it’s washable or permanent. In that case, you may get away with some gentle cleaning (such as dusting off, tapping off dirt, or running water through it) without causing too much damage.

Now that you’re equipped with all the knowledge you’ll need to make a well-informed decision regarding the energy-efficient furnace filter that will be best suited to your needs, it’s time to take you through some personal favorites.

Best Overall Energy-Efficient Furnace Filter: Amazon Basics Merv 11 AC Furnace Air Filter

If you want a highly-effective, high-quality filter with an excellent MERV rating, the Amazon Basics Merv 11 AC Furnace Air Filter is the best choice. It effectively captures allergens like dust, lint, and pollen the size of 3-10 microns, and is made from electrostatically-charged synthetic material.

Promo photo of the Amazon Basics Merv 11 AC Furnace Air Filter
Courtesy of Amazon

The Merv 11 is our best recommendation for the best overall energy-efficient furnace filter because of its outstanding value. For a decent price, you get balanced air flow (higher MERV or filtration can restrict airflow) and excellent air filtration ability.

This energy-efficient furnace filter is also easy to install and only needs to be changed once every 90 days. In addition, with such a high MERV, these filters are guaranteed to filter out particulate matter that filters with a lower MERV may miss.

It is available in six-packs of four different sizes. Here’s a breakdown of the measurements and price for each filter size:

Described SizeExact SizePrice
14″ x 14″ x 1″13.75 x 13.75 x 0.75 inches$32.03 ($5.34/count)
14” x 25” x 1″13.75 x 24.75 x 0.75 inches$46.60 ($7.77/count)
20” x 20” x 1”19.75 x 19.75 x 0.75 inches$42.12 ($7.02/count)
20” x 30” x 1”19.75 x 29.75 x 0.75 inches$56.19 ($9.37/count)
Bestseller No. 1
Amazon Basics Merv 11 AC Furnace Air Filter - 20'' x 20'' x 1'', 6-Pack
388 Reviews
Amazon Basics Merv 11 AC Furnace Air Filter - 20'' x 20'' x 1'', 6-Pack
  • AC/Furnace filter for capturing household irritants, improving air quality, and promoting furnace efficiency; 20 x 20 x 1 inch filters, 6-pack
  • Merv 11 rating for residential use; comparable to MPR 1000-1200 and FPR 7
  • Captures allergens between 3-10 microns including lint, dust, and pollen
  • Beverage board frame, wire mesh support, and electrostatically charged synthetic filter material
  • For optimal results change filter every 60 to 90 days
Bestseller No. 2
Amazon Basics Merv 11 AC Furnace Air Filter - 14'' x 14'' x 1'', 6-Pack
190 Reviews
Amazon Basics Merv 11 AC Furnace Air Filter - 14'' x 14'' x 1'', 6-Pack
  • AC/Furnace filter for capturing household irritants, improving air quality, and promoting furnace efficiency; 14 x 14 x 1 inch filters, 6-pack
  • Merv 11 rating for residential use; comparable to MPR 1000-1200 and FPR 7
  • Captures allergens between 3-10 microns including lint, dust, and pollen
  • Beverage board frame, wire mesh support, and electrostatically charged synthetic filter material
  • For optimal results change filter every 60 to 90 days
Bestseller No. 3
Amazon Basics Merv 11 AC Furnace Air Filter - 14'' x 25'' x 1'', 6-Pack
85 Reviews
Amazon Basics Merv 11 AC Furnace Air Filter - 14'' x 25'' x 1'', 6-Pack
  • AC/Furnace filter for capturing household irritants, improving air quality, and promoting furnace efficiency; 14 x 25 x 1 inch filters, 6-pack
  • Merv 11 rating for residential use; comparable to MPR 1000-1200 and FPR 7
  • Captures allergens between 3-10 microns including lint, dust, and pollen
  • Beverage board frame, wire mesh support, and electrostatically charged synthetic filter material
  • For optimal results change filter every 60 to 90 days
Bestseller No. 4
Amazon Basics Merv 11 AC Furnace Air Filter - 20'' x 25'' x 1'', 6-Pack
2,575 Reviews
Amazon Basics Merv 11 AC Furnace Air Filter - 20'' x 25'' x 1'', 6-Pack
  • AC/Furnace filter for capturing household irritants, improving air quality, and promoting furnace efficiency; 20 x 25 x 1 inch filters, 6-pack
  • Merv 11 rating for residential use; comparable to MPR 1000-1200 and FPR 7
  • Captures allergens between 3-10 microns including lint, dust, and pollen
  • Beverage board frame, wire mesh support, and electrostatically charged synthetic filter material
  • For optimal results change filter every 60 to 90 days

Best Allergy-Friendly: Filtrete Air Filter MPR 1500

Are you looking for an electrostatically-charged filter? The Filtrete line of products is an excellent choice.

The Filtrete Air Filter MPR 1500 has a MERV rating of 12, meaning that it’s effective enough to filter out the vast majority of pollutant particles without restricting airflow.

A homeowner replaces the Filtrete Air Filter MPR 1500 in her home's energy-efficient furnace
Courtesy of Amazon

What does MPR 1500 mean? If you read the section above on MERV, you might know that MPR refers to microparticle performance rating.

Its 3Ms indicate how sensitive a filter is to the tiniest of airborne particles (from 0.3 to 1.0 microns in size). MPR 1500 is comparable to MERV 12.

According to Filtrete, its line of electrostatic filters outperforms washable filters, fiberglass filters, and non-electrostatic filters. In addition, the Filtrete MPR 1500 comes in a wide range of sizes and features exclusive 3-in-1 3M filtration technology.

They’re also certified to be asthma and allergy-friendly. 

Additionally, because you only need to change them once every three months, the Filtrete MPR 1500 Air Filter is a more environmentally friendly option than other filters, which must be swapped out every month.

Another handy feature of Filtrete filters is that you can purchase the smart variety. The corresponding app (for Android and iOS) will alert you when it’s time to change your filter. 

If you want innovative, electrostatically-charged filtration technology that only needs to be swapped out once every three months, the Filtrete MPR 1500 is an excellent choice. What’s more, the smart app will notify you when you need to swap out your filter.

Most Afforable Filter: Filtrete Clean Living Basic Dust Air Filter

Looking for the most affordable energy-efficient furnace filter option? Then the Filtrete Clean Living Basic Dust Air Filter is for you.

Promo photo if the Filtrete Clean Living Basic Dust Furnace FIlter
Courtesy of Amazon

Though still electrostatic, this furnace filter is composed of polypropylene, which makes it considerably more cost-effective than the other options on our list. However, it still boasts great filtration performance with its MERV 5 rating.

This rating indicates it will effectively capture lint, household dust, dust mite debris. However, if mold is a concern, you should select one of the other filters on our list rating MERV 6 or higher, as that designation signifies effective removal or mold spores from the air.

Finally, this Filtrete furnace filter only needs to be replaced every 90 days, so it has the same lifespan as the other disposable choices we’ve included.

Here are the top 5 bestsellers for the Clean Living affordable series:

Bestseller No. 1
Filtrete 16x25x1, AC Furnace Air Filter, MPR 300, Clean Living Basic Dust, 6-Pack (exact dimensions 15.69 x 24.69 x 0.81)
129,523 Reviews
Filtrete 16x25x1, AC Furnace Air Filter, MPR 300, Clean Living Basic Dust, 6-Pack (exact dimensions 15.69 x 24.69 x 0.81)
  • OUTPERFORMS FIBERGLASS, WASHABLE AND NON-ELECTROSTATIC: 3-month pleated 1 inch air filters for your furnace, air conditioner or HVAC system
  • DESIGNED WITH EXCLUSIVE: Filtrete Brand 3-in-1 technology from 3M to trap unwanted air particles while letting cleaner air flow through
  • Attracts and captures large particles such as lint, household dust, dust mite debris and mold spores
  • MPR 300 has a rating of MERV 5
  • The higher the MPR, the more micro particles-such as pollen, pet dander, smoke, bacteria and viruses-your filter will capture from the air passing through it
Bestseller No. 2
Filtrete Clean Living Basic Dust AC Furnace Air Filter, MPR 300, 20 x 30 x 1-Inches, 6-Pack
614 Reviews
Filtrete Clean Living Basic Dust AC Furnace Air Filter, MPR 300, 20 x 30 x 1-Inches, 6-Pack
  • Electrostatically charged fibers attracts and capture large airborne allergens like: Pollen, Household Dust, Lint
  • Ideal for high-velocity heating and cooling systems
  • 300 MPR Performance Rating
  • Lasts up to 3 months
Bestseller No. 3
Filtrete 12x12x1, AC Furnace Air Filter, MPR 600, Clean Living Dust Reduction, 6-Pack (exact dimensions 11.81 x 11.81 x 0.81)
278 Reviews
Filtrete 12x12x1, AC Furnace Air Filter, MPR 600, Clean Living Dust Reduction, 6-Pack (exact dimensions 11.81 x 11.81 x 0.81)
  • OUTPERFORMS FIBERGLASS, WASHABLE AND NON-ELECTROSTATIC 3-month pleated 1 in. air filters for your furnace, air conditioner or HVAC system
  • DESIGNED WITH EXCLUSIVE Filtrete Brand 3-in-1 technology from 3M to trap unwanted air particles while letting cleaner air flow through
  • ATTRACTS AND CAPTURES large particles such as lint, household dust, dust mite debris and mold spores
  • MPR 600 has a rating of MERV 7
  • The higher the MPR, the more microparticles--such as pollen, pet dander, smoke, bacteria and viruses--your filter will capture from the air passing through it
Bestseller No. 4
Filtrete Clean Living Dust Reduction AC Furnace Air Filter, MPR 600, 16 x 25 x 1-Inches, 6-pack
379 Reviews
Filtrete Clean Living Dust Reduction AC Furnace Air Filter, MPR 600, 16 x 25 x 1-Inches, 6-pack
  • Filtrete Clean Living filters are electro-statically charged to help remove more particles from your air, attracting and capturing particles including: lint, household dust, dust mite debris, mold spores and pollen, from the air passing through the filter
  • Designed with Filtrete Brand 3-in-1 technology from 3M to pull in and trap unwanted air particles while letting clean air flow through
  • Microparticle Performance Rating 600
  • Outperforms non-electrostatic filters
  • Manufactured by 3M
Bestseller No. 5
Filtrete Healthy Living Ultra Allergen Reduction AC Furnace Air Filter, MPR 1500, 16 x 25 x 1, 6-Pack
369 Reviews
Filtrete Healthy Living Ultra Allergen Reduction AC Furnace Air Filter, MPR 1500, 16 x 25 x 1, 6-Pack
  • Featuring high performing electrostatic technology, Filtrete Healthy Living filters proactively attract and capture microscopic particles, including: smoke, cough and sneeze debris, bacteria and viruses along with large particles like lint, dust and pollen from air passing through the filter
  • Designed with Filtrete Brand 3-in-1 technology from 3M to pull in and trap unwanted air particles while letting clean air flow through
  • 3 times better at small particle capture compared to non-electrostatic pleated filters for the capture of 0.3 to 1.0 micron particles.
  • Outperforms fiberglass, washable and non-electrostatic pleated 1" filters
  • Carries a 1500 Microparticle Performance Rating (MPR) that equates to Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value MERV 12

Best Reusable Filter: Trophy Air Washable Electrostatic Air Filter

How about a more permanent, electrostatic solution?

The Trophy Air Washable Electrostatic Air Filter may be the option for you. Unlike the previously mentioned filters, you’ll easily be able to wash and reuse this energy-efficient furnace filter from Trophy Air.

Closeup on the Trophy Air Washable Electrostatic Air Filter
Courtesy of Amazon

Like the FILTI 7500, this filter is made in the USA, and like the Filtrete MPR 1500, it uses sophisticated electrostatic-ally charged technology. However, if you want to protect the environment by purchasing a reusable filter that lasts longer than three months, this could be the best option.

Made of high-grade materials, the Trophy Air Washable Electrostatic HVAC Furnace Air Filter features four layers of aluminum and two layers of electrostatic media. This high-quality design ensures that the filter lives up to its “permanent” marketing. 

These filters are also available in various sizes to suit your HVAC system. However, unlike the FILTI and the Filtrete options, the Trophy Air filter doesn’t list its MERV. Due to the feature of reusable, washable electrostatic technology, the MERV likely is less than 10.

Comparison of the Best Energy-Efficient Furnace Filters

SpecificationAmazon Basics Merv 11Filtrete MPR 1500Filtrete MPR 1000 Air FilterFiltrete Clean Living Basic DustTrophy Air Washable Electrostatic 
Filter typeElectrostaticElectrostaticElectrostaticElectrostaticElectrostatic
Reusable?No (lasts for three months)No (lasts for three months)No (lasts for three months)No (lasts for three months)Yes
MERV rating1112115Unknown
Smart technologyNoYesNoNoNo
DimensionsVarious Sizes Available10x20x1 or 25x35x1 inchVarious Sizes Available30x20x1 inch10x20x1 or 24x30x1 inch
Number of filters6-pack2-pack or 6-pack2, 4 or 6-pack6-pack1-pack
MaterialElectrostaticElectrostaticElectrostaticPolypropylene
Electrostatic and Aluminum

Key Takeaways

If you’re looking for the best energy-efficient furnace filter, you have a wide range of options. First, you can opt for a washable, electrostatic filter like the Trophy Air one.

This option will save you from throwing out your filters, but generally, reusable varieties don’t have as high a MERV as disposable ones.

However, that doesn’t mean you need to dispose of your filters every month. By choosing the Amazon Basics Merv 11 or the Filtrete MPR 1500 filter, you’ll get an exceptionally high MERV to keep your home’s air quality high while only needing to change it once every three months.

Sources

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