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Air Purifiers Are Actually Worth It: Here’s Why

hands adjusting an air purifier screen and putting it back on

Are air purifiers worth it? Do you need a high-efficiency HEPA air purifier? What about MERV ratings – are they important? These may be the questions on your mind as you start researching air purifiers.

If you suffer from asthma, allergies, or are just looking to improve your indoor air quality, you may be wondering if an air purifier is worth the investment. We are here to help dispel some of the myths and give clarity on what you should be looking for when purchasing an air purifier.

Here’s what makes air purifiers so effective at improving your indoor air quality.

Do Air Purifiers Work?

Simply put, air purifiers (sometimes called air cleaners) work to improve air quality by filtering out pollutants and allergens from the air. Air purifiers work by using a fan that pulls in air from the surrounding area. Then it passes the air through a filter or series of filters, where air pollutants and particulate matter get trapped. Finally, the clean air is pushed back into the room.

These filters are designed to remove allergens, dust, pollen, spores, and other airborne particles from the air. Some may even capture odors, and inactivate viruses and bacteria.

Are Air Purifiers Safe?

Air purifiers are a safe way to improve your indoor air quality. In general, they do not emit any harmful chemicals or gases into the air. Today, we spend most of our time inside, where the air is often more polluted than outside. Air purifiers clean the air of particulate matter, improving air quality and reducing health risks.

Are Ozone Generators Safe?

It’s worth noting, however, that not all air purification systems are created equal. Certain purifiers, known as “ozone generators”, produce the compound ozone, a highly reactive gas that serves to clean the air by latching onto molecules like mold, smoke, and other pollutants and eliminating them.

Ozone gas can be harmful to health, damaging the lungs and causing a range of different symptoms. According to the EPA, some studies show that ozone concentrations produced by ozone generators can exceed health standards even when following manufacturer’s instructions.

So when choosing an air purifier, it’s best to avoid ozone-generating systems.

Health Benefits of Having an Air Purifier

For air cleaners that don’t function by generating ozone, there are many health benefits that come with cleaning the air in your home. Here are a few of the major benefits:

  • Reduce allergens in the air: Air purifiers can remove a variety of allergens from the air, including dust mites, pollen, and pet dander. This can be beneficial for people who suffer from pet sensitivities to those who get seasonal allergies.
  • Kill airborne microbes: Some air purifiers are made to kill microbes. Not only can they capture and remove the germs from the air, but some can kill the virus or bacteria. This may help reduce the spread of illnesses, especially during cold and flu season.
  • Reduce harmful chemical pollution: Air purifiers can also remove harmful chemicals and volatile organic compounds from the air. These chemicals can come from cleaning products, building materials, and even furniture.
  • Eliminate smoke and odors: Air purifiers can also help to eliminate household unpleasant odors, and smoke such as those from cooking, smoking, or fires.
  • Remove mold: If you live in a humid climate or have had water damage in your home, you may have a problem with mold. Air purifiers can help to remove mold from the air, protecting you from its harmful effects.

Do air purifiers help with allergies?

As many as 30% of adults in the U.S. suffer from allergies. Fortunately, air purifiers can help with allergies by trapping various allergens such as pollen, dust mites, and pet dander.

Do air purifiers help with dust?

Air purifiers can also help by reducing the number of dust particles in the air. This can be beneficial for people who are sensitive to dust or who have asthma or other respiratory conditions.

Do air purifiers help with smoke?

Smoke can cause a variety of problems for people, including irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. It can also worsen asthma and other respiratory conditions. 

If there is a smoker in your household, or if you live in an area that is prone to wildfires, an air purifier can help to remove cigarette smoke and airborne pollutants from the air, potentially lessening the effects of secondhand smoke. They can also help to remove the smoke generated from cooking.

Do air purifiers help with COVID-19?

During COVID-19, with people spending much of their time indoors, it’s even more important to have a high-quality air purifier. Air purifiers with a MERV 15 rating, such as the Infinity® Air Purifier can help reduce airborne viruses, potentially including the SARS-CoV-2 virus. While they are not a guarantee that you will not get sick, air purifiers can help to reduce your risk of exposure.

Where is the Best Place to Put an Air Purifier?

Air purifiers can come as portable air purifiers, or be installed as part of your HVAC system.

In general, the best place for a portable air purifier is to be on the wall and to ensure no furniture or other objects are blocking the airflow. This will allow the air to circulate in the room most easily. A filter can be placed in your HVAC system, or a portable air purifier can be placed in the room.

If you have a portable air purifier, it’s best to place it at least a foot away from any walls or furniture, so that it can evenly circulate the air. Avoid placing air purifiers in corners.

What to Look For in an Air Purifier

When selecting an air purifier, here are some things to look out for:

  • An air filter with a high MERV rating: The higher the MERV rating, the better the filter’s efficiency. The Infinity® Air Purifier comes with a MERV 15 rating, capturing up to 95% of particles.
  • HEPA filter if your HVAC system can accommodate one: However most residential HVAC systems cannot, which is why a filter with a high MERV rating is preferable.
  • An air filter that traps and kills microbes: Electrically charged filters or those that use ultraviolet light are the most effective at doing this.
  • Low noise: You don’t want an air purifier that is so loud that it will disturb you while you are trying to sleep. Whole-air purifiers are typically the quietest.
  • Low maintenance required: Some air purifiers require frequent maintenance, such as changing the filter every few months. Others are designed to need minimal maintenance.

How Much Do Air Purification Systems Cost?

Whole-house air purification system costs vary and are dependent on your HVAC systems capabilities.

  • If your system is capable of handling a higher MERV-rated filter the cost is simply the upgraded filter.
  • If your system is capable of handling a higher MERV-rated filter but would need some ductwork modifications, the cost for the filter, assembly housing, and any ductwork modifications can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000.
  • If you are looking to upgrade the air filtration abilities of your HVAC system, a professionally installed electronic air filter (like the Carrier Infinity® Air Purifier) can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 depending on each system and installation requirements.

The main factors that will influence the cost of HVAC air filters are the type of filter, the size of the unit, and the features that are included. For instance, a HEPA filter, which can trap up to 99.97% of particles, will cost more than a flat filter.

Installation costs will also vary depending on the type of system that you choose. Likewise, portable air filter costs depend on the unit’s capabilities, with costs ranging from $50 to over $500 per unit.

Are Air Purifiers Worth it?

If you’re wondering if air purifiers are worth it, consider these scenarios:

  • Do you or someone in your home have allergies, asthma, or respiratory issues?
  • Do you live in an area with high air pollution?
  • Do you live in an area with a lot of wildfires?
  • Do you have a smoker in your home?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then investing in an air purifier can mean investing in your long-term health and wellbeing. What you gain in health benefits may be worth much more than the initial cost of the air purification system.

Air Purifiers Can Help the Efficiency of Your HVAC

Air purifiers can also help extend the life of your HVAC system by reducing the amount of dust, debris, and particles that pass through the blower motor, therefore increasing the long-term efficiency of your unit. Better efficiency means lower energy bills and longer HVAC lifespans.

“Filters for HVAC systems are like masks for your face. An N95 is going to stop more particles from flowing into your lungs than a cheap cloth mask. Similarly higher grade filters will stop more junk from passing through your system than lower grade filters.”

– Jacobs Service Technician

How Jacobs Can Help Install Your Air Purifier

If clean air is a non-negotiable for your home, an air purifier is a must. When looking for the best air purifier for your home, Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning can help. 

We understand the importance of having clean air in your home, and as HVAC experts, we can get you set up with the right system for your needs, so you can breathe easily. If you’re concerned about the air quality in your home, don’t hesitate to contact us today, and we’ll be happy to answer any of your questions.

About the Author

Amanda Jacobs portrait

Amanda Jacobs, Internal Project Manager

Amanda Jacobs is an Internal Projects Manager and 3rd generation member of Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning. She received her MBA from Seattle University and has worked for a leading HVAC training and consulting firm. When not talking HVAC on the Jacobs Blog, you can find her on the golf course or whipping up her famous vegan chili.