Optimizing MERV-13 Filter Exchanges

A Case Study Balancing Air Quality with Energy Usage In a University Building

Indoor air quality monitoring is a leading concern as we return to the workplace and learn to live with COVID.
We investigate how facilities can economically use the highest quality filters while maintaining their systems.

A Changing Landscape. Several factors have coalesced in recent years that affect HVAC filter optimization. COVID-19 has brought indoor air quality to global attention, introducing the need for MERV-13 or comparable filters. We should anticipate that the need for these high cost filters will remain. Automation can be achieved at a cost that is now negligible compared to potential filter cost savings: Building Automation Systems (BAS) can record and track energy usage within their component parts, or Aftermarket smart devices can be installed to track energy usage of individual AHUs.

How do we minimize cost on the HVAC systems? The total energy cost for an HVAC system is a sum of the energy used by the fan motors, and the cost of the filter in the air handler unit (AHU). As the filter clogs, the fan motors require more energy, but the amortized cost of the filter goes down. The optimal time to change the filters is when the total cost is at a minimum.

In this case study, SRT Labs estimates that a mid-Atlantic university could save approximately $150,000 every other year by only changing existing MERV-13 filters when necessary, rather than on a fixed schedule.

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