Indoor Air Resources

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What Do Your Air Filters Really Cost?

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By: Robert Martin, Associate Category Manager, Kimberly-Clark Professional Partnership Products  |   08.07.14

No, it’s not the price you see on your invoice. In fact, the purchase price of an air filter is only a fraction of its total lifecycle costs and pales in comparison to the energy costs associated with air filtration. A good understanding of the various costs involved over the lifecycle of an air filter is the first step toward getting more for your money. 

Studies have shown that investment and maintenance count for about 18.5 percent of the cost to operate a filter, while energy accounts for about 81 percent of the annual cost. 

The Value of Energy Savings

The cost-savings stream associated with energy can be estimated by examining the impact of a filter’s airflow resistance. With a lower resistance to airflow, the HVAC system needs to overcome less resistance to deliver the required airflow, thus reducing the system’s energy consumption. 

Unlike filters made with media that uses only mechanical methods of particle capture, filters made with media that also incorporates an electret charge have less resistance to airflow, thus reducing electricity costs in use while maintaining high particle capture efficiencies. 

The following example compares two commercially available filter products that are identical except for initial airflow resistance. Filter A utilizes mechano-electret media while Filter B utilizes mechanical-only media. While a $29 difference over the course of a year may not seem like a huge savings, keep in mind that this is the cost for only one filter. Multiply it by the number of filters in your unit and you’ll see how the savings can add up.


Filter A

Filter B




Filter Style

12” Deep Rigid

12” Deep Rigid

Media Area

120 sq. ft.

120 sq. ft.

Initial Airflow Resistance

0.45 in W.G.

0.65 in W.G.

Final Airflow Resistance

1.50 in W.G.

1.50 in W.G.

Dust Holding Capacity



Filter Life

12 months

12 months

Energy Cost:



Calculation: Energy Consumption = Q*dP*t/n/1000Assumes 24/7/365 operation, energy cost of $0.08/kWh, fan, motor, drive efficiency (n) of 58%

 NIMB: Not in My Budget

It’s important for everyone involved in facility management and maintenance to understand the nuances of air filtration costs. In many cases, one department (and budget) may be responsible for purchasing air filters and filter service contracts while another is responsible for energy expenditures. 

The problem inherent in this system is that the filter purchaser can easily and innocently make a costly decision for the enterprise by choosing to purchase filters without considering their energy consumption implications, or worse, their impact on air quality and tenant satisfaction.




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