Spend a little more on your air filters, save on your total cost of ownership (TCO)

Did you know that spending a little more on the initial cost of an air filter may save you more money in the long run? When companies purchase air filters, they tend to concentrate on the initial cost of the filter, but this ignores more important factors such as the cost of labour, maintenance, energy, and waste, among others. As a result, property managers or facilities managers could end up spending much more money in the long run. The best philosophy is to ensure that users pay the least amount possible for the usage of their air filters in a given application, regardless of the initial cost. In this article, we will examine why it’s important to know the total cost of ownership (TCO) of air filters, including all the costs incurred over their entire life cycle

How is it possible that a $5 air filter can actually cost you $130?

Calculations for the cost of air filters must take into account the time and effort required for maintenance. For instance, if you were to have a filter on the roof of a 50-story building, the cost of the ownership of the air filter would include the time it takes for the maintenance worker to pick up the filter, go up the elevator, open up the unit, and replace the filter. This can take many hours and be very expensive, especially when you have to change 50 filters or even 100 filters. In such cases, it’s more cost-effective to have maintenance workers focus on other essential tasks. This can be achieved by purchasing long-lasting air filters.

Save energy with better air filters

In addition to the cost of labour, the total cost of ownership for air filters includes energy, waste disposal, shipping charges, and the carbon footprint of manufacturing and delivering the filters. The energy use component is, in fact, the most expensive factor to consider when calculating the total cost of ownership.

Replacing an energy-inefficient air filtration system with a highly efficient one can save 50% to 70% on the total cost of ownership over 5 years. Even if the filters being replaced are relatively high quality, the savings may not be as much but can still be 30% to 40%.

It’s important to note that ordering more filters means more emissions and pollution from the trucks delivering them, as well as from the manufacturing of the raw materials and finished products. This leads to a higher carbon footprint and may result in additional costs, such as a carbon tax imposed by the government. Moreover, ordering more materials also contributes to the amount of waste generated.

The TCO of an air filter is 70% related to energy consumption, 15% to the purchase cost-13% is the replacement cost of the filter and 2% labour & disposal cost

Reallocating labour

Building owners pay their staff hourly rates or salaries, but it’s important to consider whether their time is being used effectively. By doing fewer filter change-outs, companies can save up to 60% on labour costs. This means that maintenance staff can focus on more pressing tasks like electrical work or plumbing issues that directly affect building occupants. While the initial cost of the filter may seem like an insignificant expense, the overall cost of air filter maintenance can add up quickly.

When using a VFD (Variable Frequency Drive)-controlled fan coupled with an air filter designed for energy efficiency, it is possible to save up to 50% in energy, but many businesses run their filters until the maximum pressure drop. Viewing a pressure drop chart based throughout a filter’s life shows it is not a straight line but usually a gradual increase, and at a certain point, a higher rate of increase happens. Changing out a filter before this “higher rate increase” decreases the energy cost of the filter, saving you money.

The question is how big the ramp-up curve is. The longer it takes a filter to reach the higher rate of increase, the longer the filter will last in a system, and the better the energy savings.

The lowest average pressure drop greatly affects the performance of the air filter. If the average pressure drop is lower, it will ensure that you stay within the required parameters for a longer period and save a significant amount of energy.

The average pressure drop is a number that is determined over a certain period. It is an independent statistic that an air filter expert must utilize as a measurement on-site to determine when to change-out filters. After evaluating the filters, they can test them to show the user how much they can save.

Not only does a lower average pressure drop lead to energy savings, but it also results in cost savings in general. A longer-lasting filter saves labour, reduces energy consumption, and reduces waste. The longevity of the filter affects all three factors, i.e. labour, energy, and waste. The longer the filter lasts, the lower the average energy consumption, which means less labour is required to change-out filters. As a result, staff can spend more time on important tasks. Moreover, less waste is generated because fewer filters are disposed of. This reduces the need for staff to deal with filter ordering, transporting them around the building, and disposing of them once they’re done.

How important is waste, and what is its impact on the total cost of ownership of air filters?

The total cost of ownership (TCO) calculation does not factor in waste as a significant cost, but reducing waste is crucial for environmental sustainability. Even a small decrease in waste can lead to better environmental sustainability, as fewer bins of filters need to be disposed of.

Many companies strive to become more sustainable for various reasons, such as being better corporate citizens, improving the environment, receiving tax credits and incentives, or enhancing their corporate image. However, they need to pay more attention to the waste aspect of this initiative. Sustainable associations like LEED, WELL, and BOMA seek to reduce waste, no matter how small or large, as every little saving adds up to a significant reduction in the end, be it filters, plastic knives and forks, air filters, or anything else.

A company that wins an award from a sustainability-focused association can put up a plaque on their building’s façade or in the lobby to demonstrate their commitment to a sustainable world. This can be good PR and even make the company more attractive as an investment. It can also help get higher scores and points from associations such as BOMA.

If a company invests in sustainability, not only does it save on operational costs, but it also helps in branding. Having a commitment to sustainability can improve a building’s image, which can lead to an increase in tenant interest in leasing space. Tenants may feel good about contributing to sustainability efforts, which can enhance their own brand. All of this also makes companies more attractive to investors. Stocks from companies with a sustainability component usually perform better.

Life cycle costing software (LCC) is a tool that helps determine the cost of air filters and air filtration systems over time. Camfil’s LCC software is based on real-life situations and tests, taking into account factors such as the filter’s lifetime curve of efficiency and pressure drop. One of the best features of the LCC software is it uses the actual curved pressure drop readings of filters as opposed to a hypothetical straight line. This results in a close estimate of how long a filter will last. Camfil guarantees pressure drop and energy consumption performance estimated in LCC.

In addition to LCC, there is also the Quick Cost Calculator. This tool allows commercial facility supervisors to compare the costs associated with different pleated panel air filters or pre-filters. By specifying the number of filter openings, annual filter changes, and cost per filter unit, the Quick Cost Calculator provides cost comparisons for various filter types. This is a practical way to assess installation, labour, and waste disposal costs related to air filter replacements.

What is the “CamTester,” and how can it help your company save money?

The CamTester is an advanced field testing device used for air filters. It allows for real-life verification of air filter performance by comparing actual pressure drop and airflow for various filter products. Companies use the CamTester to compare lab testing data and vendor literature claims and make an informed decision on which filter is best suited for their facility.

To consult with an air filtration expert who specializes in TCO, please use this contact form.

About Camfil Canada Clean Air Solutions

For more than 60 years, Camfil has been helping people breathe cleaner air. As a leading manufacturer of premium clean air solutions, we provide commercial and industrial systems for air filtration and air pollution control that improve worker and equipment productivity, minimize energy use, and benefit human health and the environment.Read more about Camfil Canada


Media Contact:

Phillip Ilijevski

Camfil Canada Inc.

T: 437-929-1161

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