What costs about the same as a fast food meal and can mean cleaner air, lower utility bills, and a longer life for your furnace and air conditioner? …A new air filter.  Your air filter should be changed at least every three months, but every month is ideal.

The air filter in your home is the very definition of “multitasking”.  Changing your air filter benefits you in several ways:

  • Increased energy efficiency. When your air filter is dirty, your air conditioning and heating system has to work harder to move the air through all of the accumulated dust, mold, and pollen that the filter has trapped.  A harder working system wastes energy and keeps your utility bills higher.  By contrast, a clean air filter keeps your system running cleanly and efficiently, which in turn keeps your utility bills down.
  • Longer life for your system. In addition to helping your heating and cooling system run efficiently, an air filter also traps the dirt and dust that would otherwise accumulate inside your system.  When dirt and other particulate matter build up, it can cause system failure much earlier than in a unit that has been maintained and kept clean. According to Energy Star, “Dirt and neglect are the #1 causes of heating and cooling system failure.”  When you think about how much repairs on heating and cooling systems can cost, a monthly change of an air filter seems like a bargain.
  • Better indoor air quality.  A clean air filter doesn’t stay clean for long; when it’s doing its job, it gets dirty fast.  That’s because its job is to grab as much dust, mold, pollen, and any other contaminant as it possibly can.  But there’s only so much it can hold.  When a dirty filter is left in the system, it just allows all those contaminants to recirculate back into your home’s air instead of trapping them.  Regular changes mean cleaner air.
  • Good for the environment.  This goes along with energy efficiency.  It’s as simple as this: A system that is working harder uses more energy.  More energy means more pollution.  If you can cut your heating and cooling costs by 10% by changing your air filter, you’re also cutting the amount of greenhouse gasses you’re producing by 10%.

Your first step is to get your old air filter out, check the size to be sure you’ve got it right, and head to the store.  If you guess the size and get it wrong, it can cause your system to work harder and reduce system efficiency.  Be sure to get the best quality filter you can afford; the better the filter, the cleaner your air and heating and cooling system will be.

It’s not a bad idea to buy multiple new filters at once and then write a date on each one when it should replace the old filter.  Another good way to remember is to set a reminder on your calendar, whether it’s paper or electronic, on the same day every month.