Replacing AC Filters: Why, When and How?

It’s the easiest and cheapest way to improve your home’s energy efficiency, lower your energy bills, and improve your indoor air quality. It’s also the easiest task to forget on your home maintenance list. Don’t neglect changing your AC filters! Your budget and your body will be much healthier if you just put this item on your calendar.

Why?

Dirty filters are the enemy of your AC system. Clogged filters block the airflow and make your system work harder to pull air into the system and push it back into your home. This means your system has to use more energy to do the same work.

Imagine doing your job with a few extra 5- and 10-pound weights strapped to your arms and legs. You’d get worn out pretty quickly, right? That’s what happens to your AC system. Fresh filters allow the air to flow freely making the AC system’s job a lot easier to do. Your energy bills should reflect the difference.

In addition to the energy savings, you’ll also be improving your air quality. Filters trap the pollutants that are circulating in your home. Pet dander, dust mites, pollen, and mildew spores can build up inside your home especially if it is well-sealed. They have no way of getting out so your indoor air gets polluted even worse than the air outdoors. A fresh filter will be able to more effectively remove those irritants and this can result in easier breathing fewer allergic attacks and less frequent headaches for many homeowners.

When?

Check the manufacturer’s specifications to find out how often your system’s filters need to be changed. A good rule of thumb is to change the filters once a month or clean them if you have the reusable variety. If someone in your home has respiratory problems, like asthma or allergies, you may need to change filters more often. Homes with multiple pets may also need a more frequent schedule as well as those in areas with ongoing construction or heavy outdoor air pollution.

How?

A professional HVAC contractor can teach you how to safely and correctly change your AC system filters. (This is recommended if you are new to homeownership or DIY maintenance projects.) Learning from an expert is always best but you can also take a look at the owner’s manual. Most manufacturers have made them available for download online.

It’s usually a simple process of locating the filter, removing a few screws, pulling out the old filter, and slipping the new one into place. Even a novice DIYer is more than qualified for this task.

Remembering to change the AC filters is often the most difficult part of the job. Write it on your calendar, put a reminder on your phone or set up an email notification. Change your filters on schedule and your air will be cleaner, your system will be more efficient and your bills will be lower.