woman and technician looking at air filter

7 Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Air Filter

It’s every homeowner’s goal to maintain a comfortable living space without racking up ridiculous utility bills. One effective way to improve home comfort and energy efficiency is to give your HVAC air filter the attention it deserves. Use these four tips for getting the most out of your air filter and see what a difference it can make.

Learn what type of filter you need

Filters earn a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) based on how efficient they are. Choose a filter that fits your needs based on these characteristics:

  • MERV 1-4: A filter in this range provides minimal filtration. It’s best if you want a cheap filter that keeps dust off the equipment but does little to improve indoor air quality.
  • MERV 5-8: This is the ideal range for most homes. It’s great at capturing smaller particles that aggravate allergies without restricting airflow.
  • MERV 9-12: If you have severe allergies or multiple pets, this higher efficiency could help you breathe easier. You might need an HVAC contactor to boost the blower motor and counteract the airflow restriction such a tight weave creates.
  • MERV 13-16: This level of efficiency is usually reserved for hospitals, superior commercial applications and smoking lounges. It’s rare you’ll need such high filtration capabilities in your home.
  • MERV 17-20: A filter in this range is called a High Efficiency Particulate Absorption (HEPA) filter. It’s most often used in vacuum cleaners, not HVAC systems.

Know your household’s requirementsCommon Airborne Contaminants

The rule of thumb for a standard MERV 1 to 8 air filter is to replace it every 30 to 90 days. This is quite a range, however. Follow these guidelines for specifically pinpointing how often you should change the air filter:

  • Vacation home or single occupant without pets or allergies: Change the filter every 3 to 6 months.
  • “Average” suburban home without pets: Change the filter every 90 days.
  • One dog or cat lives in the home: Change the filter every 60 days.
  • Two or more dogs or cats live in the home: Change the filter every 30 to 45 days.
  • Someone in your home has allergies or other respiratory problems: Change the filter every 30 to 45 days.

Other factors such as nearby construction or higher air pollution levels may require more frequent filter changes as well. When in doubt, check the filter monthly and change it when it appears dirty.

Remind yourself to change the filter

You’re thinking about your HVAC filter at this moment, but how will you remember how much time has passed since you last replaced it once a few weeks go by? You have a number of options for reminding yourself to change the air filter, including the following:

  • Write the date you changed it on the edge of the filter.
  • Write the approximate date to change the filter on the calendar.
  • Set automatic reminders on your phone.
  • Sign up for email alerts from your HVAC contractor.

Make buying replacements easy

It’s a pain to visit the home improvement store every month just to buy a new filter. Plus, if you don’t have replacement filters on hand, it’s easy to procrastinate doing the task. Make it easy on yourself with these tips:

  • Order filters from a service that mails them to your home every 30, 60, 90 or 120 days.
  • Stock up on a year’s supply of filters.
  • Buy filters by the box for a lower per-filter cost.

With these four tips for getting the most out of your air filter, you can maximize comfort and energy efficiency all year long. To learn more, please contact Aire Serv® today.