One of the most important things you should do is change your air conditioner filter. The Department of Energy recommends changing your filter every 1 to 2 months during the cool season. Warm seasons require more frequent replacement, particularly if you us the AC frequently.
Every home is different and there are many factors that determine how long you should wait between filter changes. If you wait too long, the efficiency of the equipment will deteriorate and operating costs go up. If you change your filter too often, it’s like throwing money away. Considering the cost of some filters that could add up to a lot of money over time. Filter replacement frequency also depends on the type of filter you purchased. Some are designed to be cleaned and reused. Replaceable filters have recommended guidelines for how often you should change them.
Environmental factors such as pet hair, heavy foot traffic in your home, tobacco smoke and living in dusty areas, such as in the country, can also decrease the life of your filter, requiring a more frequent change. Maintaining a cleaning filter not only helps to keep your system’s interior components clean and in good operating order, but also contributes to improved air quality by reducing the amount of allergens and harmful particles in the air. There are many different types of filters and each has its own benefits and will capture airborne particles based upon the size of the particulate.
The method to which a filter is rated is referred to its MERV rating which is a measurement scale designed in 1987 by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to rate the effectiveness of air filters. How often you change your filter will influence not only the quality of the air that you breathe, but it will also impact the health of your HVAC system.
Types of Air Conditioning Filters
Pleated filters are the most common and vary in their efficiency rates. They can be between 10% to 60% efficient and some manufacturers claim even higher efficiencies. These should be changed every 3 to 6 months. If you live in an area with lots of dust then you should probably change your filter every 3 months.
Electrostatic filters probably offer the best combination of value and efficiency. You will most likely pay two to six times what a good quality disposable filter would cost but if you wash them with water when they become dirty, you can reuse them.
Electronic filters will never become dirty enough to effect airflow, but do get dirty enough to become inefficient and their ability to remove dust from the air deteriorates as they become dirty. To clean these filters you have to remove the electronic cells and soak them in special HVAC cleaner and then rinse them and let them dry.
HEPA filters were specifically designed to protect the Human Respiratory System. These are the most efficient filters available, however, they become plugged very quickly and often cause too much restriction to airflow to be used at all. These need to be checked monthly in order to maintain their efficiency. An air conditioner contractor will be able to tell you if it is worth trying one of these in your system.
Economy panel filters (for example, the EZ Flow filters made by Flanders®) can be bought at your local hardware store in packs of four. These are very inexpensive, and as such, are extremely inefficient. In fact, most experts will tell you to steer clear of these filters altogether. Since they are not good at collecting dust, the dust travels to your evaporator coil, where it shouldn’t go. Ultimately you will end up spending more having your evaporator coil cleaned than you would have if you bought the proper filters, not to mention, the wear and tear on your HVAC equipment.
All HVAC systems are equipped with an air filtration system designed to trap pollutants, dirt and dust. Service technicians may replace your furnace filter during an annual inspection, but these filters are constantly working to keep the airborne pollutants out of the air you breathe and away from the operating parts of your air conditioner. With all of these debris piling up on each and every day, frequently changing or cleaning your filter is essential to maintaining the unit’s optimal operating efficiency. This is also essential to keeping your monthly bill low.