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Heat & Cool Efficiently – Change Your Air Filter

According to EnergyStar.gov, as much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling. Therefore, making smart decisions about your home’s heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can have a huge impact on your utility bills – and your comfort! One way to make sure your HVAC system is working properly is to make sure your air filter is changed regularly.

Your air filter should be changed every month especially in the seasons of heavy use (summer & winter). If the filter looks dirty after a month, change it. At a minimum, change the air filter after 3 months. Think of it this way…your HVAC “breathes” through your filter. If the filter is clogged and dirty, it takes more effort (energy) for your system to run. Proper filtration also prevents dust and dirt from building up in the system, which could lead to costly repairs or premature replacement.

Are you confused as to what air filter to buy? FamilyHandyman.com has some recommendations:

  • The choice of which filter to buy for your furnace depends on how much you want to spend, what you’re trying to filter, and how diligent you are about changing the filter.
  • The minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) scale goes from 1 to 16. Most residential filters range from 4 to 12. Furnace manufacturers prefer the traditional spun fiberglass ac filters (MERV 2) because they filter out enough of the large particles to protect the furnace while providing maximum airflow. Maintaining the furnace manufacturer’s specified airflow is critical to achieving energy efficiency and maximum life from the blower motor and heat exchanger. An inexpensive MERV 4 filter captures 80 percent of the particles 50 microns and larger, but only 25 percent of the particles in the 3 to 10 micron range.
  • For most homeowners, a more expensive MERV 7 or 8 pleated filter provides a good balance between cost and filtration efficiency. These filters trap 80 to 95 percent of the particles 5 microns and larger and are more than enough filtration for most households.
  • Furnace efficiency is one thing. But if you’re a clean freak or have family members with allergies or low-immunity issues, spend more on a high-efficiency (MERV 11 and higher) filter. Then just make sure you stay on top of filter changes to protect your furnace.
  • High-efficiency filters capture 99 percent of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns (bacteria and viruses, fumes and pollen). But you’ll have to run your furnace fan full time to get the maximum benefit from a high-efficiency filter, and that will cost more. Figure the extra cost into your decision.
  • Finally, never switch from a fiberglass filter to a high-efficiency filter without first talking to your HVAC technician. The technician can boost fan speed to compensate for the reduced airflow. Even then, you still have to be diligent about replacing the filter regularly. A clogged filter can burn out the blower motor, damage the heat exchanger and cost you hundreds of dollars in wasted energy.

We recommend pleated filters instead of the cheap fiberglass filter. These filters have much greater surface area to catch the particles and contaminants that try to flow into your system. Very good filters can be purchased at your local hardware or DIY store. Remember – the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) is a standard that rates the overall effectiveness of air filters. Higher value MERV rating equates to finer filtration, meaning fewer dust particles and other airborne contaminants can pass through the filter.

If your family have allergy or breathing issues that need more than standard air filters, there are so many options! Ultraviolet lights, whole home air filters, and more. Give us a call or message us today and we can recommend filtration options tailored to your needs. We are here for you!

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