change air filter greater comfort HVAC

How Often Do You Really Need to Change Your Air Filter?

One of the top ways to avoid higher energy bills and future HVAC maintenance: changing your air filters on time, and doing so consistently.

Knowing that one of the most important thing you can do on your own is to simply change your air filter on a regular basis, we thought we’d examine this a bit more.

The Job of Air Filters

The job of air filters? It’s to catch things in the air, whether that be allergens, harmful particles, or debris, and therefore it keeps your system’s HVAC protected and performing as it should.

One could argue that the air filter’s job isn’t necessarily to improve air quality, but think about that another way: Air filters are a key part of proper HVAC filtration and efficiency, and that filtration and efficiency is really the foundation of indoor air quality.

Put simply, your air filters are one of the most powerful parts you can control of your HVAC working as it should. 

Proper filtration keeps indoor air clean and free from dust and particulates that make your system work harder and that have other harmful risks you’re your health. So while you may say the job of an air filter is to protect your HVAC from harmful particles, arguably, a byproduct of that is that they improve your overall indoor air quality!

The issue is that filters are only going to do their job optimally if they are changed out on time.

You May Not Be Changing Your Air Filters As Frequently As You Should Be

Is there construction near your house, or major yard work and/or landscaping you’ve taken on?

Both of those examples can greatly increase the amount of dust (and other materials in the air) that are going through your system. In turn, that means you may need to increase how often you’re changing your filters.

Other scenarios where you may want to check your air filter more often than “normal”:

  • You have a pet that sheds (and, well, they almost all do, except fish). If you have more than one dog or dog/cat, then there can be even more particles in the air. In general, you can estimate that you will need to change the air filter at least every two months if you have a pet, but again, ask us for specifics for your home and family.
  • Someone in your household has asthma or allergies—this could be a new problem or this could be an ongoing problem for this person. If it’s a new problem, it can especially signal you are having air quality issues in the home. If it’s an existing problem, you know that person is extra sensitive to particles in the air, so you want to take extra measures to be sure this person is healthy and comfortable in the home.
  • Your house is a new home/new construction. By nature, your building materials can be emitting particles in the air, but even things like new carpet, flooring and caulks and sealants can be adding small amounts of particles to the air. When all of these add up, it may mean you need to change out your air filter more often.
  • You have a newborn, and want to give the baby extra protection against allergies or asthma. Of course you want them to have the highest indoor air quality possible, so this is a case where you might want to change your air filter more frequently.

The Lifespan of Your Air Filter

As we’ve alluded to, multiple factors are going to expect how long that air filter last. At minimum, that includes:

  • How often and how hard your system is already working. Take for example a home that is unoccupied versus a home that is occupied right now. All other variables held the same, in this scenario, that full-house that’s occupied is going to need to change out their filters more often than the vacation home. Another example would be if a home was a mild climate and barely used their AC versus a home that had to keep the AC pumping 24/7; as you might guess, the system that’s been working around the clock is going to need its filters changed much sooner.
  • The size of the home. Although it’s going to depend on your overall system, in general, larger spaces are going to require that more air is pumped. That would mean that sometimes in smaller spaces, you are going to have fewer filter changes. There can be quite a few exceptions to this, and so many other variables impact the air filter, so don’t use this rule alone.
  • Last but not least is your air quality. So yes, changing out your air filters will impact your indoor air quality, and the same is true, too: your baseline air quality is also going to impact how often you need to change out the filter! As we’ve been describing, so many factors go in to how many particles are going to be in the air, and that’s what is going to determine how frequently you need to change out the filter.

The Quality & Efficiency of Your Air Filters

When changing the filter, make sure that the replacement filter is the correct size, and you want it to be compatible with your system/house, and you want to check the efficiency.

You may have heard if the MERV rating system, an industry-standard system that ranks the quality and efficiency of different types of filters. You can think of it as a way to make sure standards are met and kept high for air filtration.

The range of ratings is 1-20, where the higher the rating, the better the filter. Systems rated 1-12 are the most common for homes today. The system you choose is a trade-off between MERV rating and cost, in most cases. As always, ask us when you have questions so that you can find the perfect fit for your family.

The one thing you don’t want to forget, no matter your brand or kind of air filter is that the cleaner the filters, the more particles they catch. That means the cleaner the air filter, the more efficiently the HVAC system runs in your home. That, in turn, saves you energy costs as well as improves your air quality.

But Can You Have Too Much of A Good Thing?

Upon reading about the MERV rating system, you may say, “Okay, time to get the highest rated filters!” Not all filters are right for every HVAC, however. Some high-rated filters aren’t going to be a fit for your system because it won’t keep your system efficiently operating (which after all, is the entire point). Think of it this way: the more resistance, you can reduce the airflow to your unit, so you can actually create a negative impact on your heating/cooling efficiency at a certain point.

Envision that your system doesn’t have the fan capacity to accommodate a very high efficiency filter. In that case, you aren’t helping your system to be efficiency if it has to continually try to work harder than it can.

Ask us if you have any questions about the best type of filter and the optimal time for you to be changing out your filters. We’ll be sure you aren’t unintentionally restricting any airflow in your home, or making your system continually have to work in a way that’s not optimal.

How Often Do You REALLY Need to Change Your Air Filter?

All in all, we want to help you establish the appropriate filter change-out frequency, and we want to make sure you have a type of filter that’s best for your system. General guidelines include:

  • For small apartments/condos or single occupant without a pet: at least twice a year, although certain pets will change that frequency.
  • Office setting: this can really vary, but an average, every two months. If you are near construction, it may even be more often.
  • Typical home with 1 pet: at least every 90 days, or more often if we told you so.
  • Anytime you have a pet, young child, or someone with allergies, we recommend changing the air filter out every 20-60 days.

Greater Comfort Is Here To Help Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

With options like top-of-the-line air filters, humidity control systems, UV germicidal lights, we have the tools (and the experience and knowledge) to make your building’s air fresh and clean.  We know, now more than ever, it is important to keep your occupant’s healthy and safe. We’re passionate about keeping you comfortable—year-round. Contact Greater Comfort today or call 859-491-4915 to schedule service today. 

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