How Often to Change Filters and What Type?

Most people do not completely understand the importance of changing filters and the impact it will have on energy consumption and the life of your equipment. That brings us to the first question “why it’s important to change your air filters regularly?” Everyone knows changing the oil in your car is important and if you do not it can be hard on your engine. This can be a great example to compare to. Did you know one of the most common reasons a system breaks down is because of a dirty/clogged filter. When dirt accumulates the air cannot pass through and in turn can cause your gas furnace to overheat and can force your AC to work harder to maintain its set temperature. Besides the effects dirty filters have on your unit and can also cause health issues. This is especially important for those that have asthma and allergies. A dirty filter is blowing dirt and dust into your home and if you have pets this can be even worse. Let’s go back to what I mentioned before a dirty filter will be hard on your unit because it makes it work harder. If your unit is having to run more this will also cause increases in your electric bill each month.
Now that we have covered why to change your filters lets discuss how often. This obviously varies based on factors in your home. How many people are living in your home, do you have pets, what type of filter etc.. Typically for a family home with pets I recommend changing your filter every 60 days. If you do have pets in your home you should change your filter once a month. If you’re living in a one person home with no pets then your filters will last longer. In this case you should only need to change your filter every 90 -120 days. It’s always a great idea to at least do a visual check on your filters monthly to verify their condition.
You will find many HVAC professionals have different opinions on what type of filter and even what brand they recommend. Every home is different based on conditions that we listed above, therefore what I recommend would be on a case by case basis. I have listed some different options below.
• Fiberglass Filters – This is the throwaway air filters and tend to be the most common type used. They are made of layered fiberglass fibers are laid over each other to form the filter. These are the cheapest option and are disposable. However they do not last as long and clog up faster which in turn decreases your unit’s efficiency. They are also not as effective at getting smaller particles. I would not recommend these for those with asthma and allergy issues.
• Disposable pleated paper or polyester filters – These filters are much better at trapping the dirt and dust particles. They do cost more than the spun fiberglass filters but do a much better filtering job.
• High efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) filters – As the name states these filters are very efficient. They actually filter 99.97 percent of all particles. However these filters are quite more expensive.
• Washable air filters – These filters do not tend to be as common as the others. They actually rely on the build-up of dust along the cloth. These do cost more than the other filters but they also last a lot longer. On the other hand they are not good to help with air contaminants like smoke and pet dander. They also increase your chances of getting mold if they are not fully dried each time.