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Air Filter FAQs to Maximize HVAC Efficiency

Did you know that the air filter is an integral component of your home’s heating and cooling system? It’s the one part of the HVAC system that requires your attention on a regular basis. Here’s what every homeowner needs to know for healthy indoor air and an efficient HVAC system.

What is an air filter?
Generally pleated and made from filter media like polyester or fiberglass, air filters snag dust, allergens and other particles from the air before it moves through the conditioning process. A dirty air filter lowers an HVAC unit’s efficiency by making it work harder to pull air in.

How often should I change the air filter?
An air filter will get dirty at different rates throughout the year, so it’s best to get in the habit of changing it regularly. Most HVAC professionals recommend changing the air filter monthly. To make it easy, tie the task to your mortgage payment or electric bill. When you make the payment each month, follow it up with a filter change.

What kind of air filter do I buy?
Check the dimensions of the air filter currently in the system and look for that size at the home improvement store. You’ll see options at different price points; more expensive filters usually have higher MERV ratings, meaning they have a denser structure and can catch smaller particles. Many systems can’t handle the higher ratings, so select the type of filter recommended in your system’s owner’s manual.

How do I change it?
Turn the HVAC system off at the thermostat or breaker. Locate the air filter, which is usually inside the air return panel or alongside the system’s air handler. (Keep in mind that some homes may have multiple filters in different locations.) Remove the old filter and install the new one with the arrows pointing in the same direction as the airflow. Don’t forget to turn your HVAC system back on.