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7 Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Air Filter


As a homeowner, you want to maintain a comfortable environment for you and your family without paying more on utility bills or suffering from bad indoor air quality. One simple way to achieve this goal and make sure your home’s more energy efficient is to maintain your HVAC air filter. Just like other other home care to-dos, your air filter needs attention to work best. Here are some tips to get the most out of your air filter and enjoy a more comfortable home.

Know what kind of filter you need

Filters earn a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) based on how efficient they are. Choose a filter that fits your needs based on these characteristics:

  • MERV 1-4: A filter in this range provides minimal filtration. It’s best if you want a cheap filter that keeps dust off the equipment but does little to improve indoor air quality.
  • MERV 5-8: This is the ideal range for most homes. It’s great at capturing smaller particles that aggravate allergies without restricting airflow.
  • MERV 9-12: If you have severe allergies or multiple pets, this higher efficiency could help you breathe easier. You might need an HVAC contactor to boost the blower motor and counteract the airflow restriction such a tight weave creates.
  • MERV 13-16: This level of efficiency is usually reserved for hospitals, superior commercial applications and smoking lounges. It’s rare you’ll need such high filtration capabilities in your home.
  • MERV 17-20: A filter in this range is called a High Efficiency Particulate Absorption (HEPA) filter. It’s most often used in vacuum cleaners, not HVAC systems.

Understand your household’s requirements

The rule of thumb for a standard MERV 1 to 8 air filter is to replace it every 30 to 90 days. Yes, this is a big range, so follow these guidelines for specifying how often you should change the air filter:

  • Vacation home or single occupant without pets or allergies: Change the filter every 3 to 6 months.
  • Homes without pets: every 90 days.
  • One dog or cat lives in the home: every 60 days.
  • Two or more dogs or cats live in the home: every 30 to 45 days.
  • Someone in your home has allergies or other respiratory problems: every 30 to 45 days.

Other factors such as nearby construction or higher air pollution levels may require more frequent filter changes as well. When in doubt, check the filter monthly and change it when it appears dirty.

Remind yourself to change the filter 

You’re thinking about your HVAC filter at this moment, but how will you remember how much time has passed since you last replaced it once a few weeks go by? You have a number of options for reminding yourself to change the air filter, including the following:

  • Write the date you changed it on the edge of the filter.
  • Write the approximate date to change the filter on the calendar.
  • Set automatic reminders on your phone.

Make buying replacements easy

It’s a chore to visit the home improvement store every month just to buy a new filter. Plus, if you don’t have replacement filters on hand, it’s easy to procrastinate doing the task. Make it easy on yourself with these tips:

  • Order filters from a service that mails them to your home every 30, 60, 90 or 120 days.
  • Stock up on a year’s supply of filters.
  • Buy filters by the box for a lower per-filter cost.

With these four tips for getting the most out of your air filter, you can maximize comfort and energy efficiency all year long.

Call us at (847) 503-9497 if you’re having any issues with your furnace or air filters. We service many kinds of brands like American Standard, Amana and Rheem and we’re located in the North Shore and Northwest Suburbs like Glenview, Skokie and Northbrook.

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