Clearing the air

All about air filters for your home
By Megan McKoy-Noe, CCC
Clearing the air

Clogged air filters could add up to $82 to your electric bill every year. Checking, changing, or cleaning your filter monthly can save money and extend the life of your home's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.

Almost half of your annual energy bill goes toward keeping your home comfortable. While air filters prevent pesky dust and annoying allergens from clogging your HVAC system, dirt, like aging arteries, builds up over time. If left unchecked, a dirty filter strains a home's heart and forces the HVAC system to work harder to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home. This results in higher energy bills and, potentially, premature system failure.

Filter facts

Air filters protect HVAC systems and perform double-duty by collecting some lose dirt from the air. These handy sieves live in duct system slots or in return grilles of central air conditioners, furnaces, and heat pumps.

Successful filters have a short lifespan depending upon its installed environment — the better a filter catches dirt, the faster is gets clogged and must be cleaned or replaced. Leaving a dirty air filter in place cuts a home's air quality and reduces HVAC system airflow.

While removing a clogged filter altogether relieves pressure on the system, the system won't perform well for long without one. Unfiltered dust and grime accumulate on critical parts like the evaporator coil, causing a loss in heat transfer efficiency, costing you money and unnecessary wear and tear.

Monthly Check-up

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) advises checking an air filter once a month and replacing it at least every three months. It's critical to inspect and replace filters before seasons of heavy use like summer and winter.

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About the Author

Megan McKoy-Noe, CCC, writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the service organization for the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.

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