If you’re a homeowner, chances are someone has already told you that you should change your air filter. This simple task tops many spring and A/C prep checklists. That’s because changing your filter is a super easy step toward keeping your home fresh and comfy – not to mention lowering your energy bills. But, surely, you have questions. Luckily, we have answers!

Why Do I Need to Change my Air Filter?

The obvious reason is that replacing your air filter helps improve your home’s indoor air quality by catching dust, debris, pollen, pet dander and germs. What you may not realize is that your air filter also plays a part in your cooling system’s efficiency, helping to regulate airflow, ward off repairs and extend your equipment life. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, changing your air filter can lower your A/C’s energy consumption by as much as 10 percent!

How Often Should I Change it?

That depends on a lot of factors, such as your air filter’s material and thickness, whether or not you have pets, or if you suffer from seasonal allergies. A general guideline is that you should probably replace your filter every one to three months. Of course, you can always just take a look at it. It’s like when you take your car for an oil change. Your technician typically shows you your filter if it’s dirty and in need of replacement. If you’re A/C filter looks gray or dirty, it’s past its prime.

What Is a MERV Rating?

Established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), MERV stands for Maximum Efficiency Reporting Value. Your air filter’s MERV rating indicates where it falls on a porousness scale (from 1 to 16). The higher the MERV score, the more effective the filter.

Disposable or Washable? Flat or Pleated?

There are many types of air filters to choose from. Disposable filters tend to have a notably higher MERV rating (sometimes as high as 16), cost less and require less maintenance. Washable filters have MERV scores in the 1-4 range and require monthly cleaning, but they do last for years.

In terms of form, you can choose between flat, often made of fiberglass mesh, and pleated, typically a tightly spun fiberglass or polyester. Pleated filters provide a larger surface area for catching contaminants, are less likely to promote mold growth and boast higher MERV scores. Although these choices may seem like no-brainers, it’s important to use an air filter that aligns with your A/C manufacturer’s recommendations. You can always ask your tech for help when you schedule your annual tune-up.

How Do I Change My Air Filter?

Changing your A/C filter is quick and easy… if know what you’re looking for. In most cases, it will be close to the blower unit. Other possible locations include the central return register, an attic or basement air handler, or next to an electrostatic air cleaner. Once you’ve spotted your filter, follow these simple steps:

  1. Loosen the fasteners and remove the grill.
  2. Pull out dirty filter and set aside.
  3. Place new filter in the duct opening with the arrows pointing toward the blower.
  4. Put the cover back on.

It’s also a good idea to jot down the date when you change your filter, so you can keep a healthy maintenance schedule.

Do you have questions about air filters that we didn’t address in this post? Ask away! Blind & Sons is happy to help.