Learn when and how to clean your air filter

Jenna Careri / July 27th, 2017



Are you unsure how often you should change your air filter? The time frame may not be one size fits all. Most of us only switch out our filter when we notice it is completely full of dust and debris, but this could make your cooling and heating run less efficiently. As a rule of thumb, Angie’s List recommends you follow the replacement recommendations found on the filter. However, there are some factors that may require you to change your air filter more often, namely allergies and pets.

For folks with allergies, contents in the air could irritate symptoms. The fuller your air filter is, the more allergens, like dust, hang around in the air instead of getting trapped in ducts. If you have allergies, it may suit you to change your air filter once a month.

Pets are another major culprit of filthy air filters. Dogs and cats shed often, which releases fur and dander (particles of skin) into the air. These components get sucked up into ducts which could make the unit work harder to cool or heat your home. If you own pets, you should also switch out your air filter once a month, but there are ways to extend its life. Vacuum dust and fur off your air filter regularly, and you may be able to replace it less often.

If you don’t have pets or allergies, Service Experts says you can change your air filter four times a year, without any maintenance necessary to extend use.

The Department of Energy states that when you replace your clogged air filter in the recommended time frame, you can save between 5% and 15% on your air conditioner’s energy use. If your average energy bill is $100, that translates to savings of up to $15 a month – or $120 a year, after the cost of air filters. Because consistent air filter changes help protect the health of your HVAC system, this could also mean savings in eventual HVAC repairs.

How to change your air filter

Tools needed: screw driver, air filter, wash cloth

  1. Locate where your air filter is installed.
  2. Unscrew intake grate with screwdriver.
  3. Remove old air filter.
  4. Clean area around air filter space with a damp wash cloth.
  5. Replace with new air filter in the open duct.
  6. Screw grate back into place.


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