Keeping up with the basic maintenance of your air conditioning unit and furnace can be a headache. For many homeowners, these appliances are really out of sight and far from the front of their mind when it comes to maintenance. Preventative maintenance, including simple tasks like changing your air filters, can really extend the lifespan of your HVAC units and keep your monthly costs lower.
Homeowners are more than capable of performing a few basic jobs to keep their HVAC system functioning at an ideal level. One of the simplest routine chores that needs to be done is replacing the air filters in your home. The question is, do you know how often that air filter really needs to be changed?
The frequency of changing the air filter can vary significantly, depending on the conditions inside of your home. Take a look at some of these guidelines to determine how often your home should have a new air filter.
What kind of air filter did you buy?
Every manufacturer and type of air filter will have a different recommendation for how often it should be changed. Some may state that they need replaced every thirty days while others can last for up to three months. The most basic air filters should really be replaced every thirty to ninety days, but you may need to change them more or less often to be comfortable.
The best way to determine how often your air filter needs changed is to take a good look at it. Experts recommend opening up your air returns and taking a peek at least once a month. If the air filter looks dirty, chances are that it’s time to install a new one. Your system will be able to run more efficiently with a clean air filter than one that’s already lived out the best of its days.
Do you have any pets?
Animals put off a lot of hair and a lot of pet dander, both of which can quickly clog up the air filter. People with pets, particularly if you have more than one, tend to need more air filters than families who live without animals. The excessive amount of pet dander and shedding quickly causes issues for your air conditioner that can no longer run quite as smoothly.
Pets don’t just include dogs and cats though. Even birds, hamsters, and other small rodents can make a difference in how dirty your air filters become. A good rule of thumb for families who only have one pet is to change the air filter every two to three months. Multiple pets may require changing the filter on a monthly basis.
How bad are your allergies?
People who are prone to more severe allergies will likely be able to identify the difference that a clean air filter makes rather quickly. All of the dust and dander caught in the air filter continuously cycles into the home. As a result, you may feel chronically itchy eyes, have a runny nose and cough, or any other presentation of some allergy symptoms. If you fall into this category, consider changing your air filter every month or every few weeks just to make yourself more comfortable.
How much time do you spend at home?
If you only live in the home on weekends or it’s a cabin used just a few times each year, your air filters probably don’t need much attention. When the home isn’t in use, the air filter isn’t going to collect as much debris from daily living. This is the only way that HVAC companies could really recommend extending the lifespan of your air filter past the ninety-day mark.
Vacation homes can often get away with only changing their air filter every six months to a year. Single individuals can also get away with extending the life of their air filter to the six-month mark, as long as they have no pets and no allergies.
A typical family who lives in their home daily is still going to need to change their filter by the ninety-day mark at minimum. The chaos and grime of daily living may still inspire you to change the filter more often though.
How much money do you want to save?
You may think that it’s ridiculous to spend a few more dollars every month on replacing your air filters. Sure, it’s an extra expense but you should really think about how much it will save you in the long run.
The United States Department of Energy estimates that maintaining a clean air filter could save homeowners up to 15 percent on their air conditioning bill each month. That’s just the savings that you’ll see initially though. Because a clean air filter allows your unit to pump air into your home more easily, the air conditioner won’t be working nearly as hard. This means less wear and tear over time that can lead to expensive repairs.
Many professional companies offer maintenance plans to help hold homeowners accountable for the care of their units. These maintenance plans may come with a cost, but they ultimately tend to save homeowners money in the long run. Choosing to enroll in a long-term maintenance plan can give you some of these major benefits:
- Savings on your monthly heating and cooling bill
- Validating the manufacturer’s warranty on your units
- Ensuring optimal performance regularly to avoid massive breakdowns later
- Extending the lifespan of your HVAC system
While you can take control over some of the smaller items within your home, consider whether an air conditioning service company may be able to assist a few times each year. Whatever you do, make sure that your units are properly taken care of so that they can last you for years to come.