Let Your Home Breathe – Air Filters Explained
How well is your home breathing? Much like our bodies, our homes rely on a supply of air and a way for the spent air to return. An efficient, unrestricted pathway for this air to flow means greater comfort, less energy used, and a potential reduction of your energy bill.
One of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to improve airflow in your home is to replace air filters regularly. Air filters are easy to manage! Just toss the dirty, clogged filters and replace them with new ones that can save up to 15% on your bill.
Often overlooked, savings brought by a simple change of air filters can be substantial. How is that possible? Let’s return to our example of the human body. Imagine going for a run outside. If you were to run with a thick towel over your nose and mouth, that represents the effect a dirty or clogged air filter has on your HVAC system. Dirty or clogged air filters restrict the flow of air into and out of the home, therefore, making your HVAC run longer to try and compensate for the lack of air it is receiving back. Take it a step further, and imagine having your nose or mouth completely blocked, so that you could only breathe through one or the other. That would be similar to having an entire return vent blocked by furniture or artwork.
Now that we understand how important these filters are, how do we know what to look for, and how often to change them? First of all, it is important to know where your filters are located. Do you have your return filters in a vent? Or is your filter in the air handler? It could be both. For energy efficiency purposes, it is best to only have filters in one place or the other. If filters exist both in the vent and the air handler, it increases the amount of work for your system to circulate the appropriate amount of air. Our recommendation is to eliminate the vent filters as long as the air handler filter is accessible, and you are willing to change it often. This will grant the added financial benefit of only having to replace one filter (in the air handler) as opposed to many (each return vent). Also, unless medical reasons exist where extra filtration is needed, there is no need to purchase expensive filters that come standard in the air handlers.
A normal 1-inch filter, even if the filter is in the air handler, is recommended. Most air handlers have brackets that fit a 1-inch filter. This is only recommended if you’re willing to change the filter often as it will get dirty quicker than the thicker filters.
Once you are at the stage where filters only exist in one area or the other, just make sure to check them often and change them when they appear dirty. A layer of dust is a pretty good indicator that your system airflow is being restricted. You will eventually learn how long it takes for this to happen in your home, but most manufacturers recommend changing filters every 30-60 days to maintain optimal airflow.
For more energy efficiency tips and tricks, visit our website at www.choptankelectric.coop or call our Member Service Center at 1-877-892-0001 and ask for our Energy Efficiency Coordinator, Justus Gellert.