How Often Do You Need to Change an Air Filter In Your Home?

Did you know that you can cut your air conditioner’s energy usage by 5% to 15% by replacing its dirty air filter?

After all, clogs in an air filter can obstruct the airflow throughout the equipment. As a result, the system has to work harder to improve the climate in your home. Unfortunately, that forces the air conditioner (or heater) to consume more energy.

That’s why it’s imperative to change an air filter regularly, be it for your AC, furnace, or boiler.

The big question now is, how often should you replace it? We’ll answer that in this guide, so be sure to keep reading.

Minimum Air Filter Replacement Frequency

The experts at Energy Star recommend changing air filters once every three months. However, they also advise checking the filters once a month during summer and winter. That’s because it’s during summer when you use your AC more and winter when you rely heavily on your heater.

Situations Wherein You Need to Change an Air Filter More Often

The three-month filter replacement timeline is a good rule of thumb to follow. However, certain factors influence how often to replace an old air filter. From the type of filter you use to having carpets at home, all that can determine the need for a new filter.

The Kind of Air Filter You Have

Fiberglass air filters, made of spun glass, usually have a MERV rating of 1 to 4. MERV, in turn, stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values. It reports a filter’s ability to capture air contaminants and particles with sizes of 0.3 to 10 microns.

Fiberglass air filters are some of the most affordable filters, but they often last for only a month. So, if this is what your AC or furnace uses, it’s best to replace it once every month during peak season.

The Size and Thickness of the Air Filter

Smaller, thinner air filters typically need replacement after a month of use.

By contrast, the larger, thicker, and higher the MERV rating of an air filter is, the longer it usually lasts. After all, they have more surface area to trap air contaminants and particles.

To put that in perspective, a 10x10x1 filter with a MERV rating of 4 may need a replacement after a month. By contrast, a 20x25x1 filter replacement with a MERV rating of at least 8 is often good for at least three months.

However, before you buy a new air filter, make sure you first check the dimensions of the old one. You can usually find that information on one side of the filter. It’s imperative to know this; otherwise, you may end up buying one that’s too small or big for your AC or heater.

Another thing to note is the MERV compatibility of your cooling or heating equipment. Most home comfort systems can accommodate MERV ratings of 16 or lower. Installing a filter with a rating higher than the unit can handle can impair its performance.

Where You Live

How often and when to change air filters also depends on your location.

Let’s say you live in Bakersfield, CA, the city with the worst year-round particle pollution. In that case, it’s in your best interest to replace your air filters once a month. It’s also wise to check the filters once a week to see how they’re doing.

Another example is if your home is right next to a busy street or near a factory. In that case, you likely have polluted air in your area, so consider replacing your air filters more often.

Someone in Your Household Has Allergies

About 50 million people in the US experience allergy attacks every year. Many of these individuals suffer from indoor and outdoor allergies, such as hay fever. Either way, these folks are often allergic to stuff like pollen, molds, dust mites, and pet dander.

While some allergy symptoms are mild to moderate, others can be life-threatening. For instance, there’s anaphylaxis that causes the airways to narrow. When that happens, it can make breathing extremely difficult.

So, if you or anyone else at home has allergies, it’s best to replace air filters once a month. That can help reduce the risks of reactions from breathing in air filled with allergens.

You Have Animal Companions

Two in three US households, or 85 million families, live with pets. Most of them have animal companions in the form of cats and dogs.

If your family has a furry pet, too, consider replacing air filters at least once every two months. However, if you have multiple cats and dogs, change clogged filters with fresh ones at least once a month.

You Live in a Carpeted Home

Carpets and their adhesives can produce air contaminants. For example, new carpets can introduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to indoor air. Then, over time, they can continue to leach gases and pollutants.

However, unkempt carpets can be just as bad as they harbor dust, dirt, pet dander, and mold. From there, walking over the carpets can stir up the particles and allow them to mix with the air.

With that said, be sure to replace your air filters after a month or two if you have carpets at home. Vacuum the carpets regularly, too, to prevent pollutants from accumulating in them.

Breathe Easier With Timely Air Filter Replacement

While you might notice it, you most likely spend about 90% of your time indoors. That’s why it’s crucial to ensure you’re breathing clean, fresh air at home all the time.

For the same reason, you should change an air filter as soon as it gets clogged with dust and debris. That can mean every month, but certainly no more than once every three months.

Are you looking for even more home and health guides like this? Then feel free to stick around to check our other recent news and blog posts!