The importance of air filters

Whether you realize it or not, your heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system is always hard at work in one way or another. Whether it’s cooling your home on those hot summer days or keeping it toasty during the chilly winter nights, HVAC systems play an important role in your everyday life.

With such a vital workhorse at your disposal, it’s important to make sure it’s maintained and working properly throughout the year, and a key part of that maintenance revolves around filters. One of the most overlooked aspects of an HVAC system is the filter and how often it needs changing. But why do these filters need to be clean in the first place?

Numerous benefits accompany a clean air filter, such as:

  • Improved air quality in your home
  • Better energy efficiency
  • Extended life of your HVAC system
  • Less frequent repairs for your system
  • Better temperature control

To ensure your system is always putting its best foot forward, take time to check these filters at least monthly or as the manufacturer states. Other factors can affect how often your filter needs changing, such as:

  • Shedding pets
  • Carpet versus hardwood floors
  • The amount of pollen, dust, etc.
  • Fireplaces or other wood-burning heat sources
  • Cigarette smoke

For homes with one or more shedding pets, it’s recommended to check your filter to determine if it needs more frequent changing. For those with allergies, checking filters monthly and more often during allergy season could prove beneficial for keeping the air as clean as possible and improving the air quality in the home.

Once you’ve checked your filter and determine whether it needs replacing, the next step is to choose the one that works best for your home.

High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are great for air purification, and because of their design, they can capture larger pollutants, pollen and pet dander. However, mold spores may settle on the filter and could require changing sooner than expected.

Ultraviolet (UV) filters use short-wave ultraviolet light to kill bacteria, viruses and potentially hazardous microorganisms like mold spores. While these filters are beneficial for ridding the air of illness-inducing particles, they are not as effective at filtering out dust and allergens.

Electrostatic filters use small cotton and paper fibers to create static that acts as a magnet for dust and other particles. Since the magnetism is strong, particles are contained in the filter and don’t go back into your home, which is great for keeping allergens at bay. These filters come in a disposable or reusable option, and they are one of the most cost-effective options.

Washable filters are another option for those desiring a reusable filter, but they do require more frequent care. While they may be more of a financial investment up front, they can last many years and could save money in the long run. Be sure to follow maintenance and washing instructions very closely when using washable filters, as any bit of moisture left on the filter could lead to mildew or mold development.

Lastly, pleated filters are made of cotton folds or polyester fabrics and do well with catching the most debris because of their larger surface area. Although they are effective with filtering dust and other airborne pollutants, they are less resistant to airflow and provide low air filtration.

When choosing a filter type, remember that if the filter is too large or too thick, airflow could be restricted, meaning your HVAC system will need to work harder to pull air through the unit, which could decrease efficiency. If you have questions about filters or want to know more energy efficiency tips, visit or call 1-800-545-5735 ext. 2178 to speak with our Energy and Technology Consultants (ETCs).