This post is part 2 of 6 in our Home Efficiency Series sponsored by Wyckoff Heating and Cooling.
In part 1, we shared “Home Efficiency 101” from Erica, a busy mom of four. In this post we’ll be looking at how to and why it’s essential to change your furnace filter.
Mommy Confession Time
I know that I should change my air filter, but this is the last thing on my mind when running my household. On top of that, I have no idea what type of filter to buy. And I don’t take the time to change it.
I’ve stood at Home Depot numerous times with kids in tow, wondering which brand and type is best. I stare at the huge selection and have no idea what is best. So I either buy the one on sale or the most expensive one that says something like “filters out allergens… pollen, etc.” just to be on my way.
Instead of putting it in right away when I get home, I get busy so the filter sits around in the package. Finally, when I get around to it, I’m fairly certain I put it in backwards. On top of that, I forget to mark down when to change it. Then sometime months later when I think about it again I have to repeat the above Home Depot scenario all over again. Hence my negligence and naivete.
Is changing it often really that important? How do I know what filter is the best for my family?
I recently had the opportunity to visit with Job Cooper from Wyckoff. Job came out to talk with me and shared the “basics” with me.
If you’re a first-time homeowner or recently purchased a new home, you will need to take a look at your HVAC system’s air filter and replace it as necessary. The simple task of changing your air filter will go a long way in maintaining your indoor air quality, maximizing efficiency, and increasing the longevity of your system’s lifetime. I will walk you through a few simple steps to replace your air filter, as well as the reasons routine filter updates are important.
How to Replace Your Air Filter:
- Determine filter type. Begin by turning off your furnace and removing the existing filter located inside the furnace or return air vent. Check to see if the filter is reusable (plastic frame) or disposable (cardboard frame). If the filter is reusable, your next steps are to clean it with a vacuum and water and let dry before reinserting. If, however, your air filter is disposable, write down the filter size printed on the cardboard frame.
- Find the right replacement. Purchasing the right size filter is essential to ensure effective removal of dust, pollen, and other allergens. A typical filter is one or two inches thick. However, larger filters – up to five inches – are available and can provide superior air quality. Please note, your furnace must be equipped to handle a larger filter or may need to be modified by one of our certified technicians. The higher the merve number (i.e. 11), the lower the resistance.
Keep in mind, a high price does not always equate to quality. There are several high efficiency filters available at minimal cost – and Wyckoff has you covered. Remember, no service, parts, or repair request is too small.
Learn more about the differences in filter types and efficiency from Wyckoff co-owner Job Cooper:
- Install the air filter. Look for the arrow on the filter marking airflow direction. (The arrow goes toward the front of the furnace). Slide the filter into place, and replace any cover that goes over it. Keep an accurate record of the date you updated the filter so you can practice routine replacement, every one to three months.
Now that you understand how to replace your air filter, let’s look at some of the reasons routine maintenance is so important.
Why It’s Important to Replace Your Air Filter:
- Prevent overheating. Dirt accumulates in filters over time, especially during summer and winter months when heating and cooling systems are in peak use here in Iowa. Buildup restricts airflow, causing the system to work overtime. This can result in overheating and detrimental damage to your furnace.
- Increase efficiency. Backed-up filters increase energy usage by reducing airflow and making the motor work harder. According to the Department of Energy, heating and cooling account for almost half of the average home’s utility bills. With routine filter replacement, a typical HVAC system will burn 5 to 15 percent less fuel than systems using the same filter year-round.
- Improve indoor air quality. Changing your air filter regularly can significantly improve your indoor air quality by preventing dust, dirt, mold, and allergens from entering your home. Family members with asthma and allergies can be negatively impacted by poor indoor air quality. Protect them by changing your filter and allowing it to do its job.
- Cut down on repair costs and likelihood of replacement. An HVAC system has an estimated life expectancy based on product quality, installation, and how well it is maintained – that’s why routine maintenance is so important. Clogged filters also allow dirt and dust to settle inside the vents which makes the motor work harder and the system more susceptible to costly repairs.
Action Points for the Busy Mom:
Job had to teach me the basics because I know very little. There was so much information I learned, but there were several things I will share as simple action points to help my fellow mamas:
- Identify the best type of air filter for your house and family. Air filters aren’t one size, one type for all. Do your research. How old is your house? If it’s an older home, there is likely only space for a 1-inch filter and it is sufficient to use a cheaper 1-inch air filter. (see reasoning below). If you live in a newer home and have space for a 4-inch, then do that. Do you have someone in your house with allergies or asthma? Do you live by a field? Those are things to take into consideration when looking at quality air in your home.
- Find a way to remember to change it often, whether that is monthly for 1-inch filters or every three to six months for 4-inch filters. Either buy a bunch at once so you have them and set your calendar to remind you to change it, or sign up for Amazon subscribe so they are sent automatically.
- Don’t buy into the hype that you need the most expensive air filter. That isn’t always the best. For more information on filters or to order your year supply of filters, contact Wyckoff’s service department at (515) 287-6000.
- To maximize the best air quality for your family, evaluate your situation. It’s easy to feel the dryness or moistness in the air, but the quality is hard to determine. If someone has allergies or asthma and it’s important to be sure your air quality is ultra pure, it’s best to talk to a heating and cooling company (like Wyckoff!). They can come out and evaluate the house and give you options to modify your existing system so you can evaluate the next steps for your family. There are all kinds of “baby steps” you can take whether it’s ultraviolet lights or plasma modules. You can take a conservative approach that isn’t costly for your family.
About Wyckoff Heating & Cooling
As a family-owned and operated business, Wyckoff Heating & Cooling is proud of our service-oriented roots that span four generations and over 65 years of business. We understand the values that are important for a successful business. Serving and connecting with our customers has always been our number one priority.
Wyckoff’s resiliency can be attributed to many factors, but mostly to a combination of outstanding customer service and selection of quality products. Today, the company sets industry standards. Wyckoff is a ClimateMaster GeoElite Dealer, employs the most SAVE certified technicians in the state, is a two-time recipient of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America Certified Dealer award, and earned the Angie’s List Super Service Award in 2012.
Wyckoff Heating & Cooling is the contractor of choice for many of Central Iowa’s premier homebuilders. In addition, Wyckoff works with many of the area’s best-known individual and franchised commercial businesses. And, we have the distinction of providing service for many local school, governmental, and institutional customers.
Connect with Wyckoff
24-Hour Service – (515) 285-3111
Do you have an HVAC system emergency, or is your furnace or air conditioner in need of a tune-up? The professionals at Wyckoff Heating & Cooling are available 24 hours a day. Our round-the-clock service allows you to contact a skilled technician, not a recording, day or night. The best part is – that technician is located right here in Central Iowa.