Check Air Filters to Extend Your HVAC System

Written by Angie's List Staff
Updated September 15, 2015
HVAC system panel
Consider these tips to improve your HVAC system's efficiency and lifespan. (Photo by Summer Galyan)

Check your HVAC manufacturer's recommendations for best air filter options for your home's HVAC system.

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Energy Star.gov recommends checking your HVAC system's air filter every month, especially during the winter and summer months when the system gets more use. If the filter looks dirty after a month, it's a good idea to change it to help extend the life of your HVAC system.

At a minimum, Energy Star recommends replacing your air filter once every three months.

Doing this regular HVAC maintenance pays off. A dirty filter may cause the system to work harder, run longer, consume more energy and ultimately shorten its life. Change the air filter yourself, or hire a licensed, bonded and insured HVAC contractor to inspect your system before the winter or summer season swings into high gear.

When choosing your air filter, understand the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV), which measures the effectiveness of the filter. Less efficient HVAC filters have a lower MERV rating, while more efficient ones boast a higher MERV rating. HVAC filters with a MERV rating between 9 and 12 are usually the best choice for dust control.

The National Air Duct Cleaners Association says not to skimp on price; better filters block more particles and last longer than cheap ones.

How do you keep your HVAC system in working order? Share your tips in the comments below.

Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally published on May 3, 2010. 

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