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4 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your AC Filter

Most homeowners treat their filter like they treat their in-laws: they deal with them on an as-needed basis only.

But you’re shooting yourself in the foot if you follow that approach. Why? Well, ignoring even a slightly clogged filter actually lowers your AC’s efficiency and increases your monthly energy bills.

To prevent that, we’ll show you some super easy ways to get the most out of your air filter (and save money in the long run).

Filter tip #1: Make sure you’re using the right “MERV”

Every filter has a specific “MERV” that rates how many particles the filter can capture, based on particle size. Basically, the higher the MERV, the finer the filtration (meaning even very small particles are trapped by your filter).

AC Filter MERV

Not sure what your filter’s MERV is? Check the side of the filter for the MERV rating.

You most likely have a MERV 1–4 filter right now—most homeowners use these filters because they’re cheap. The downside? They only catch large particles, meaning they provide minimum protection for your AC.

So what’s the “right” MERV upgrade to make? Well, it really depends on what you want from your filter:

  • Want to keep your HVAC super efficient? Go with a MERV 5–8.
  • Want to improve your home’s air quality? Go with a MERV 9–12.

Note: The higher the MERV, the faster the filter clogs and blocks airflow into the AC system. So, if you’re going higher than a MERV 8, make sure you get a thicker (4 inches), pleated filter.

Filter tip #2: Set reminders for filter replacement

Some homeowners don’t mean to ignore their air filter—they just can’t remember to replace them on a regular basis. As harmless as it sounds, forgetting a clogged filter can get pricey.

To make it easier on yourself, we suggest using your smartphone to help you remember. Most smartphones today allow you to “set reminders” or create an event for a future date. The typical homeowner uses these tools every day but don’t think about setting alarms to remind them to replace their air filter!

So how often should you set the alarms? The best reminder to change your filter is when the electric bill comes in (as the bill will never be late) if the filter is dirty or plugged it will raise the electric bill causing the unit to work harder and will cause the unit to freeze up! Want more detail specific to your filter? Well, it depends on the filter:

  • For MERV 1–4: set your alarm for 2–3 months out
  • For MERV 5–8 (less than 2 inches thick): set your alarm for 1–2 months out
  • For MERV 8+ (less than 2 inches thick): set your alarm for every month

You can adjust the timing of your alarms as you go (i.e. if the filter is completely clogged when your alarm goes off, shorten the time between replacements).

Filter tip #3: Keep the thermostat fan set to AUTO (not ON)

On vs Auto Thermostat

When you set the thermostat fan to ON, your AC blower runs non-stop—even when the AC isn’t on a cooling cycle.

So why is that bad for your filter? Well, the blower doesn’t just push cold air into your home; it also sucks warm air into the AC system. And when the blower brings in air, it passes through the filter, where contaminants are trapped.

So, if the blower is constantly sucking in warm (dirty) air from your home, your filter will clog up much faster than you are used to, meaning your energy bills will jump up and your AC unit will suffer.

Filter tip #4: Get annual AC maintenance

During a maintenance visit, your tech should check your air filter and replace it if needed (at no additional cost). This helps to keep your AC unit healthy and clean—without any work on your behalf.

Other reasons to get AC maintenance at least once a year include:

  • It lowers monthly bills due to improved efficiency
  • It reduces the risk of AC repairs/breakdown
  • It keeps your AC warranty valid

Ready to schedule AC maintenance?

Just contact us. We have AC maintenance packages that offer more “bang for your buck”.

Starting at just $259/yr, you get:

A 100-point tune-up

2 maintenance visits a year

Discounts on repairs

Discounts on new equipment purchases

Extended warranty on repairs

And much more...