How Often Should You Change Your Air Filter? The Complete Guide

How Often Should You Change Your Air Filter?

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Want to lower your electricity bill? Move to Louisiana!

A recent study shows that Louisianians pay less for electricity than any other state. On the other end of the scale, residents of Connecticut, Alaska, and Hawai, have the highest electricity costs.

Luckily, you don’t have to move to start saving on your energy bill. By properly maintaining your HVAC system, you’ll be able to save on your energy bill. A great place to start is by regularly changing your air filter.

How often should you change your air filter? Read on to find out!

How Often Should You Change Your Air Filter?

Not everyone will have the same time frame for changing the air filter. Instead, the frequency you change your air filter will depend on your lifestyle and a couple of other variables.

Here are a few air filter changing timeline variables:

  • Do you have pets?
  • Do any household members have allergies?
  • Do you live in a polluted area?
  • Do you live in a dusty area?
  • Do you use your AC a lot?

How often should you change your air filter? If you answered yes to any of the questions below, you want to change your air filter at least every 3 weeks. However, if you find yourself saying no it’s the most of the answers above, you could get away with waiting 3 months to change your air filter.

For instance, let’s say someone lives by themself, rarely uses their AC, and doesn’t have any pets. They could get away with changing their air filter every 90 days.

However, if you added a dog or cat to the equation, they’d want to change their air filter every 60 days. If there are multiple pets, or someone in the household has allergies, the 3-week time frame is your safest bet.

Power of a Clean Air Filter

On top of filtering out tiny things like dust, your air filter also protects you from larger items that could damage your home. For example, let’s say a piece of your insulation became loose. Your air filter would be able to catch it and prevent it from causing presenting a fire risk.

Air Filter Tips for Parents

Studies show children enter the world with zero immunity to the hundreds of cold-causing viruses. Keeping the air filter fresh will help protect your child’s ability to breathe, and stay healthy.

Dangers of a Dirty Air Filter

A dirty air filter can do more harm than good.

Here are a few dangers of a dirty air filter:

  • Your air conditioning fan has to work harder
  • The entire house doesn’t cool off as much as that could
  • Your cooling system overheats
  • Household sickness because of mold are bacteria

When an air filter becomes dirty, it also becomes denser. The denser air filter is full of mold, dust, and everything that the filter was able to catch.

The density of the air filter makes it difficult for your air to flow freely in your home. You can learn more about the dangers by checking out this article from

Accumulair FC21X23A_4 MERV 6 Rating Air Filter/Furnace Filters, 21x23x1 (Actual Size) - 4 pack

How to Easily Change Your Air Filter

Now that you know more about how often to replace an air filter, and what happens if you don’t, you’re probably ready to put a clean filter in right now! However, before you start moving things around, make sure you’re certain you know every step you need to take. Here are the steps to follow when replacing your air filter:

  1. Find the location of your air filter
  2. Buy the right-sized air filter
  3. Align filter with placement arrows

The number of air filters, and location they’re in, vary from house to house.

Replacing Air Filter in Return Air Duct

To change your central air conditioner filter, you’ll need to access the return air duct. Begin by unhooking the latch that covers the grille. Next, wipe the grill clean, until there’s no longer any dust visible.

We find that using a microfiber cloth makes cleaning between the slates easier. To get in between the slates, try putting the microfiber cloth over the top of a butter knife. Now, you’ll be able to reach deeper in between the grille’s slates to remove the built-up dust.

After the grille is clean, you’re ready to place the new air filter into place. Removing the old filter, place the new one while paying attention to the arrow’s direction. The majority of filters will have an arrow printed on them.

The arrow lets you know what way the filter needs to face to help the furnace filter the airflow. When you’re putting the air filter in the right way, the arrow will point towards the furnace. If you put the filter in backward, the arrow will be pointing towards you.

A backward air filter won’t work efficiently and can strain the fan. Once you’re sure you have the filter facing the right direction, go ahead and set it into place. Now all you need to do is close the grille and secure the grille’s latch.

Air Filter Ratings

When you’re buying an air filter look at the packaging to find the Maximum Efficiency Reporting Value or MERV rating. The MERV rating lets you know how efficient the filter is at cleaning the air in your home. Air filters with high MERV ratings will be able to grab the smallest of particles.

5-Stage CERTIFIED MERV RATED Electrostatic Washable Permanent Furnace A/C Air Filter – The highest MERV rating of any lifetime filter - Traps particles including MOLD POLLEN SMOKE PET DANDER (20x20x1)

Signs Your Air Filter Isn’t Working

Let’s say you go to change your air filter, but when you remove the old one it doesn’t look dirty. When an old air filter looks clean, it’s a red flag that something’s not working right.

Do you suspect your air filter isn’t working properly?

Check these things to find out:

  • Does the air filter too loose?
  • Is the air filter upside down?
  • Is the air filter backward?
  • Is the MERV rating too low?

Double checking that your air filter has the proper placement and MERV rating, will help you save the most energy.

Be a Smart Homeowner

How often should you change your air filter? Now you know the answer varies by household.

By keeping up with your filter changes, you’ll be taking the best care of your home. For more ways to be a smart homeowner, check out the rest of this site.

How Often Should You Change Your Air Filter?