How often should you change your air filter?

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Susan Meyer

Senior Editorial Manager

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  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebr…

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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

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  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

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air filter changing hero

 

Dust, pollutants and allergens make themselves right at home inside your air filter. As a renter or homeowner, it’s usually your responsibility to stay on top of changing out your filter regularly but how often?

How often should you change your air filter?

You may be wondering how often you really need to change your air filter, and the answer is that it varies. Most air filter products recommend changing monthly to maintain an efficient HVAC system and clean air quality.

Some households may be able to get by changing it every 90 days or so, depending on several factors (more on that below). 

Factors influencing filter replacement frequency

  1. Type of filter: High-efficiency filters, such as HEPA filters, may need to be changed more frequently than standard filters because they trap more particles. Conversely, some high-quality pleated filters can last up to six months.

  2. Household size and activity: The more people and pets in your home, the more debris and allergens will be circulating through your HVAC system. For larger families or households with pets, it may be necessary to change the filter every 60 days or even monthly.

  3. Allergies and asthma: If anyone in your household suffers from allergies or asthma, it's wise to change the filter more frequently to ensure cleaner air. Monthly replacements are often recommended in these cases.

  4. Air quality: Homes in areas with poor outdoor air quality, such as those near busy roads or industrial sites, will require more frequent filter changes. Similarly, if you live in an area prone to wildfires, you may need to replace your filter more often during fire season.

  5. HVAC usage: During peak usage periods, like the height of summer or winter, your HVAC system works harder and circulates more air. This can cause the filter to clog more quickly, necessitating more frequent changes. Checking the filter monthly during these times is a good practice.

Signs it's time to change your air filter

Your air filter helps trap small particles of dust, pet dander and pollen among other things. If your air filter is obviously dirty when you go to change it, you might want to consider checking it more often and replacing it as necessary. Here are some signs that it needs to be replaced:

  • Visible dirt and dust: If the filter looks dirty and clogged, it's time for a new one.
  • Increased allergy symptoms: If you notice more dust around your home or increased allergy symptoms, your filter may not be working effectively.
  • Higher energy bills: A clogged filter makes your HVAC system work harder, increasing your energy consumption. If your bills are rising without a clear reason, the filter might be the culprit.

Dangers of not changing your air filter often enough

As a renter or homeowner, there are many repairs and maintenance to keep up with. This means there are also many costs associated with having a safe and protected home. If you still aren’t convinced that your air filter needs to be replaced regularly, you might be missing out on savings, both in energy bills and repair costs.

 

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Why it’s important to change your air filter regularly

By now, you’ve learned that regular maintenance can help you avoid certain costs. In addition to saving money, changing your air filter on a routine basis can provide eco-friendly rewards and potential health benefits.

  • Clean air: Air filters help trap air particulates and may help people living with respiratory issues breathe easier. Although air filters can’t prevent all harmful particulates from circulating through your home, the evidence can be seen in the dirty filter you replace each month. 
  • Save energy: According to the Department of Energy, regularly changing your air filter is the easiest way to reduce energy consumption. They report that you can save anywhere from five to 15 percent of energy consumption with a clean filter. Go green by staying clean.
  • Save money on bills: This goes hand in hand with saving energy — if you’re reducing your energy consumption, your utility bill should also reap the benefits. 
  • Save money on repairs: Your HVAC system works hard to heat and cool your home. Help it run efficiently by changing the filter regularly so that it doesn’t work harder than it needs to. 

 

Are Americans changing their air filters enough?

Changing your filter regularly can help reduce energy consumption, save you money and help keep the air quality of your home clean. Two-thirds of American households have air conditioning systems, but after surveying 1,000 people to ask how often they change the air filter in their home, we found that a shocking amount of people admit to some dirty habits. 

Our findings revealed:

  • Twenty-nine percent of Americans never change their air filter in their home. 
  • The majority of Americans (82 percent) fail to change their air filter monthly. 
  • Of those who do change it, most people (31 percent) only change it every few months.

 

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How often do people change their air filter?

 

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If you’re guilty of forgetting to replace your air filter on a regular basis, you’re not alone. We found an overwhelming majority of people (82 percent) responded that they fail to change their air filter monthly. Changing your filter monthly ensures that you aren’t allowing allergens and dust to keep circulating into your home, creating cleaner air for your family. 

Nearly half of people (43 percent) felt it was extremely important to change the air filters in their home, yet only 18 percent of people change their air filter once a month. As our lives get busier, regular home maintenance falls down on our to-do list, especially when we aren’t aware of any issues. However, if you’re a pet owner, you know just how much dirt and fur can accumulate on your floor, furniture and clothing. Have you ever thought about how that affects your air quality?

 

Other regular home maintenance

Keeping a clean and safe home is a large job, but the payoff is worth it. Regular cleaning and maintenance help keep your house in good shape while taking care of problem areas early can help avoid costly issues. It can be easy to overlook smaller items like your air filter, but you can set reminders on your phone or calendar to stay on top of things. This home maintenance schedule highlights some of the boxes that should be checked off throughout the year.

 

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Whether you rent your home or own a house yourself, keep your space healthy and safe with regular maintenance and cleaning. For more tips on maintaining your home and saving money where you can, check out our top pieces of advice for homeowners. 

 

Methodology

This study was conducted for The Zebra using Google Consumer Surveys. The sample consisted of no less than 1,000 completed responses per question. Post-stratification weighting has been applied to ensure an accurate and reliable representation of the total population. This survey was conducted in July 2019.

 

Sources 

Healthline | Home Advisor | Department of Energy