The most expensive dirt in the world may lurk in your home’s heating and cooling system. If neglected, dust collecting the equipment’s air filter could increase your energy bills hundreds of dollars every year and result in costly repair or replacement costs.
Dirty filters cause a system to work harder and break down faster. That’s because unfiltered dust and grime work into critical parts, creating friction that causes unnecessary wear and, eventually, failure.
As you move around your home you drive dust into the air from carpets, drapes, and furniture. Pets generate dust particles by shedding, grooming, and tracking in dirt from outside.
Regardless of where it comes from, dust trapped in a heating and cooling system air filter leads to several problems, including:
- Reduced air flow in the home and up to 15 percent higher operating costs.
- Costly duct cleaning or replacement
- Lowered system efficiency.
Every time a system with a dirty filter kicks on, the day of reckoning—total replacement—draws closer. To avoid this expense, change filters monthly when a system’s in regular use. Discuss cleaning the unit and ductwork with your heating and cooling service professional.
While most types of filters must be replaced, a few filters are reusable. They’re available in a variety of types and efficiencies, rated by a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). MERV, a method developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, tests filter effectiveness. The higher the MERV number, the higher the filter’s effectiveness at keeping dust out of your system.
Contributed by John Bruce, a freelance writer based in South Carolina. He writes on energy efficiency for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.
Sources: High Performance HVAC, U.S. Department of Energy