The importance of changing your furnace filter is actually much higher than most people think. It can effect a multitude of different aspect inside your home, including your own health. There are a few things to consider when it comes to your filter. But what is helpful, and what is just hype?
First let’s consider what is actually taking place when your furnace kicks on. As the temperature drops in your house (or gets too high in the summer) your thermostat reads it and send the signal down to the control board based on the settings/programming you have in place. Then (if it’s winter) the system begins to prime the heater within the furnace and awaits cold air. At this point the blower unit begin to spin, effectively bringing cold air from the “cold air return” vents in your home through the heating chamber, and blowing warm air throughout. This last part is very important when it comes to your filter.
Between your cold air return and the heating chamber sits your furnace filter. It keeps dust and particulates from going through the rest of your furnace and in turn the rest of your house. Having a clean filter in place is essential to ensure the following.
A clean filter means clean air. I’m sure you’ve heard how the air inside your home I far dirtier than the air outside. That’s usually because people don’t change their filters. This is crucial if you have shedding pets in the home as well. Without a filter in place you are breathing much more than just air. You are breathing everything that is sucked in off of the floor by your cold air returns redistributed into the air. Gross.
If your filter is clogged with pet hair, dust bunnies, etc., you are limiting air flow through your furnace. This will put a strain on the blower itself, increasing your hydro cost and risking breakdown. Furthermore, if it takes twice as long to have that much air pass through the system to heat your house, you are in turn using twice as much in utilities. It may not seem like much at first, but these pennies can quickly add up.
Now even though the primary purpose of the filter is to keep your furnace clean, there is a lot of advertisement geared toward allergen reduction and air quality. I have read things on both sides about whether or not the high end units really catch the pollen floating around, or reduce pet dander. Are they really worth the extra money? On one hand their corrugated make up increases surface area to catch more junk, but they need to be changed more frequently to ensure their effectiveness. That can add up to big money over time. I say split the difference. Find yourself a corrugated filter that maintains good airflow to keep your furnace running clean and efficiently. But whatever you choose, just don’t forget to change them on a regular basis. Your wallet and your lungs will thank you.