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It's almost a mantra in the HVAC industry: replace your air conditioner filters and furnace filters regularly. And for good reason. Air conditioner filters are one of the most important protective measures built into your unit. They increase the life of your AC by keeping it cleaner and in better operating condition, and they also work wonders when it comes to improving the air quality in your home.
Regular Maintenance Is Key
The industry suggests you change out your air conditioner filter every thirty days, though advances in technology claim that you can let some filters sit for 90 days before they need to be replaced. As a general rule, the only sure way to know when your filter needs attention is to inspect it regularly. If the filter is covered in a thick dust, it's time to either clean or change out your filter. A clogged filter does neither you nor your AC unit any good, and can actually increase your utility bills over time, since your unit has to work overtime to get the air it needs to cool your home.
Purchase the Best Filter for You
When purchasing an air conditioning filter it's important to know what your options are so you best meet your filtering needs.
Fiberglass Filters. If you're on a budget, your standard, thirty day fiberglass filter is better than nothing. But don't let this one sit. It will clog quickly, and after a month's use it will be doing you and your system more harm than good.
Electrostatic Filters. These are also disposable filters that should be changed monthly, though manufacturers claim that air flow through them creates an electrostatic charge that does a better job of trapping dust and other airborne contaminants. These are generally better choices if you or someone in your family suffers from any breathing problems such as asthma or allergies.
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Electronic Filters. Electronic filters are the top-dog as far as air conditioner filters go. They are hooked up to an electrical power source and do the best job of filtering contaminants from the air. They are also the most maintenance free filters, and can be cleaned for re-use, saving you the trouble of purchasing a new filter for every change.
Other Options. Of course, this is just a small sampling of the most popular air conditioner filters on the market. There are a number of other filters out there, all offering their own special benefits. Lysol treated filters claim to work wonders when it comes to reducing airborne bacteria, and microparticle and HEPA filters are supposed to be optimal as far as cleaning and purifying the air you breathe. There are even activated carbon filters to promote odor control in your home if that's a problem.
Matt Goering, formerly a carpenter and house painter, is a freelance writer for the home improvement industry who has published over 600 articles.