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When it comes to heating or cooling your home efficiently, one of the most effective steps you can take is maintaining your HVAC system. Ensuring that your air filter is clean is one of the easiest ways to do this and doesn’t require any intricate knowledge of how your heater or air conditioner works.

Changing your air filter will not only improve your air quality at home, it will put money back in your wallet.

Changing your air filter on a regular basis is key to keeping your ventilation system functioning properly. If you neglect to change it regularly, you could be allowing dirt and dust to build up, requiring hundreds of dollars for professional maintenance and repair. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star program recommends changing your filter at least once every three months and paying special attention to its dust contents during heavy-use months in the summer and winter.

Depending on the way you use your HVAC system, you may need to change your filter more or less often than Energy Star’s recommendation. Here are some guidelines to follow for different living situations:

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Have allergies?

If you have allergies, you should keep a close watch on your air filter. Change it every month or so to make sure that your HVAC isn’t working overtime, and your nose isn’t either!

Have a vacation home?

If you have a vacation home, guest house, or other property that isn’t occupied very frequently, you may not need to change your filter as often. Having fewer people and animals around keeps your air filters cleaner longer, but you should still replace them once a year.

Have a pet?

If you do, your air filter likely takes in a fair amount of pet hair, so you should replace it more often. Every two months may suffice for a one-pet household, but if you have several dogs or cats you may want to replace your air filter every month to keep your HVAC in top working order.

How big is your home?

If you have a large home, you probably have a lot of people in it. Children coming in from outside, pets running around, and people visiting all track in dirt and dust that ends up in your air filter. If you have a big home or big family, you may need to check your filter more often. Looking once a month to see if your air filter is dirty is a great precaution.

Changing your air filter will not only improve your air quality at home, it will put money back in your wallet. The Department of Energy says that replacing your filter can reduce the energy consumed by your HVAC by 5-15 percent. That means that your system doesn’t have to work as hard, and your electric bill will be smaller every month.

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