Understanding the importance of AC filters

Conway Corp’s Energy Smart program is one of the many ways we’re balancing increasing demands for electricity with our commitment to providing affordable rates to Conway residents. Now that the summer heat is officially here, it’s especially important for homeowners to understand how their air conditioners work to keep energy bills low and homes comfortable. Unfortunately, the highest level of interaction most of us have with our air conditioners comes from adjusting the thermostat.

Air conditioners work hard to keep us cool, and air filters play an important role in that. An air conditioner works by pulling in air from the outside, cooling it, then sending it throughout the home. When it pulls in air from the outside, it can also grab outside pollutants like dust, mold and allergies that get sent through ductwork along with the cooled air.

This is why your filter is so important. The air filter’s job is to stop all the pollutants from reaching you while keeping air fresh and germ free. After time, a filter gets dirty from all the pollutants it’s filtering out of the air. When this happens, it needs to be replaced.

Filters should be replaced about once a month for air conditioning units to work properly. If they are neglected, units will not run at peak performance and other negative effects could occur including:

Poor air quality
Higher energy bills
Inconsistent room temperatures
Expensive AC repairs
Reduced home comfort

Filters are made of a variety of materials and are rated by efficiency. What type of air filter we choose for our homes can have a huge impact on air quality. It’s important to get the right kind of filter for a home’s needs. The minimum efficiency reporting value goes from 1-20 and is used to rate the filters. Generally for home central air units, you’ll want a filter between 5 and 12. These effectively filter mold, pet dander, household cleaning sprays, spores and more. As for the size, check what the unit needs simply by looking at the old filter.

While disposable filters have to be replaced once a month, changing them out is easy. Just remove the dirty filter, slide the new one into position, and you’re done. They typically have higher ratings than reusable filters and are more efficient at catching and trapping debris when changed regularly. Disposable filters are also pretty inexpensive depending on the type you choose.

Reusable filters require cleaning just as often as disposable filters require replacement, but can be manually cleaned and dried at your home. While they might cost a little more upfront, they may save money in the long run because you’re not replacing them as often. If cleaned regularly, a reusable filter can last up to five years.

No matter which filter, having a fresh filter in a home can make a huge difference. Replacing or cleaning a home’s filter once a month will improve the home’s indoor air quality and reduce the amount of dust that collects. Plus, an air conditioner will run much more efficiently when the filter is clean, and that means it uses less energy to do its job, which can result in lower utility bills each month.

On average, the energy an air conditioner uses makes up about half of an energy bill each month, so spending a few dollars on a clean air conditioning filter can make a big difference on your monthly budget.  

To learn more about the Energy Smart program or to find other ideas and tips for energy efficiency, contact Conway Corp at 501.450.6000 or visit ConwayCorp.com/EnergySmart.

Conway Corp customers are eligible for free residential energy audits and zero-percent interest loans for qualified energy efficient improvements.