Determining the best time to change the air filter in one’s home is one of the more common questions people ask their electricity company and favorite home improvement experts. It’s also one of the most important factors in the size of your electricity bill and the health of your home’s Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system.

In this article, we will discuss the following topics:

  • Our recommendation for the best time to change the air filter in your home
  • The most common exceptions to our recommendation
  • The top benefits you’ll enjoy by following our recommendation

Our goal is to help you keep your HVAC system in excellent working condition for as long as possible — and to save you some money by becoming more energy-efficient.

What is the Standard Time Frame for an Air Filter Change?

The answer is simple:

You should change your filter once a month, every month, and optimally on the same day every month.

This “every 30 days” rule of thumb applies to basic fiberglass filters on the market. It’s especially true if you or a family member has allergies, you have a pet, or your home is located in an area with above-average pollution. 

Luckily, it’s easy to set reminders on your phone to both order new filters and replace old ones. In fact, many online retailers offer you the chance to set up a recurring shipment so that you always get a filter when you need it. 

In short, a clean air filter is essential for the free and clean flow of air, not only for the people breathing it, but also the HVAC unit creating it.

3 Exceptions to How Often You Should Change Your Air Filter

As with most things in life, there are exceptions to any general rule, including our suggestion of when you should change the air filter in your home. The three we mention below factor in your living situation, the type of filter you use, and more. Let’s examine them now.

Limited Air Conditioner Use

This includes folks who live in an area with mild winters and summers or people who own multiple homes that get used infrequently for vacation purposes or as an Airbnb. In essence, if you aren’t using your air conditioners often, then you probably need to change the filter once every 6 months.

Air Filters with a High MERV Rating

By “MERV,” we don’t mean Merv Griffin, the iconic talk show host and game show creator. We’re talking about MERV, “Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value” or rating of how good an air filter is at stopping particulate matter from spreading around your home by your HVAC unit. The higher the MERV rating of your air filter, the less often you need to change it — often only every three months (or 90 days).

Be forewarned: higher quality air filters are more expensive, and the ductwork and return vents in older homes aren’t set up to use such filters. So, if you think the tradeoff between a better air filter and a higher price point is worth it to you, there’s still a chance you can use one with a high MERV rating.

Fewer Pollutants

This simply means you live alone without a pet in a small home or apartment that doesn’t experience above-average pollution or pollen counts. In other words, your home doesn’t have lots of dust and allergens floating around, so you only need to change your filter every three months.

3 Benefits of Regularly Changing the Air Filter in Your House

Pro Tip: Indoor plants can also help improve air quality!

Whatever schedule works best for you, your home, and your situation, it’s important you still change your air filter regularly. The reasons for this basic form of home maintenance are rather straightforward and don’t require years of education at “Bob Vila University.”

Lowers the Stress on Your HVAC Unity

A dirty air filter means your HVAC unit is working extra-hard to pump air in your home at what should be normal levels. The harder it works, the faster it will need repairs and replacing. A clean air filter means the air is flowing freely through your home without any obstructions because your HVAC unit is operating at peak efficiency, which leads to a unit with longer life. 

Lowers Your Energy Usage and Bills

Additionally, when your HVAC unit starts working overtime to pump air through your home, that increases your electricity usage and bills. And as we’ve said before, your heating and cooling systems account for the largest percentage of your energy bills. By taking the simple step of replacing your air filter on a regular basis, your heater and air conditioner will work efficiently, which translates to more affordable energy bills.

Improves Your Indoor Air Quality

This one seems obvious, but we often forget it. A clean filter means your home has clean air. It’s the reason we recommend that families with children, pets, and allergy sufferers change the air filter in their home every single month. People need to breathe, and they deserve to breathe air that’s good for them. Replacing a dirty air filter with a clean one accomplishes this.

Schedule Your Air Filter Change

Lucky for you, we live in an era of unprecedented technological advances. So, whether it’s on your phone, your work calendar, your family’s shared digital calendar, or the old-school paper calendar stuck with a magnet to your refrigerator door, it’s essential you set clear reminders for yourself to change your air filter. Taking this one step could be what separates you from a large repair or medical bill in the future.