We have good news and bad news for you.
We’ll start with the good news and ramble on from there.
The good news? You have our permission (c’mon, we know you were waiting for it) to return those super-duper-ultra-mega-max-premium-allergy-stopping accordion air filters that set you back $20 a pop to the store they came from.
Next, unless you’re a Cumberland Hardware customer, you’ll take that newly-minted Home Depot or Lowe’s return card to the filter aisle and grab about 15 of the cheapest spun fiber or fiberglass filters you can find. If you’re in Five Points, stop and pet the kitties for us and grab as many filters as you can.
Then, take your kid out for ice cream or grab a different kind of pint with the change.
Why are cheap air filters so great?
A better way to put it, perhaps, is this: more expensive air filters aren’t necessarily the best. In fact, they may not be all that much better for you and they’re certainly no better for your furnace.
Ready for a shocking revelation that’s not really part of our good news/bad news equation? Here’s the thing: your HVAC system isn’t really designed to improve your home’s indoor air quality. That’s what whole-house air filters or electrode humidifiers are for.
Sure, they can filter out some allergens, but the main function of a furnace filter is to keep your HVAC systems healthy and running cleanly and efficiently. That’s it.
So a furnace filter is very important, but it’s not really all that important to your body. An air filter helps keep your furnace and air conditioning units working properly by preventing particulates like dust, dirt, debris, gunk, and hair from mucking up the system.
The heavier and thicker your furnace filter is — and those ultra-performance polyester or cotton filters are very dense, indeed — the harder your furnace is going to work. The trade-off to cleaner air is that the performance of your system will drop dramatically.
Thicker filters make it much harder for air to flow into your HVAC unit. When your furnace or air conditioning system encounters resistance it causes the system to strain, making it much more expensive to operate.
Even lower-quality pleated or accordion-style filters can cause stress or friction on the blower motor. If you’re wondering how this can damage your air conditioning unit, well, it can compromise refrigeration by icing or freezing the coils. If could even lead to a fried compressor.
If you’re still in heating season (it’s February as we’re writing this, but it’s also East Nashville, so who knows), then that air pressure has to escape somewhere. Too much pressure on your ductwork can force heat out, causing moisture to condense and your ducts to sweat. We all know what moisture plus warmth plus darkness equals, right? We’ll do the math for you: mold and bacteria.
If allergies or asthma are an issue, there are better ways to improve your indoor air quality without sacrificing the performance, efficiency, and longevity of your AC unit or furnace. We’ve said it before but we’ll say it again: that’s what whole-house air filters or electrode humidifiers are for.
In a nutshell, a clean, inexpensive filter helps your furnace and air conditioner to operate a peak performance and prolongs the life of your furnace. Hey, a cheap filter also reduces your energy bill which means that you can save even more cash for cones or pints! It’s an all-around win.
Here’s the bad news: you really need to change your furnace air filter more often than you think you do.
Do you have pets that shed? Lots of them? Is there a smoker in the home? Are you running your house fan around the clock? Is your furnace working overtime to make up for your inefficient windows? Are you a big fan of cool, cool air conditioning? Do you live next to a dusty East Nashville construction site? Do you suffer from respiratory issues?
If you’re answering yes to any of these questions, plan on replacing that cheap air filter every two to four weeks. Even with the ice cream, you’ll save about $40-60 per year on filters alone and your furnace is going to be much, much happier.
Live in East Nashville or Madison? Contact Cumberland Cooling at 615-576-0742 to discuss furnace filters, compressors, ductwork, or the Preds. Estimates and opinions are always free.