20 Apr 2013

Saving the World One Filter At A Time – But Does It Really Work?

 World One FilterAtlanta, Georgia – Every day we are bombarded with ways to help save the environment, and the HVAC community is no different. In addition to using more energy efficient air conditioners and furnaces, homeowners also now have the option of using reusable and washable air filters.

But are these filters really as efficient at trapping dust and other contaminants as traditional filters? Phil Montgomery, a Marietta AC repair expert, explains the pros and cons of using washable air filters for homeowners.

The biggest benefit to using a washable air filter is the fact that it is more environmentally friendly. Rather than purchasing disposable filters that need to be replaced every one to three months, homeowners can purchase a washable filter that can last up to five years if cleaned and maintained properly. That means a homeowner can feel good about contributing less waste.

Another benefit homeowners appreciate is the cost in savings realized by using a washable air filter. While the upfront cost is considerably more than a one use filter that cost will typically be made up in just a few months of use. A washable filter can cost two to three times more than a standard disposable filter, but that filter will last years, while the disposable one will last at most three months. In today’s economy, any savings is a bonus for homeowners.

“Washable air filters are very effective at removing larger airborne particles,” says Montgomery, owner of Atlanta Heating and Air Conditioning, which provides Alpharetta cooling services. “However, tests show that they might not be as effective as other filters in capturing the smaller, almost microscopic particles that plague some homes. In homes with pets or smokers, the reusable filter may not be able to effectively remove the pet dander and smoke from the air.”

Why is that important to homeowners? Not only will those particles continue to circulate through the air, which can lead to illness and allergies for homeowners, it can also decrease the efficiency of a homeowner’s cooling unit, leading to service calls and even replacement. Air filters are needed not just to clean the air residents of a home breathe, but to also keep those contaminants from building up in the homes heating or cooling unit. Filters that are not changed or cleaned regularly will force the unit to work harder, therefor increasing its energy use and increasing a homeowner’s utility bill.

For homeowners looking for a low maintenance filter, a reusable filter may not be the best option. To ensure its effectiveness, a washable filter must be cleaned once a month. At first thought that seems easy. A homeowner can just remove the filter, take it outside and give it a quick rinse. Then it can go right back to work.

“Unfortunately, it’s not that easy,” says Montgomery. “That washable filter has been exposed to bacteria and other harmful contaminants. That means it can create hazardous waste water when it is cleaned. That water must be properly disposed of.”

Another hazard to reusable filters is mold. One of the jobs of a filter is to keep mold out of a home. But if a washable filter is not completely dried before it is replace, it can do the exact opposite. Mold grows in warm, moist, dark places – which is exactly the environment that is found when a reusable filter is put back in place while still damp. And because these filters aren’t as effective at blocking out contaminants, these mold spores can slip through and develop in other areas throughout a home.

Washable, reusable air filters seem like the perfect solution for homeowners looking to save some money while helping the environment. But before purchasing one, homeowners should be certain they understand the downside to these types of filters. Not properly cleaning the filter, or putting it back before it has completely dried, can actually cause more harm than good. And because they aren’t as effective at trapping smaller airborne particles, homes with pets or residents who smoke might actually be forcing their heating or cooling unit to work even harder.

To be sure your unit is running at its most efficient, call Atlanta Heating and Air Conditioning service for a maintenance appointment today.

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