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Changing the air filter in your furnace regularly is an easy and essential way to maintain your HVAC (heating ventilating and air conditioning) equipment.

During the winter months, when you're running the heat constantly, dust and airborne particles can clog the filter. A dirty filter slows down airflow, which makes the system work harder to heat and cool your house. This translates into a less efficient system and higher energy bills. Filters should be changed at least every three months, or more often if you have allergies or furry pets.

To remove the current air filter:

1. First turn off the power to the furnace.
2. Then look for the filter near the air handler or inside the furnace by the blower. It may have a panel over it that needs to be popped off.
3. Once you locate it, slide the old filter up or out carefully to prevent the dust from going everywhere. Examine it (most are disposable with a cardboard frame) to find the make and size (dimensions are printed on the side) and write it down, or take it with you to the hardware store.

air filterFiltrete Ultra Allergen Reduction Filter can filter even microscopic particles allergens like dust, smoke, smog, and bacteria. Photo: The Home Depot

A new air filter can cost from $4 to $15 depending on the brand and style. The more expensive models have added allergen filtrations or odor absorption. Most big box stores carry them.

In fact, The Home Depot's website has this handy air filter buying guide to help you choose the right size and type of air filter for your HVAC system.

To install the new filter:

1. Simply slide the new filter in, making sure that the airflow arrow (on the top) is pointing in the same direction as the old one.
2. You might want to write the date on he new filter, just so you remember when you replaced it last.

Now you can breathe easily knowing that your filter is producing clean air!

  • David Y.

    I have just bought a new washable filter for my AC system, unfortunately the instructions didn't say which way to install it. One side is smooth, the other side is rough so if the airflow through the filter compartment goes up which way should it be installed. Thanks for any help on this question as I know filter orientation is important.

  • Wotehela

    There should be a little arrow pointing in the direction of air flow, put in the direction of airflow arrow pointing in that direction.

  • Richard Byrne

    you might not recognize the arrow, it is a fancy one and looks like a block with a pointy roof on it.

  • Janet

    I understand the arrow part. My problem is figuring out which way the air flows so as to have it point in that direction.

  • Ralph Tate

    I make it a point to change filters on the first day of each month. They are not that expensive and I even write the letter F on my calendar with a circle around it to remind me replace the filter. If seniors have E or EE bonds that have reached final maturity (30 years) they need to cash them on the first day of the month that they reach final maturity. Interest is paid for that whole month so... a big B is also posted on the calendar beside the filter reminder of the letter F.

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