Understanding the Impact of Clogged Air Filters On Energy Consumption

As soon as the chill begins to set in with fall, the need for indoor heating starts to push electricity bills up significantly with each passing month. This continues until winter finally arrives and skyrockets electricity bills to ridiculous amounts. This is pretty much what happens in summer too if you happen to live in Texas, Florida or any of the other hot states.

In both situations though, it’s the HVAC system that consumes all the energy, which is not exactly unexpected. What most of us don’t realize is that it’s most likely those clogged filters that are making the HVAC waste more energy than it should need.

How Do Clogged Filters Affect Your HVAC System?

Before we can discuss how clogged filters affect electricity bills, it is important to understand how clogged filters affect HVAC units in the first place.

The role of an air filter is simple enough; it stops as much of the air impurities as possible from entering and circulating in the indoor environment. After a while, all that dirt, dust, debris, etc., that the filter prevented from getting in begins to congeal together, slowly closing off the airways.

Once the accumulated gunk becomes heavy enough, the HVAC system has to work extra hard to push air past these narrow airways. This is where the problem lies, as a number of negative effects from the increased exertion and dirty filters are seen.

The Effects of Extra Load on HVAC Units

Given that an HVAC system isn’t equipped to handle all that extra load on a regular basis, a number of negative impacts are seen as a result of clogged air filters.

  • The unit begins to consume more power, to be able to push air past the dirty filters
  • The increased power consumption becomes evident, as energy bills surge in direct proportion
  • Excess load decreases the potential lifetime of an HVAC unit
  • The heat exchange mechanism can overheat and short-circuit
  • The cooling coil may freeze in absence of sufficient airflow for dissipating condensation during summer
  • Breakdowns become more common, further adding to the maintenance expenses
  • Both the heating and cooling capacities of the unit suffers; slower and less effective heating/cooling
  • Since the air is pushed through the gunk with force, it circulates all the dispersed pollutants throughout the house

How to Know When Your HVAC System Needs a Filter Change?

Some of the signs are pretty obvious, but you should act before they become too obvious and your unit breaks down in the middle of January! It can get a little costly to change air filters on a regular basis for sure, so try to get them from discountfilterstore.com.

Go through the following and it should provide a decent guide towards detecting the need for a filter change before the problems get too serious.

  • It has been more than three months since your last filter change
  • The filters are starting to look grey or develop spots
  • Increase in indoor dust accumulation
  • Increase in allergic reactions such as sneezing, skin rashes, etc.
  • Heating/cooling seems to be taking a lot longer than expected
  • Heating/cooling isn’t as effective as before

Air filters serve the vital function of keeping the indoor environment fresh and healthy for everyone, but those same filters can also become the cause for health and financial problems unless they are changed in time. As long as you keep track of the change cycle though, none of what we discussed should be a cause for concern.

About Salman Zafar

Salman Zafar is the CEO of BioEnergy Consult, and an international consultant, advisor and trainer with expertise in waste management, biomass energy, waste-to-energy, environment protection and resource conservation. His geographical areas of focus include Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Salman has successfully accomplished a wide range of projects in the areas of biogas technology, biomass energy, waste-to-energy, recycling and waste management. Salman has participated in numerous national and international conferences all over the world. He is a prolific environmental journalist, and has authored more than 300 articles in reputed journals, magazines and websites. In addition, he is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management and environmental sustainability through his blogs and portals. Salman can be reached at salman@bioenergyconsult.com or salman@cleantechloops.com.
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