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A snappy guide to a healthy heat-pump filter

July 22, 2015   By Willard Strong in Reduce The Use

Raise your hand if it seems your heat pump's been staying on more this summer.

Yeah, my hand's up too.

Since it's too hot to go anywhere, this latest heat wave is a good time to check the indoor air filter on your heat pump. (Your system may have more than one.) If your heat pump's running more than normal, it means the filter is clogging up quicker, which means the heat pump is working harder, which means it isn't working as efficiently, which means increased power usage.

No one needs that.

Deciding on the type of filter for your heat pump isn't easy — another example of life presenting so many product choices. Allergy sufferers may opt to spend a little more on a filter that removes allergens like dust and pet dander from the air, while there are plenty of consumers who are perfectly fine with spending the bare minimum.

It's important to remember that the more effective a filter is, the likelier it will clog up quicker. Some brands of filters are advertised to last up to three months, but only under "normal use." It's been abnormally warm. And Santee Cooper has routinely recommended checking your filter every month and if necessary, replacing it with a new one.

Several things can shorten the life of an air filter: dirty duct work, construction work, sanding projects, pets, burning candles, tobacco smoke and fireplace/wood-burning stove smoke, etc. One recommended way to determine if a filter needs to be changed is to hold it up to a light source. If you cannot see any light through the filter, it should be changed.

If you have allergies or just want cleaner indoor air, you may benefit from a more expensive filter. Just remember to check it more often than the prescribed three months. You'll breathe easier, allow your heat pump to do the same, and you may even save a little on your electric bill.