Change Those Air Filters!
Have you ever tried to breathe through a sock? Hopefully the answer is no, but if you have, or if you’d like to try it right now (go ahead, I’ll wait), you’ve probably noticed that it’s significantly harder to breathe through that sock than to breathe without it covering your nose. While the point I’m trying to make could very well be about foot care, I’m actually speaking to the specifics of air flow.
When the sock is on your foot, air is flowing easily in and out of your lungs. When it’s wrapped around your head, not only do you look pretty strange, but your air flow is restricted because it’s harder to pull air in through the fabric of the sock. The thicker the sock, the harder it is to get air through it.
Many people don’t know this, but there are similar air flow situations within our everyday lives (assuming you don’t wear a sock on your face everyday) that can save you a fair amount of energy. And the great thing is, they’re not really that hard to keep on top of.
I’m talking about air filters. The first one up and the most important to keep on top of is your homes’ air system. Pretty much all automated systems installed within the last 10 to 15 years have some sort of an air filter. If you have such a device in your home, check with the paperwork that came with the system and you’ll find that most are supposed to be checked and/or replaced every six months. It’s a relatively simple operation and the filters tend to be in the $40 range depending on the system. That said, by keeping on top of this, your system will require less energy to move air through the house, your equipment will end up lasting longer because it doesn’t have to work so hard, and your air will be that much cleaner.
Next up is your lint filter. Now I know this is probably one most people who have a dryer are already on top of, but again, I’m surprised at how many people don’t clean their lint traps. This will save you money and equipment replacement over the long run for the same reasons as your house filter, with the added benefit of making the house safer. If the lint trap fills up too long, there is a possibility of fire due to the heat given off from the dryer, so there is a safety component here as well. And once you’ve scraped that trap clean, don’t chuck the little lint clump, feed it to your worms! Mine love it.
Finally, moving to the outside of your home, there is the air filter in your car. If you are the type of person to take your car in every 3000 miles for a checkup, you’re already covered. But if you’re like me, make sure to check that filter every couple of thousand miles or so. A simple visual check will tell you how bad it has gotten. By keeping the air filter clean, the car will run better, more efficiently, and compared to never changing the filter, most likely longer.
Every time you change one of these filters you’ll have to toss the old one, but thankfully, if you are willing to invest a little more, there are reusable filters for many cars and home heating systems. I can’t speak to any specific companies that make them at this time, but generally speaking the filters are washable and infinitely reusable. While the upfront cost is a bit more, these units will more than pay for themselves in the long run.
So check those air filters and for gosh sakes, get that sock off your head.
Dave Chameides is a filmmaker and environmental educator. His website and newsletter are designed to inspire thought and dialogue on environmental solutions and revolve around the idea that no one can do everything, but everyone can do something. “Give people the facts, and they’ll choose to do the right thing.”