Conservation

Published on December 18th, 2014 | by Peter Young

How To Install A Filter Whistle On Your A/C Unit

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If you’re looking for a quick, easy and inexpensive way to make your home more energy efficient, try installing a filter whistle on the filter of your homes HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system. Filter whistles are simple devices that, when clogged, start to whistle. So this is effectively an “alarm” that tells you when your filter needs to be cleaned or replaced.

Keeping your filter clean will not only help to ensure that your system is using energy efficiently, they’ll also help to ensure that your HVAC system is pumping clean, debris free air throughout your home. When your HVAC systems filter becomes dirty and clogged it forces your system to work harder to circulate air throughout your home, which in turn causes it to use more energy and cost you more money. Just follow these easy steps to install a filter whistle and start saving both money and energy today.

Things you’ll need for the job:

  • Filter Whistle
  • HVAC Filter

How to install a filter whistle

Before getting started, check out this quick video to see just how easy it is to install a filter whistle:

1. Locate your HVAC systems filter. Depending on your system, the filter could be located in a number of different locations. In some cases it could be behind a grate in the wall or ceiling of your home, or possibly located on the HVAC unit itself. If you’re unsure of where your units filter is, check with the owners manual that came with your unit or contact the installer.

2. Remove the filter. Once you’ve located the filter for your unit, removing it is as easy as sliding it out of place. In some cases you may need to remove a protective housing, but it should slide out with little to no resistance. Once you’ve removed the filter be sure to give it a visual inspection, does it it need to be replaced? If so, be sure to have a replacement filter handy.

3. Install the filter whistle. Your filter whistle will come in two pieces (a “base” and “hat”). All you have to do is align the two pieces on the appropriate side of the filter and press them together/ through the filter. You’ll want to be sure that the base is facing the direction of the incoming airflow and that the cap is on the opposite side, where the air exits the filter.

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 11.41.14 AM

4. Install the filter back into your HVAC system. Now that you’ve installed the filter whistle all you have to do is put the filter back in place. Just be sure it’s facing the right way, otherwise the filter whistle won’t work properly. Once you’ve put the filter back in place (and any any other coverings or grates) you’re all set.

Installing on reusable filters

If you are working with a reusable air filter, you can still put in a filter whistle. I wrote AM Conservation, a wholesaler of all things home efficiency, and they said that the whistle can be reused over and over, even on a reusable filter. The key, they said, is to make sure that the hole around the filter whistle is a snug one–if there’s air flow around the whistle, it will not work as well.

If you’re looking for more ways to make your home energy efficient, be sure to check out our green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!

Furnace Filter Whistle Install from National Energy Foundation on Vimeo. Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons (Dirty Filter)

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About the Author

graduated from Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) with a degree in journalism and has made sustainability and eco-conscious living mainstays of both his professional and personal life. It was during his time at PLU that he began his journey with sustainability and it's what has led him to writing for Green Living Ideas. He currently resides in Honolulu and works for Pono Home, an energy efficiency company focused on reducing carbon emissions and promoting a healthier, greener lifestyle.



  • Kevin Field

    This is a very interesting post. I was not aware of this “Filter Whistle”, it can be very useful. Many of us forgot to clean or change the filter regularly. This alarm can actually give you a wake up call to check the filter. Thus, in the long run, your HVAC system can stay in good condition.

  • Geo. Mullikin

    The Filter Whistle comes with instructions, at the bottom of which is this: “Note: Hollow portion of filter whistle must face towards equipment.” This seems to be the opposite of your direction and picture in step 3.

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