Airflow1 has announced a clogged filter monitor, called the CFM-GM, that signals the ideal time to replace HVAC air filters, which the company says can help homeowners keep a cleaner indoor environment, reduce the need for maintenance on HVAC equipment and trim energy costs. The company currently has a Kickstarter campaign to fund the final development and production of the device.

Airflow1 notes that replacing HVAC air filters is necessary to keep equipment running at optimal efficiency, but knowing exactly when to replace them is equally important. Unfortunately, there has never been an easy or precise way to address that question. Filters become more efficient the longer they’re in place, so replacing one too soon is wasteful. But there comes a point when a filter is no longer performing at all, and the HVAC unit suffers a drop in efficiency, not to mention the accumulation of dust and dirt on the components and in the indoor environment. By some estimates, inefficient HVAC units waste up to a billion dollars in electricity each month.

Seeing this problem and finding there was no straightforward way to check for clogged air filters, engineer and product developer Mike Sweaton set out to design a solution that could adapt to most standard HVAC units.

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“My goals were to develop a product that was easy to install and see, cost effective for homeowners, and most of all, accurate. The reality is that many people change their filters on a set schedule, but that may not be ideal from a cost and resource-use perspective. Once in full production, I believe the CFM-GM will make a tremendous difference in our nation’s energy usage.”

The CFM-GM is said to allow homeowners to find the “sweet spot” — the moment just before a filter clogs and loses its efficiency. The device works by sensing the differential air pressure between the front and the back of the filter. Sweaton said he conducted rigorous testing and research to identify the most robust, accurate, and reliable pressure sensors.

The CFM-GM is designed to work with 1-inch width filters mounted in a wall or ceiling return grille. The device is also compatible with Supermechanical’s Twine, a wireless home monitoring system.