Tips for Hiring a Heating and Cooling Contractor
Find out about license and insurance requirements for a contractor in your state. And before you call a contractor, know the model of your current system and its maintenance history. Also make note of any uncomfortable rooms. This will help potential contractors better understand your heating needs.
Ask friends, neighbors, and co-workers for contractor referrals. You can also contact local trade organizations for names of members in your area.
A heating and cooling system is one of the largest purchases you’ll make as a homeowner. Keep your costs down by checking around for available rebates on energy-efficient ENERGY STAR qualified heating and cooling equipment. Begin your search at www.energystar.gov.
ENERGY STAR qualified products meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and offer significant long-term energy savings. Contractors should be able to show you calculations of savings for ENERGY STAR heating and cooling equipment.
Expect a home evaluation — The contractor should spend significant time inspecting your current system and home to assess your needs. A bigger system isn’t always better; a contractor should size the heating and cooling system based on the size of your house, level of insulation, and windows. A good contractor will inspect your duct system (if applicable) for air leaks and insulation and measure airflow to make sure it meets manufacturers specifications.
Get written, itemized estimates — When comparing contractors’ proposals (bids), be sure to compare cost, energy efficiency and warranties. A lowest price may not be the best deal if it’s not the most efficient because your energy costs will be higher.
Don’t just go with the lowest bidder. There is a lot of money that goes into running a high-quality heating and air conditioning company. A quality contractor will be up-to-date on all training, permits, licenses and more. So, the contractor who offers the lowest cost, may not be as current on technology or may have cut corners to offer that lower rate.
Make sure they are familiar with your equipment. Different service technicians may be trained on different equipment. Before you hire a contractor, make sure they are familiar with a particular brand.
Get it in ink — Sign a written proposal with a contractor before work gets started. It’ll protect you by specifying project costs, model numbers, job schedule and warranty information.
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