CHRIS COLEMAN BEST OFFICE BUSINESS
As the weather changes, you may be thinking of buying or maintaining your existing system. The total cost of any appliance, including heating and cooling systems, has three components: the purchase price, the cost of repairs/maintenance and the cost of operation. With heating and cooling being a major expense in a typical home, it is essential that you maintain your system to ensure its efficiency.
Many things to consider when hiring an HVAC contractor are consistent with what to consider when hiring a contractor. There are also specific heating and cooling considerations.
Purchase and installation
Before buying, consider an energy audit. This will help detect energy waste and usage. Your utility company may offer free and inexpensive audits, a DIY kit, or you can hire a specialist. Take steps to optimally air-condition your home.
Compare the performance of different brands and models. Study the product documentation. Will the product do the trick? What is its repair history? What is its energy efficiency? Will it meet your needs? Does it fit your budget?
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All products must meet minimum standards set by the Department of Energy, but many may exceed the standard. Ask about the EnergyGuide label and information sheets or product directories for each system you are considering. Compare efficiency and operating costs as well as purchase price. Check the tax breaks and discounts available.
Make sure that any contractor you hire to install your system is an authorized, manufacturer-approved dealer. This means that they meet their requirements and the manufacturer trusts them to install and represent the product. Remember that the product warranty comes from the manufacturer and the manufacturing warranty comes from the installer.
Maintenance and repair
Proper maintenance of your system will prolong its life and save you money. Have it checked regularly by a qualified technician. Spring or early summer is best for servicing cooling systems, while fall is the perfect time for your furnace. You can also perform routine maintenance yourself by replacing or cleaning the filters.
Verify that the repairer performs a carbon monoxide test. This odorless gas can be deadly, so you may also want to consider installing a carbon monoxide detector. If you need repairs, get written quotes. In the event of a system replacement, the estimate must include a full description of all related work required for the installation.
Be an energy-efficient consumer and get the most out of the energy you use.
• Seasonally, shade your room from direct sunlight or use thermal curtains.
• Monitor the thermostat setting when you go out to reduce costs.
• Vacuum vents, move furniture and curtains that restrict operation.
• Schedule regular maintenance and tune-up visits; clean or replace filters.
• Completely isolate spaces as required and seal ducts.
• Prune shrubs that block AC airflow.
• Consider installing ceiling fans to help circulation.
To find trusted contractors, visit www.bbb.org or call the BBB: 515-243-8137.