With the hot summer months just around the corner, it is important to ensure that your heating and cooling systems work properly. This will ensure maximum efficiency, comfort, and temperature control. As a homeowner, it may seem like a daunting task to know how HVAC systems work or to identify when you need major repairs to be done.
You may be thinking about buying or servicing your existing system as the weather changes. 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 to operate. If you want to save money on your utility bill and keep your home comfortable all year long, you should take care of your system.
When you’re looking for a contractor, there are many things to keep in mind. Some of these overlap with what you should consider when hiring any contractor, but there are also specific things to think about when it comes to heating and cooling.
Purchase and Installation
Before you buy, consider having an energy audit done. An audit can help detect energy waste and usage, and your utility company may offer free, low-cost audits, a do-it-yourself kit or you could hire a specialist. Take steps to weatherize your home.
When choosing a new appliance, compare the performance of different brands and models. Study the product literature. Will the product do the job? What’s its repair history? How energy efficient is it? Will it handle your needs? Does it fit your budget?
Every product you buy must meet minimum standards set by the Department of Energy. Many products, however, exceed these standards. Ask about the energy guide label and the fact sheets or product directories for each system you consider. Compare efficiencies and operating costs as well as the purchase price. Check on available tax breaks and rebates before making a purchase.Always make sure that any contractor you hire to install your new HVAC system is an approved, authorized dealer by the manufacturer. The manufacturer offers these dealers certain benefits for meeting certain requirements, so it’s a good idea to work with one. If a dealer meets these requirements, it means the manufacturer trusts them to install and represent their products. Remember that the product warranty comes from the manufacturer and the workmanship warranty is from the installer.
Maintenance and Repair
Keep your cooling and heating systems well maintained, and they will last longer and save you money. Have them checked every year by a qualified technician. Spring and fall are the best times for servicing air conditioners, while winter is the ideal time for furnaces. You can also do some routine maintenance yourself—for example, by replacing or cleaning filters. But doing maintenance yourself may not be recommended depending on the problem.
Ask the service agent to test for carbon monoxide. This odorless gas can be deadly, so you may also want to install a carbon monoxide detector. If you need repairs, get written estimates for work. A full description of all related work should be included in the estimate if you plan to replace the system.
Be an energy-smart consumer and get the most from the energy you use.
Making sure you have a clean HVAC system saves energy as well. The filters in place to collect the dirt, dust, and hair actually do help in cutting back on consumption. Now is a good time for you to get your unit checked out with an expert to make sure there aren’t any leaks that need to be plugged in.