BBB Tip: Purchasing and Maintaining Your Heating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems

Texas residents are already experiencing triple-digit temperatures this year, with meteorologists forecasting a continued heat wave across much of the Lone Star State.

Whether you’re a newcomer to Texas or a seasoned resident, staying cool during record-breaking temperatures this summer will be important. With about three months of summer remaining, chances are the current heatwave won’t be the last this year. Unfortunately, many Texans find that their air conditioning units are not able to meet their needs and may be looking for a reputable company to service their current unit or install a new one. Although many considerations that consumers must take into account when hiring an HVAC contractor are similar to hiring any other contractorthere are a few that are specific to heating and cooling.

Heating and cooling systems are among the biggest energy expenditures in a typical home, so it’s important to make sure they’re running as efficiently as possible. The cost of any appliance, including air conditioners, consists of three components: the purchase price, the cost of repairs and maintenance, and the cost of operation.

HVAC Buying and Installation Tips

Before buying a new unit, perform an energy audit to help you detect energy waste, assess the efficiency of your current system, and determine if the air conditioning is moving properly. Many utility companies offer free or low-cost energy audits, but you can also hire a specialist to perform a more comprehensive audit. Keep in mind that hiring a specialist will likely cost more, but their experience is often invaluable when purchasing new systems.

Take steps to air-condition your home to keep cold air in and warm air out, or vice versa in the winter. Check caulking and weather stripping around doors and windows, as well as wall and ceiling insulation. Weatherizing your home may be all you need to help your air conditioning unit maintain a cool temperature inside and will help reduce energy requirements. A properly weathered house can also allow you to install a smaller, less expensive system to achieve the same results.

Consider energy efficiency early in your decision-making process. All air conditioning units must meet minimum energy efficiency standards set by the Department of Energy, but many products exceed the standard, reducing energy consumption to run and operate the system. Be sure to check whether your energy provider offers cash rebates or tax breaks for the purchase and use of energy-efficient products and take this into account when comparing energy efficiency and operating costs. different systems.

After your new system is installed, the contractor must provide at least one free call-back service to verify proper operation. Check that this service is included in the written agreement. Many contractors also offer service contracts that often include a limited number of service calls per year and emergency repair service. If you decide to participate in a service contract, make sure it describes the parts and services provided and does not duplicate the coverage you already have under your new system’s warranty.

HVAC maintenance and repair tips

Keeping your system well maintained will extend the life of the system and save you money. Spring or early summer are the best times for servicing cooling systems, while summer or fall are ideal times for servicing your furnace. You can also perform routine maintenance yourself by replacing disposable filters or cleaning permanent filters. Before calling an HVAC contractor, check your system model and take the time to understand the licensing and insurance requirements for contractors. Find more information about licensing requirements and verify that your contractor has a valid license, recognized by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, by searching for the contractor’s name on TDLR.Texas.gov.

If you need repairs, be sure to get several written estimates for the job. BBB recommends obtaining an estimate from at least three contractors before making a final decision to help consumers understand the standard project price and have an informed discussion with the chosen contractor. Estimates must include a full description of additional work required to install ductwork, dampers, electrical wiring and any other work required.

Find trusted and approved HVAC contractors near you at BBB.org and review other home maintenance tips at BBB.org/HomeHQ.

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