More tips for choosing the best HVAC contractor for your home’s heating and cooling needs.
Expect a home evaluation:
- The contractor should spend significant time inspecting your current system and home assessing your needs.
- The heating and cooling system size is based on the size of your house, level of insulation, and windows.
- An inspection of your duct system (if applicable) for air leaks and insulation and to measure airflow.
Get written, itemized estimates:
- Compare cost, energy efficiency and warranties of at least 3 contractor’s bids.
- A lowest price may not be the best deal if it’s not the most efficient (your energy costs will be higher).
Get it in ink:
- Sign a written proposal with a contractor before work gets started.
- The contract protects you by specifying project costs, model numbers, job schedule and warranty information.
Purchase ENERGY STAR products:
- They meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA.
- They offer significant long-term energy savings.
- Contractors should be able to show you calculations of savings for ENERGY STAR heating and cooling equipment.
The heating & cooling system is one of the most costly aspects of your home, so its important to devote some time to pick the right company. Here’s some tips to get you started.
- Figure out what the license and insurance requirements for contractors are in your state.
- Know the model of your current system and its maintenance history.
- Make note of any uncomfortably hot or cold rooms.
Ask for referrals:
- Ask friends, neighbors, and co-workers for contractor referrals.
- Contact local trade organizations for names of members in your area.
- Ask contractors for customer references and call them.
- How was the contractor’s installation or service performance?
- Was the job was completed on time and within budget?
Look for special offers:
- Check around for available rebates on energy-efficient ENERGY STAR qualified heating and cooling equipment.
Average high temperature: 65
Average low temperature: 47
Highest High: 81
Lowest Low: 31
Precipitation: 2.1 in
February 2014 had 15 days with lower than average high temperatures There were 18 days with below average low temps. Precipitation was 1.11 inches below normal. The record low for Houston in February was 14 degrees set in 1951.
Average high temperature: 69
Average low temperature: 51
Highest High: 84
Lowest Low: 28
Precipitation: 2.54 in.
March 2014 had 18 days with below average high temperatures. There were 22 days with below average low temps. Precipitation was 0.66 inches below normal. The record high for March was 96 degrees in 1946.
In the old days, cooling was done by saving big blocks of ice. When cooling machines were first used, their capacity was rated by the equivalent amount of ice that would melt in a day, which is where the term “ton” came from in sizing air conditioning.
Today, a ton of cooling is defined as delivering 12,000 BTU/hour of cooling. BTU is short for British Thermal Unit. The BTU is a unit of heating – or in this case, cooling – energy. A window air conditioner is usually less than one ton. A small home central air conditioner would be about two tons and a large one about five tons.
Few routine chores and maintenance follow-ups will pay off better in comfort and in dollars saved than getting your air-conditioner cleaned. The payoff results in summertime comfort and lower cooling bills. You will also prolong the life of your air conditioner, getting the most of the system.
The most important maintenance steps are fairly simple for a pro, but the DIY will need about a half day to carefully work through the steps. If you’re not up to the task, call a professional.
- Check for low refrigerant levels
- Replace or clean filters
- Remove the drain line and clean it
- Clear the buildup on the blower fan
- Remove the dust from the evaporator coil
A professional will have access to the proper equipment to make sure the critical parts of your air conditioner system are thoroughly cleaned without causing any damage to its parts.