How to get a great deal on your next HVAC system

I recently had to update my heating and cooling system in my house. I had worried for a while about how much it was going to cost me because I didn’t have a ton of money set aside for replacing the HVAC system. When you’re a homeowner, there’s always something going wrong in some part of your house. Whether you need to replace part of the roof, get a new appliance, or have a section of carpeting replaced, there is always something! I’ve learned that over the past few years and the most recent problem that I ended up having was with my heating and cooling system. I noticed that the temperature on my thermostat just wasn’t being maintained at an even level and then I noticed that the furnace wasn’t working too great on cooler mornings. When I switched over to the air conditioning when the weather started heating up, the house didn’t cool off at all. That’s when I had the terrible realization that my HVAC system probably needed to be replaced. I knew that it was an older system when I moved in, but I was really hoping that it would last a couple more years than it actually did! Anyway, somehow I got lucky because when I called my local heating and cooling company, they were running an amazing deal on high efficiency HVAC systems. I ended up with a great unit that keeps my home at just the right temperature, year round. I even got a great warranty with it, so next time it tears up, I won’t have to worry! 

A hotel air conditioner

Last December, my wife, kids and I took a ten-day vacation. We left behind the freezing cold weather and snow for a tropical getaway during the Christmas holidays. I booked us a hotel that put us just walking distance from the beach. The plan was to spend the majority of our time outside, enjoying the sunshine, white sand beach and ocean waves. Due to the premier location, even the most basic hotel was really expensive. The hotel didn’t offer a lot of amenities. We went without laundry facilities, a fitness room, restaurant and swimming pool. The wifi was slow and unpredictable and the television provided only a couple of local stations.

We were just relieved that there was a working air conditioner installed in the room. The cooling unit was obviously an older model and not in the greatest condition. It was dented on the side, missing some control knobs and often dripped condensate onto the floor. Whenever it cycled on, it made this horrendous screeching sound and rattled the whole time it operated. Despite all these problems, the air conditioner easily cooled down the room and maintained a comfortable temperature.

We were only able to adjust the system between high and low speed. We mostly ran the central air conditioner at maximum capacity. It was such a pleasure to step inside that cool hotel room after a day at the beach, baking in the sun. We were able to get a good night’s sleep and wake up refreshed and ready to start another beautiful day.

Uncomfortable temperature control

I work in a newly built office building situated right in the downtown area. The construction features a great deal of glass and the design is ultra modern. I am fortunate enough to have a corner office on the eighth floor and the view is really amazing. Unfortunately, none of the windows open, and there’s no opportunity to bring any fresh air into the building. Although the glass is tinted to deflect UV rays, the weather still affects the indoor temperature. In the winter, the glass is cold and makes the room feel quite chilly. I have the opposite complaint during the summer. The whole building is sealed up tight and entirely temperature controlled all year round. It is a problem that the thermostat is not on the premises. No one on location has the ability to make any adjustments. The operation of the HVAC system is entirely determined by the corporate headquarters. The headquarters are located on the opposite side of the country. Rather than catering to our very unpredictable weather, the temperature is regulated according to dates on the calendar. At a predetermined day of the year, the air conditioner starts up and blows cool air non stop for several months. Whether the outdoor conditions are hot and humid or freezing cold, we deal with air conditioning. The building is often uncomfortably chilly, and we all dress up in sweaters. In the middle of July, many of the workers are wearing their coats indoors. As soon as the fall season arrives, the heating system switches on. Very often, the weather at this time of year is still hot and sticky. There’s no way to prevent the steady supply of heated air. The workforce is sweaty, sluggish and complaining. We plug in portable fans and get very little work accomplished. 

I’m worried about my heating and air conditioning

As a reporter, I often get sent to various places to report on the latest happenings. It’s a wonderful job, and I enjoy going to new places and meeting new people. My boss likes to have reliable contacts on the ground as soon as possible whenever there is breaking news that might be of national interest. 

I live in a sunny area, so I was in for a shock when I was sent to the northwest on assignment. Temperatures there hover around mid-twenties degrees. Sometimes it got so cold that I chose to remain indoors as soon as I accomplish my task.

So, when my HVAC malfunctioned, I panicked a bit because I was in a strange town with no air conditioner repair contact. Luckily, I found local listings online and contacted an HVAC business close by to recommend an HVAC provider that can send in a qualified HVAC technician fast. 

The technician came from a family-run air conditioning establishment owned by a woman. Her technician knew everything about how an air conditioner operates, and he quickly performed the heater repair. The business also stocked high-quality heating and cooling products from reputable brands. 

The technician noted that the equipment was aged and advised for regular air conditioner service, but that was not my place to decide. The furnace service also took a bit of time to sort since the furnace was an ancient relic. When he finished, he tried to up sell me some heater installation extra services, but I was a bit sad to let him down since I knew I was leaving soon.

HVAC maintenance helps you save on energy bills

When change is inevitable like the four seasons of the year, we have no option but to embrace it, otherwise, we are left behind. Speaking of weather changes, Autumn happens to be my favourite season of the year because I get the chance to dress down and go out more. My favourite dress-code is Short dresses or shorts with short-sleeved blouses. My parents built on the outskirts of town on farmland, so our neighbourhood has lots of trees and vast pieces of land. The transition period between the fall and winter is always my saddest moment in the cycle. As tree leaves change colour and plants and animals start adjusting for the season, days become shorter and the arrival of the cold season has me thinking of one thing – our air conditioning.

Before the cold kicks in completely, my dad always ensures that the air conditioner is properly serviced. He constantly monitors the condition of our heating and cooling system to detect and prevent unexpected breakdowns that might require an overhaul of the HVAC. Since we live outside of town, heater repair costs are much higher because there is only one HVAC business within a radius of 10 miles that serves over 50 households. New heater installation is not common here but repairs are. 

Several families do not also rely so much on the available HVAC provider with many homes using a home-made gas furnace that requires little furnace service although they still call on technicians for air conditioner repair just to be sure. I like how organized and prepared my dad is because whenever an HVAC technician arrives, there is little for him to do other than checking the safety of the equipment. With proper maintenance, our appliances retain energy and have a prolonged life that results in little demand for regular air conditioner service

Don’t even think about it – hire out your AC installation if you don’t have time to read an owner’s manual

When installing a cooling system it is best to call a licensed HVAC contractor to handle the job. There are complicated factors involved in the installation process. First, ductwork should be considered if you have it. The last thing you want to do is put a hole in your ductwork and have higher energy bills. 

Refrigerant in a system makes things tricky too. Adding improper amounts of refrigerant damage the system. You need someone who knows what they are doing. Also, handling refrigerant requires a license. Do you really want to study and be certified in that?

Another element of AC installation is the after care with it. After the AC is set up, it needs to be maintained over time. DIY AC installation always follows with big AC repairs quickly coming around. The last thing a homeowner wants to deal with is an immediate AC repair. Most HVAC businesses will put the system under a warranty and the repairs will be free! I say it is worth doing that!

Getting the expert’s opinion

When my husband and I bought our new home, we knew AC installation was the next step. After research online proved to be less than helpful, we choose to simply call our local AC business. The receptionist was amazing and knowledgeable. However, I proved to need even more help and scheduled a free consultation with the HVAC technician on staff. 

The HVAC contractor that came to our home was amazing. He went over what business practices his company stands by. He told us all about their 24 hour emergency service, maintenance plans and warranty coverage. He then took a lap around the house checking out what we could do AC wise. Since there were already existing ducts in the home, the technician campaigned for us to hook up a central air conditioning system to it. He said the installation would be easier, faster and less money because we had such a good starting frame. 

The guy then took measurements of our house to decide the right sizing on the AC unit. The guy explained that some companies pad up the numbers and sell people larger AC units. The technician makes more money but it is actually a detriment to the home. Larger AC systems power on and off rapidly due to how easy it is to achieve whole home temperature control. The powering on and off costs more than just keeping AC on at a steady stream. The house doesn’t feel as cold either. I was so relieved to hear this and know that we picked an honest company and a trustworthy HVAC expert to work with us!

Learning about my AC options

My husband and I bought our dream home, but sadly our dream came with no HVAC. Since the summer season was around the corner, the two of us really just wanted to get an air conditioner for now. After research proved to be just too overwhelming, I finally called up a local HVAC company for assistance. 

Calling the professionals for help was such a good idea! I expected to be put on hold for a long time with an automated voice telling me how important my call was. Instead I spoke to a friendly, live representative from the company. The woman on the phone was so sweet and knowledgeable. She asked if the house had existing ductwork and told me that I could hook a new central air conditioning system to that or just close off the vents and choose a ductless mini split. Which one is the better option?

The girl went further into detail the pros and cons of each system. I could get whole home temperature control with using central air conditioning. I already had the ductwork so the installation setup process will be quick. However, ductless mini splits mean that I can have zone control. Each room can have its own air handler and thermostat. I could set the rooms differently based on where the sun is or where I am in the house. Zone control saves energy and ups comfort! I was still wishy washy even after all that information. The woman was so great and transferred me to a HVAC contractor in order to learn even more. If you want to know what the HVAC contractor said, check out my next blog post titled, Getting the expert’s opinion.

Smart thermostats paired with ductless mini splits

If you have read my latest blog post, you know that I did a lot of research before getting my unit. Once I had a ductless mini split installed, I fell in love. I got a smart thermostat to go with my unit and I really enjoy that too. The smart thermostat makes this already wonderful device even more amazing. Any wifi operated product like an ipad, smartphone, or computer can hook up to the smart thermostat app. That means I can be in my office on the computer and alter the heating and cooling program on my mini split if I want. 

Since wifi is literally everywhere, I am able to go on vacation now and not worry about the HVAC. I can alter the settings from a beach resort, a swanky cafe or even in the rental car while on a trip. If the weather suddenly turns sweltering or cold, I can check out the indoor temperature and adjust accordingly. It is so nice and stress free doing this!

Another benefit of owning a smart thermostat is that my thermostat has learned what I like. Not only does it automatically sense when I am in the room and turn on, but the thermostat has learned my cooling behaviors in the summer. The thermostat knows when I want AC for working out and to power off when I am done. It has learned from my weekly adjustments. I hardly touch the device anymore. It even is saving me money by telling me energy efficient temperatures to set!

Ductwork, energy savings and your home

If your system has ductwork, have you thought about getting ductwork cleaning or sealing? Ductwork accounts for 30% of energy consumption. What happens when the ductwork has a tear along the seam or a hole in the middle of it? The home energy bills significantly go up. The HVAC system works longer, harder hours since the temperature controlled air is literally flying out the door. Trust me, you will know when your ductwork has a leak. The home won’t be the right temperature and the bills will be through the roof. Get a HVAC contractor to perform ductwork sealing. It is an easy, non invasive procedure that saves a homeowner a lot of money. In the end too, most HVAC companies offer a five year guarantee that their sealant will hold up or they will come back for free.

What about the ductwork sealing? Not only is dirty ductwork bad for the air quality, it is no good for the system either. Any part of the HVAC system with dust is sluggish, tired and more likely to produce inferior results. Every 5-7 years make it a point to clean out your air ducts.