Q. Should I repair or replace my current HVAC system?
A. While many of the “costs” associated with your current comfort system may be intangible (reliability problems, uneven temperatures, excessive noise, lack of comfort, etc.), some homeowner’s may focus more on the hard costs associated with repair vs. replacement.
Here are some often overlooked items to consider:
- Furnaces lose approximately 1% of their efficiency for every year of operation. So if your 15 year old furnace was 80% efficient when it was installed, it may only be 65% efficient now. Furnaces over 15 – 20 years old were typically only 65% – 75% efficient when they were installed.
- Most air conditioners and heat pumps installed before January, 2006 cost up to 20% more to operate than today’s LOWEST efficiency models. Purchasing a higher efficiency model can generate even greater energy savings.
- The cost of repair today may not be your only repair cost in the near future. Often, as comfort systems age, you’ll find yourself making multiple repairs in a short period of time to address component failures. When deciding whether to repair or replace, use the cost to FULLY RESTORE your comfort system along with likely future repairs, as your basis for comparison, not just the cost of today’s required repair.
Q. Does the contractor I choose really make a difference?
A. According to leading consumer and trade magazines, the US Department of Energy, PSE and PUD, the heating and cooling contractor you choose does make a difference. The same equipment can be installed in the same home by two different contractors, and there can be a difference in comfort, equipment efficiency, and overall life.
Q. How should I choose a heating and cooling contractor?
A. Look for contractors that are N.A.T.E. certified, and factory trained and certified. They should do a Manual J heat load analysis to properly size any new equipment. Make sure they are licensed, bonded and insured, and ask for proof of this. Be sure they permit all applicable work. Check their record with the state Attorney General’s office, Better Business Bureau and referral services like Angie’s List. Lastly, seek referrals from friends, family and neighbors with similar values and needs. If they’ve been happy, odds are that you’ll be happy.
Q. Do I really need a permit to install my new comfort system?
A. Yes. Not only are they required by law, but a permit also allows for third-party inspection of your new system. This ensures that your system meets all local code requirements, and will operate safely.
Q. How do I know what size unit our house needs?
A. According to the Department of Energy, Puget Sound Energy, PUD, and industry standards, the only way to properly size a home heating or cooling system is to complete a Manual J heat load analysis. This takes into account many factors such as size and structure of the house, climate, air infiltration, the number and type of windows installed, insulation, appliances, and even the number of people living in the house.
Q. What do equipment rating numbers mean?
A. The U.S. government requires an efficiency rating of all air conditioning and heating equipment. The rating reflects the percentage of energy used efficiently, with higher ratings indicating higher-efficiency.