When it is time to get a new HVAC system, it is best to ask for an estimate or quote from a contractor to give you an idea of how much it will cost to replace your system. Be sure to ask about specials or rebates that might help offset the cost, but know that those are more abundant in the spring and the fall. A scheduled maintenance contract like the Peace of Mind Protection Plan can also potentially shave off some dollars off the cost of replacing equipment, too, so be sure to ask about those options.  Recently, we’ve seen a few HVAC quotes from other contractors that were puzzling to us and our customers. We hope the following tips will help you ask the right questions, so you know what you are buying and can make an informed choice.

Look for equipment model numbers and SEER ratings.

One of our customers showed us a quote she had received from a different air conditioning contractor in West Houston, and it lacked basic details that anyone would want to know. It simply stated they would replace their air conditioner with a SEER 16 model. There was no brand name and no model numbers. You should always expect to receive the brand name, model numbers, and SEER rating, which is a rating of how efficient the equipment is, on any quote you receive.  You can use this information to look up the equipment on the manufacturer’s website to read more about it. You can determine really quickly if you are getting the manufacturer’s value line, their top-rated equipment, or something right in the middle. As with cars, there’s a wide variability in similarly-rated equipment and you should know what you’re buying. If someone isn’t telling you, it’s likely you are getting the least expensive, lowest-quality system.

Capitalize on efficiencies of matched systems.

Manufacturers of air conditioning and heating equipment design the component parts of their system to work together for the highest efficiency and longevity. This is not to say that this is the solution for every situation; however, when possible, we often recommend that someone replace all of the equipment at the same time.  There are differences among similarly-rated equipment that is equivalent to the trim level when buying a car. For one SEER-rated system, I can choose from two different air handlers, two types of gas furnaces, and six different outdoor condensing units for one brand!  There are different bells and whistles which are generally more safety features and energy efficiency features that distinguish them from each other. A good HVAC contractor can help you run the numbers and determine if the benefits of a matched system might outweigh just replacing one part of it. Today’s newest variable-speed systems have a higher upfront cost, but often result in enough energy savings that the new system pays for itself outright over time. You often do not need the top of the line system to realize this savings, either.

Do a bit of research.

Bottomline, you don’t need to know all the technical details to arm yourself with enough knowledge to learn the basics of the type of equipment and the brand you are purchasing. Whether you have been one of our customers or go with someone different, the HVAC technician you choose should be able to answer your questions, describe differences among the equipment and why they recommend the specific equipment for your situation. Consumer Reports is one source of third-party reviews for central air conditioning and heating equipment. The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, an independent trade association, which sets industry standards for HVACR equipment and independently tests equipment is another resource. Energy Star, a program of the US Environmental Protection Agency, is also a good spot to research HVAC equipment and energy-efficiency. Factory-authorized dealers for any brand including Carrier means that the dealer often has superior training and technical assistance at their disposal, too.

Need a Second Opinion?

If you need a second opinion to replace your heat pump or central air conditioner, you can count on a detailed quote from Rob and Kenny at Terry’s A/C and Heating. Contrary to some of our competitors, we believe that a customer should know what they are buying — whether it’s equivalent to a Buick, Toyota or a Mercedes. Call us at 281-495-7830 to discuss your air conditioning or heating needs. We’d be honored to earn your business. We serve the Southwest side of Houston and surrounding communities of Katy, Richmond, Missouri City, Sugar Land and points nearby.