How to Choose the Best Heating and Cooling Company
Whether it’s the unbearable summer heat or the frigid winter chill, your home’s heating and cooling system is essential for your family’s comfort. According to the Residential Energy Survey, almost 90% of U.S. households have some sort of air conditioning to keep them cool when the weather gets hot.
With such an important job to do, finding the right contractor to keep your equipment running is crucial. You want to find someone who can provide quality, lasting work without breaking the bank. So, how do you choose the best heating and cooling company? Here are a few tips.
The first step to finding the best heating and cooling company is to simply look around. Many leading HVAC contractors buy TV advertisements or billboards to promote their services, and it’s not uncommon to see company trucks and vans running all over town. If you recognize the name, there’s a good chance it’s a reputable contractor.
Although this method isn’t foolproof, heating and cooling companies with high name recognition typically got to that point by offering great service and growing their brand. At the very least, you know they’ve performed enough jobs to be able to afford all that advertising!
It’s still a good idea to go through a few other verification methods before choosing a contractor, even if their name is widely known around town. This is a good first step of the journey.
Ask Friends and Neighbors
Another way to build your list of contractors is to ask friends, family, and neighbors. See which companies other people have used in the past and whether they liked the service.
You trust your friends, family, and neighbors; they’re much more reliable than any random review on the internet. They can give you deeper insight into what they liked about an HVAC contractor and what they didn’t. Talk to several people in your area to see which company they recommend.
When asking around, just make sure you ask people in your area. Your friends and family living across the country won’t be a great source of information when it comes to finding the best heating and cooling company. You don’t want to pay all that travel expense!
Go Through the Company’s Website
Websites are a great source of information when it comes to finding the best heating and cooling company. Before landing on a contractor, be sure to take a thorough dive through their website.
A website says a lot about a business. If it’s cluttered and uninformative, you know they don’t care to spend many resources on their image or informing their customers. Either way, that’s not the kind of thinking that makes a company the “best.” However, if the company’s website looks great, is full of information, and easy to read and navigate, you know they care about what they do.
A company’s website is the face of the business. If they don’t care to take the time to make it look good (or worse, not make one at all), they likely won’t be the best company for the job.
Check Online Reviews
While your friend and family recommendations mean more than any single online review, it’s hard to compete with hundreds or even thousands! Reading online reviews is a great way to get a feel for how a heating and cooling company is perceived by their customers.
You can find reviews scattered all over the internet. Here are some of the most popular websites for reputable reviews:
- Google My Business
- Better Business Bureau (BBB)
- Angie (formerly Angie’s List)
When looking through online reviews, there are two things to keep in mind: quantity and quality. Yes, the star count matters. If a company has five stars on multiple platforms, they very well might be the best heating and cooling company you’re looking for. But, if they have a five-star rating with only three reviews, you might want to take it with a grain of salt.
Look for a company that has hundreds, if not thousands, of reviews. The more reviews, the more reliable the information.
Read through a few of the reviews to get an idea of what the company does well and any potential shortcomings. But remember, this is the internet. Not all reviews are completely reliable. Read a good mixture of positive and negative reviews to get a general feel for the company’s work, and don’t believe everything you read!
The Best Heating and Cooling Companies Are Licensed
HVAC contractors work with complicated parts of your home. Depending on the job, they might need to alter plumbing, electric, or gas lines. When someone touches such critical parts of your home, you want to make sure they know what they’re doing.
No matter what other steps you take finding the best heating and cooling company, make sure the contractor is properly licensed to work in your area. Many states and counties require contractors to have a certain amount of experience and pass background certifications to earn their licenses. This ensures the contractor knows what they’re doing and that all work will be performed safely in accordance with standard regulations.
Most HVAC companies proudly display their licensing and certifications on their website. If you can’t find anything on the website (or sometimes even if you can), it never hurts to ask a contractor directly for proof of their licensing.
If a company isn’t licensed, they’re not the best for the job. It’s as simple as that!
Ask for References (and Check Them)
Think of searching for the best heating and cooling company as a job interview. You’re the hiring manager looking to find the right candidate for the job. Like any good employer, it’s a good idea to ask for references.
When vetting a contractor, ask for at least three references. Then, contact the references and ask them questions about the services provided:
- Was the job completed on time?
- Did the project stay within budget?
- Did the contractor respect your home and keep a clean work environment?
- Would you recommend the contractor?
This list is by no means exhaustive. Ask as many questions as you’d like until you feel confident about the level of service.
Do They Offer Energy-Efficient Products?
Your heating and cooling system is the biggest consumer of energy in your house. It’s estimated that your HVAC system uses 47% of your home’s energy use. That’s why it’s important to find a heating and cooling company that offers energy-efficient products. Not only is it better for the environment, but it’ll also help you cut down your utility bills.
Before hiring a contractor, ask if they offer products that have ENERGY STAR ratings. All ENERGY STAR models go through rigorous testing to ensure they meet all the government guidelines for energy efficiency.
But just having ENERGY STAR equipment isn’t enough. It also needs to be installed correctly to provide you with all the energy savings. According to ENERGY STAR, almost half of all HVAC systems are installed incorrectly! Ask heating and cooling companies if they follow ENERGY STAR Verified HVAC Installation (ESVI) practices to make sure your system will give you all the energy savings you deserve.
Are There Any Rebates, Warranties, or Guarantees?
Everyone likes perks. They can help you save money or give you peace of mind that the work you paid for will stand the test of time. When you’re looking for the best heating and cooling company, ask if they offer any rebates, warranties, or guarantees.
Rebates are a great way to save money on your heating and cooling costs. They can come from your utility provider, the manufacturer, or from the HVAC contractor themselves. Once the work is finished, you can send in the rebate to get some money back on the project.
There’s nothing worse than paying for an HVAC repair or installation only to have the system break down within a month or two. That’s where warranties and guarantees come in. They protect you if something goes wrong.
Warranties are typically provided by the manufacturer. They cover things like equipment defects or sometimes even breakdowns. Guarantees usually come from the HVAC company. They cover any work-related issues. For example, if your HVAC system stops working because a part was installed incorrectly, they might come out and fix the problem free of charge.
Always ask HVAC companies about any rebates, warranties, or guarantees they offer. It could help you save some money and will ensure you don’t have to worry about more expensive repairs down the road.
Ask the Right Questions
Choosing the best heating and cooling company takes some vetting. Before hiring anyone, be sure to ask them plenty of questions to get a feel for the quality and scope of work they provide. Here are just a few important questions to ask any HVAC contractor:
- Can I see a copy of your HVAC contractor’s license?
- What level of liability insurance do you carry?
- What’s included in the project quote?
- When can you start work, and how long will the project take?
- How long have you been in business?
- What brands do you carry?
- Do you offer any warranties or guarantees on the work?
How the contractor answers these questions will give you important insight into whether they’re able to give you the level of service you’re looking for. There are plenty of HVAC companies out there, so if one doesn’t answer any of these questions to your liking, move on to the next one.
Get In-Person, Written Estimates
Many factors go into creating an HVAC estimate, and some of those factors require an in-person look at your property. For example, a contractor might not know the right unit to install if they don’t first look at the type of windows you have in your home or how the ductwork is installed.
While over-the-phone quotes are great for giving you a general idea of what the project will cost, in-person estimates are much more reliable. That way, the contractor can look over your entire home to ensure they can consider all the factors and provide you with a much more accurate quote.
It’s also important to get the estimate in writing. Leaving your estimate to a simple handshake or phone call leaves too much uncertainty. In a worst-case scenario, the contractor might finish the project and leave you with a much higher bill than anticipated. If you don’t have a physical piece of paper proving they went over the budget, it’s just their word against yours, and you’re going to end up paying more. Plus, it’s nice to be able to look over the estimate line by line to make sure there aren’t any surprise charges.
Essentially, a written estimate is undeniable, legal proof should a dispute arise. It’s a good way to cover your back, just in case.
If a contractor won’t provide a written estimate, it could be an indicator that they’re either inexperienced or cutting corners to save money. Either way, they likely aren’t the best heating and cooling company for the job.
The Best Heating and Cooling Company Won’t Have the Lowest Quote
Part of finding the best heating and cooling company is trying to find the best price. But when it comes to home improvement contractors, the best price isn’t always (ever) the lowest.
In the world of home improvement, you get what you pay for. If you find the company with the lowest prices, there’s a good chance you’re also going to get the lowest quality work. You might save some money up front, but it’s going to cost you more in the long run to fix all the mistakes.
As you compile your list of quotes from multiple vendors, immediately throw out the lowest bid—if not the lowest two or three, depending on how many you collect. The best HVAC company will likely be somewhere in the middle. The goal is to find that perfect mix of quality and affordability.
Find the Best Heating and Cooling Company for Your Needs
Completing home projects isn’t always easy, especially when it comes to finding the right contractor for your needs. That’s why Renovators Blog is here to help! We have everything you need to turn your home from just a living space to your dream property.
Whether you want to remodel your bathroom or swap out that old AC unit, you can find inspiration and advice right on our blog! Tell us about your project, and we’ll even help you find the best heating and cooling company to get the job done right. Transform your home into a space you love with Renovators Blog.