Getting a good deal on heating and cooling equipment for your home is all about the timing. If it’s the middle of a heatwave or a freeze and your equipment breaks down, you’re more likely to take what you can get, when you can get it. But if you’re able to anticipate the need, your options grow exponentially. Here are a few tips that should make it easier to determine when and where to buy your equipment.
When to Buy
Two of the best times to shop for new or replacement HVAC equipment are late spring and early summer. Summer, fall and winter are typically busy seasons for heating and cooling companies. But a month or two after tax season we usually experience a lull in our work-load, and most of us tend to run our best specials during this time to keep our people busy.
When things heat up in the summer, prices generally go up and crews fill up. Just getting estimates from a few good companies can be a challenge. The same thing occurs in winter due to the cold, and things get especially expensive if we have a ‘freeze’ for any length of time. A ‘freeze’ to us in the HVAC and plumbing business is basically anytime the temperature stays below freezing during the daytime for more than 3 or 4 days; not just overnight. Fall can be a busy time too. Vacations are over, the kids are back at school and winter is on the way. Folks turn their attention to home heating, and want to get ready with both replacements and maintenances.
If you’ve been thinking about adding air-conditioning to your existing central air, or upgrading your all-electric heating with a new Ductless System, providing both heating and cooling, this is a great time to have your situation looked at. If you don’t have an HVAC company you already work with and/or you would like a second opinion, design and pricing; be sure to research them and choose carefully.
Choosing a Contractor
We always recommend several steps be taken when choosing any contractor for your home or business…
Check Licenses and Credentials with the State
In Washington, Labor and Industries makes it very simple to go online to verify a company is properly licensed and insured. Checking the Better Business Bureau is also good, but realize that a good/great rating with them may simply mean that the company answers their complaints promptly. Be sure to take the time to read the posted issues and unresolved issues.
Check their Location and time in business
A great economy like ours tends to attract companies that are not local, and/or are brand new start-ups. A tactic that is often employed by larger or new companies is to buy a small local company that has been around for many years. Once they own it they can technically advertise they have been in business for all those years. If you stick with local people and companies that have been working in their field and in this area for at least 5 years, it will automatically save you a lot of headaches when it comes to service and warranty issues with your project and equipment.
Check for good, REAL referrals
With the advent of the Internet, it’s easy to go online for a half-hour, read a bunch of reviews and think you have a ‘feel’ for a person or company. Just remember, anyone can write and post a comment/review; a good or bad one. There is no substitute for a personal ‘Word Of Mouth’ referral from someone you know; family, or work, school, church, realtor or property manager, and/or a name of a customer offered by the company you are considering that you are free to write to or call yourself. Online reviews are normally sorted and ‘graded’ by mathematical algorithms and are not vetted in any reliable, personal way. Keep that in mind when considering them.
Check Pricing for a good Value
There are lots of ‘old sayings’ about what things cost;
- The cheapest price rarely buys the Best Value…
- There is no such thing as a free lunch…
- The pain of poor quality lasts far longer than the excitement of the cheapest price…
These and many more ‘old sayings’ exist because they are basically true. Pricing needs to be a consideration, but it isn’t the most important thing on these kinds of projects. Generally, the price range for a good company is somewhere in the medium to medium-high range; with the value and warranty being excellent. A couple of reasonable things to look for in pricing include…
- Good Terms of Payments that fit your situation and exposure.
- Reasonable discounts for real considerations… things like a somewhat flexible time-table, paying down payments, progress payments and final balance in cash, and/or agreeing to a larger volume of business with things like future work, and/or agreeing to a Maintenance Contract are things your contractor should value and should grant you discounts for; don’t be afraid to ask!
Buying heating and cooling equipment is a big deal. Determining when to buy and who to buy from are the processes you should become familiar with, to ensure you get the best deal possible.