When you need air conditioning, heating, or other HVAC services in Northwest Arkansas, it can be tough to choose the best HVAC contractor for your needs. You want skilled HVAC technicians who can do a good job on your heating and cooling systems. You want an HVAC contractor with integrity. And you want good value, an energy efficient system, and confidence that you’re getting the right system for your needs at a fair price.
How can you tell? Heating and air conditioning repair and installation aren’t topics that most of us think about a lot. We don’t learn about these things in school. So it can be difficult to judge whether you can trust the company that gives you the lowest bid — or even the company that gives you the highest bid.
Here’s a checklist of things to look for when you’re interviewing HVAC companies:
- Choose a contractor with a solid track record. New companies may be able to do a good job, but a company like Air Dynamics with decades of experience and plenty of great references is a safer choice.
- Ask about credentials. Your contractor should be able to share their licenses and credentials and to tell you want kind of training and experience technicians have had.
- Make sure your contractor does a load calculation for your home. Even if you’ve had this done before, there may be changes. You (or just time) might have made changes that increase your home’s efficiency or increase your needs. If your contractor just estimates based on square footage or rules of thumb, you can’t be confident that you’re getting the right system for your needs.
- Your HVAC technician should be able to answer your questions about heating, cooling, and ductwork. At Air Dynamics, we also make a point of asking you questions and listening to you. Diagnosing the cause of a problem you’re experiencing is an important part of the discussion about whether you need a repair or a new system.
- Every home or place of business is different, so your HVAC contractor shouldn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution in mind before you describe your needs. If you call for HVAC service and get a salesman rather than a technician, you may have someone who wants to sell you a new system even if that’s not what you need.
- You should get full information on how to maintain your system, including information about pre-season maintenance or maintenance packages available.
- Your contractor and technicians should be courteous and professional in behavior, and you should not have to clean up after them. That should go without saying… but sometimes it doesn’t.
- Look for expert knowledge. Your contractor should be able to tell you about different options, including heat pumps and central heating. If you don’t know what kind of system you currently have (gas or electric, for example), the technician visiting your home should be able to determine that for you. Be sure to let the HVAC professionals you’re talking with know whether you have pets, and tell them about any work you’ve had done on your heater before. If a technician isn’t interested in this information, they may not be as expert as you’d like.
- Can your technician give you an idea about the savings you can expect from a more energy-efficient system? Does your contractor know about the tax credits and subsidies available in Northwest Arkansas? This is information you need to make sure you get the best value, and your HVAC expert should have that information.
- Look for an HSPF (Heat Seasonal Performance Factor) rating of 8 or more for a heat pump. 7.7 is the minimum, and it may be fine for your needs. Gas filters are gauged by their AFUE (Average Fuel Utilization Efficiency). This is a less common or well-known rating system. It’s expressed in percentages.
- For air conditioning, you have the option of choosing central air, a heat pump which takes care of both heating and cooling, or split ductless systems. If you need a repair for a current system, you just need to know that your HVAC technician can repair the type of system you have. If you’re considering a new or upgraded system, you should be able to get a clear comparison of all three types from your technician.
- Air conditioning systems should have a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) of 13 or better.
- Your HVAC tech should be certified to work with refrigerant.
Want to know more? Here are some resources:
- EnergyStar guide to energy-efficient heating and cooling
- Energy-efficient HVAC for small business
- Indoor Air Quality
- HVAC 101: The Basics
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