Summer is still a couple months away, but Texans have come to learn that the sweltering heat will be here sooner than that. In preparation, Better Business Bureau serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin suggests homeowners and businesses get their air conditioning (AC) units checked by a trustworthy professional to make sure it’s in good working order.
Don’t get burned by hiring the wrong service company. Nationally, BBB received nearly 1,000 complaints against residential air conditioning service companies in 2013. Complaints against AC service contractors often allege problems with the final price or payment process, as well as complaints that the service was ineffective.
If you’re due for an upgrade, spending a little money on improvements can save you a lot over time. Air sealing is one of the quickest ways to cut your heating and cooling costs. Also, you can visit the Energy Saver website for DIY Savings Projects that provide step-by-step instructions on how to weatherstrip your windows and seal air leaks with caulk.
There is a growing industry of professionals who are qualified to make recommendations to homeowners on how to improve the overall energy efficiency of their homes. Energy assessors will do a comprehensive energy audit of your whole house using special tools to measure home energy efficiency. Be sure to use a certified energy auditor.
According to Energy.gov, turning your thermostat back from its normal setting by seven to 10 degrees for eight hours a day can save you as much as 10 percent a year on heating and cooling costs. Small changes have big results. Another way to save is by simply using a programmable thermostat and keeping your house warmer than normal when you are away.
BBB offers this advice when hiring a trustworthy air conditioning contractor:
Consult your owner’s manual. Before doing anything, check the warranty on your current air conditioning unit to determine whether any tune-ups, repairs or replacements may be covered.
Hire a professional to maintain your heating and cooling system. Arrange for annual maintenance with a qualified technician. This includes checking the airflow over the coil, testing for the correct fluid (refrigerant) level, checking the combustion process and ensuring proper air-flow to each room.
Research the company. Visit bbb.org for the BBB Business Review of any air conditioning service or energy auditor you plan to hire to learn details about the company, like its history of complaints. Visit checkbbb.org for a list of Accredited Businesses.
Check Licensing. The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation requires a license for heating, ventilation and air conditioning technicians and electricians. Ask to see a copy of the license before work starts.
Compare prices. Get at least three estimates in writing. All bids should provide a full description of the services provided and the materials used.