8 tips for hiring a heating and cooling contractor:
- Be prepared. Find out about license and insurance requirements for contractors in your area. Before you call a contractor, know the model of your current heating and cooling system, as well as its maintenance history.
- Look for a contractor who employs technicians certified by NATE (North American Technician Excellence), the leading industry-supported testing and certification program.
- Call references. Ask each contractor for customer references, and call them. Ask about the contractor’s installation performance – and if the job was completed on time and within budget.
- Expect a home evaluation. The contractor should spend significant time inspecting your current system and home to assess your needs. A bigger system isn’t always better; a contractor should size the heating and cooling system based on criteria such as the square footage of your house, level of insulation, duct system and total window area.
- Look for ENERGY STAR® qualified products at www.energystar.gov, which must meet strict energy-efficiency guidelines and can offer significant long-term energy savings.
- Find special offers. Ask your local electric cooperative and the contractor about rebates on energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment.
- Get written, itemized estimates. When comparing bids, consider warranties and the disposal of old equipment.
- Sign a written proposal with the contractor before work gets started. The document should specify project cost, model numbers, installation schedule and warranty.