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8 tips for hiring a heating and cooling contractor:

  1. 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. 
  2. Look for a contractor who employs technicians certified by NATE (North American Technician Excellence), the leading industry-supported testing and certification program. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 
  5. Look for ENERGY STAR® qualified products at, which must meet strict energy-efficiency guidelines and can offer significant long-term energy savings. 
  6. Find special offers. Ask your local electric cooperative and the contractor about rebates on energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment. 
  7. Get written, itemized estimates. When comparing bids, consider warranties and the disposal of old equipment. 
  8. Sign a written proposal with the contractor before work gets started. The document should specify project cost, model numbers, installation schedule and warranty.

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