Ten Time-Proven Tips For Selecting A Dealer
- Check credentials. Before making your selection, call the Better Business Bureau to make sure the dealer is reputable. Also, find out if the dealer is a member of a local or national association such as the Air Conditioning Contractors Association of America.
- Make sure the dealer is affiliated with a nationally known manufacturer. Dealers should be taking advantage of factory training offered by their manufacturer. As a result, when they make recommendations, you can be more assured that they’ve selected the right size system for your home, and that they’ve been trained in installation and service.
- Ask for references. Former customers are an excellent source of information. Also, ask to see installation photos. A dealer that is proud of their work will be more than happy to show it to you.
- Expect an on-site evaluation of your home. A good dealer will take a thorough look at your home, ask questions and evaluate your overall comfort needs before making a recommendation. Beware of a dealer that simply takes information over the phone. A good dealer will also look the part. While he’s evaluating your home, you should be evaluating him. Not only should he dress professionally, but his truck and printed materials should look professional as well.
- Check local licenses. Depending on where you live, dealers may have to comply with certain local or state regulations, so ask to see proof of these licenses as well as insurance forms for liability and workmen’s compensation.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask for details about the firm’s experience and the expertise of its staff. This is particularly important if you’re also adding or changing ductwork – in this case, experience is definitely a factor in getting the job done correctly.
- Get a written proposal. To make a fair comparison, make sure the proposals you receive are all based on the same efficiency and equipment. You’ll also want to evaluate each dealer’s personal business standards and policies. For example, will he remove old equipment? Will he relocate equipment if you want your new system installed in a different location? What are his clean up and care policies during installation? How will he handle emergency repair? These are just a few of the additional elements a good proposal will include.
- Inquire about equipment and labor warranties. Limited warranties vary according to the manufacturer, so make sure you fully understand what you’re getting. Also, don’t forget to inquire about manufacturer’s extended warranties at the time of purchase and other warranties provided by the dealer.
- Ask about preventive maintenance service contracts. Many dealers offer service contracts that call for periodic maintenance of equipment, and if needed repairs. The fee for such contracts is usually well worth it in terms of obtaining optimum efficiency and performance for your system.
- Finally insist on a written contract. Commit your agreement to writing and have the dealer sign it.
Energy Saving Tips
If your heating and cooling system is over 10 years old, you're probably cheating yourself out of energy and money. You could be paying 30-50% more in utility costs than you should be. We can help you lower those bills and make you more comfortable at the same time. Heating and cooling your home uses more energy dollars than any other system in your home. Typically, 44% of your utility bill goes for heating and cooling. You can save money and increase comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment.
An energy-efficient furnace or air conditioner alone won't have as great an impact on your energy bills as using the whole house approach. By combining proper equipment, upgrades and maintenance with appropriate thermostat settings, insulation and weatherization, you can cut your energy bills in half.
- Set your thermostat as low as it is comfortable.
- Clean or replace your filters once a month.
- Clean registers as needed and make sure they're not blocked by furniture or carpeting.
- Use household fans wisely. Turn them off as soon as they've done their job.
- Keep drapes and shades open on south-facing windows during the heating season to allow sunlight to enter your home. Close them at night to reduce the chill.
- Close an unoccupied room and turn down the thermostat or zone to that room.
- Set your thermostat as high as it is comfortable.
- Clean or replace your filters once a month.
- Set the fan speed on high except in very humid weather. When it's humid, set the fan speed on low.
- Use ceiling fans to spread the cooled air more effectively.
- Don't place TVs or electrical appliances that generate heat near your thermostats.
- Plant trees or shrubs to shade air conditioning units but don't block the airflow.
AFUE – Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. A measure of a gas furnace’s efficiency in converting fuel to energy – the higher the rating, the more efficient the unit. For example: A rating of 90 means that approximately 90 percent of the fuel is used to provide warmth to your home, while the remaining 10 percent escapes as exhaust.
BTU – British Thermal Unit. This is the amount of heat it takes to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. For your home, it represents the measure of heat given off when fuel is burned for heating or the measure of heat extracted from your home for cooling.
CFM – Cubic Feet Per Minute. A standard measurement of airflow. A typical system requires 400 CFM per ton of air conditioning.
Capacity – The output or producing ability of a piece of cooling or heating equipment. Cooling and heating capacities are referred to on BTUs.
Comfort-R™ Airflow System – An exclusive feature of a high efficiency home comfort system from American Standard. This method of ramping airflow gives you greater humidity control in cooling and provides warmer air during heating start up.
Compressor – The heart of an air conditioning or heat pump system. It is part of the outdoor unit and pumps refrigerant in order to meet the cooling requirements of the system.
Condensor Coil or Outdoor Coil – In an air conditioner, the coil dissipates heat from the refrigerant, changing the refrigerant from vapor to liquid. In a heat pump system, it absorbs heat from the outdoors.
Damper – Found in ductwork, this movable plate opens and closes to control airflow. Dampers can be used to balance airflow in a duct system. They are also used in zoning to regulate airflow to certain rooms.
Ductwork – Pipes or channels that carry air throughout your home. In a home comfort system, ductwork is critical to performance – in fact, it’s as critical as the equipment.
Evaporator Coil or Indoor Coil – The other half of your air conditioning system located inside your home in the indoor unit. This is where the refrigerant evaporates as it absorbs heat from the air that passes over the coil.
Gas Furnace Heat Exchanger – Located in the furnace, the heat exchanger transfers heat to the surrounding air, which is then pumped throughout your home.
HSPF – Heating Seasonal Performance Factor. This rating is used in measuring the heating efficiency of a heat pump. The higher the number, the more efficient the unit.
Package Unit – A heating and cooling system contained in one outdoor unit. A package unit is typically installed either beside, on top of the home, or sometimes in the attic.
Refrigerant – A chemical that produces a refrigerating effect while expanding and vaporizing. Most residential air conditioning systems contain R-22 refrigerant. R-22 is regulated by international controls under the Montreal Protocol and in the United States by the Environmental Protection Agency. It is scheduled to be in production until the year 2020. It's used in approximately 95 percent of air conditioning equipment manufactured in the U.S. today.
SEER – Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. A measure of cooling efficiency for air conditioners and heat pumps. The higher the seer, the more energy efficient the unit. The government's minimum SEER rating is 10. (It’s similar to comparing miles per gallon in automobiles.)
SEET – Seasonal Extreme Environmental Test Lab. This is American Standard’s torture chamber for heating and air conditioning systems, where five years of service are condensed into 16 torturous weeks. If a product doesn’t make it through our SEET lab, it’s not manufactured. We push our equipment to extremes because we’d rather test them in our lab than in your home.
Split System – The combination of an outdoor unit (air conditioner or heat pump) with an indoor unit (furnace or air handler). Split systems must be matched for optimum efficiency.
Thermostat – A thermostat consists of a series of sensors and relays that monitor and control the functions of a heating and cooling system.
Ton – A unit of measurement used for determining cooling capacity. One ton is the equivalent of 12,000 BTUs per hour.
Zoning – A method of dividing a home into different comfort zones so each zone can be independently controlled depending on use and need.