How to Choose Between Quotes for Your New Air Conditioner
When you’re faced with replacing your air conditioner, it can be daunting. It seems there’s so much to know. Even when you have your standard three quotes from contractors, how do you know which one to pick? You may be tempted to simply choose the lowest bid, but don’t do it––at least until you’ve checked off our recommendations below.
At Ben’s Heating & Air Conditioning, we’ve given countless air conditioning quotes to homeowners just like you here in Portland, OR. We’ve offered the same advice to each of them. It’s important you choose the right contractor for you and your home.
- Be Sure You’re Comparing Apples to Apples
- Do Your Research Ahead of Time
- Compare After-Installation Services
- Do get those three quotes
- Use cheat sheets
When you’re collecting quotes, you want to be sure each quote is for the same type of system. Of course prices range; however, if you have one quote for a low-end system and another for a high-efficiency top-of-the-line model, the pricing is going to be worlds apart. They are completely different systems. In order to really compare, you need all your quotes to reflect the same type of system.
The same advice applies to companies. You can’t equally compare pricing and services from contractors who are a one-man shop, solely working out of a van to a larger HVAC franchise. Naturally pricing is going to be different––overhead, certifications, insurances, and other factors are completely different. If you do choose to get quotes from different-sized contracting companies, be sure all factors and services are the same from all. Don’t be afraid to bring this up during your quote.
Nothing beats education. We’re not recommending you take a training course on HVAC systems. What we are saying is to take some time to do some reading on air conditioners, whether you look online or at your local library. If you know something about HVAC lingo and what’s actually out there when you’re looking, whatever your quoting contractors say won’t be Greek to you. You’ll have a basic understanding and can converse intelligently. There’s less chance you’ll be taken advantage of as well.
Keep in mind your relationship with your contractor should never end after the installation for your system. First, you want to be sure you’re examining warranties. Sometimes things can go wrong with your system early on, and you want to be sure your warranty covers them. Ask about the manufacturer warranty versus the company’s warranty. Second, proper maintenance of your new system is imperative. The better you care for your new air conditioner, the longer it should last. Having annual cleanings and tune-ups is all part of regular maintenance. Check with each contractor for what’s offered after the install. Many companies offer service or maintenance contracts that can save you money in the long run. Again, be sure you’re comparing apples to apples.
Getting more than three quotes can simply end up confusing you. And getting less than three may not allow you to really find the contractor for the job. Ask around who your friends and neighbors have used and whether they recommend their contractors or not. Read reviews online. This is a big investment, so take the time to find three worthy companies. But be sure to get three. The three-quote practice is a pretty standard recommendation for a reason.
There’s a lot to know and ask when gathering quotes for your new air conditioner. But you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You can find many lists and checklists online to use as a jumping-off point for what to look for when finding contractors and then what to ask them during their quote. Use whatever is most comfortable for you. Here’s a pretty comprehensive list from Energy Star® to get you started: https://www.energystar.gov/ia/products/heat_cool/HVAC_QI_bidsheet.pdf.
Investing in a new air conditioner is not to be taken lightly. There’s a lot to consider, as it’s quite an investment. Once you get your quotes, don’t automatically go with the lowest one. In most cases you get what you pay for. On the other hand, if you’ve followed our recommendations above, the lowest bid might just be the right choice. If you have any questions, feel free to speak with one of our technicians. We can be reached at 503-233-1779.