Homeowners should be very careful before choosing a heating and cooling contractor for their home. There are huge differences in quality and professionalism throughout the industry. The "best" contractors will typically be members of one or more professional contractor associations. You should be looking for contractors who are well-educated and certified in these particular areas:
Heating and Cooling - Service & Installation
While this may seem obvious, not all service and installation contractors are created equal. There are organizations that provide certification programs for technicians. One of which is The Building Performance Institute (BPI). BPI offers many types of certifications and is the nation's premier credentialing, quality assurance and standards setting organization for home performance professionals. When considering which contractor to call, looking for companies with BPI certified professionals is a smart and safe approach. BPI certifications ensure that you are dealing with high quality, well trained heating and cooling professionals.
According to BPI's website, "For many homeowners and tenants, energy bills account for far too much of the monthly budget. These homes suffer from performance problems ranging from inflated energy consumption to poor thermal comfort to indoor air quality problems. These are problems that regular contractors or even the best DIY homeowner cannot solve. BPI GoldStar Contractors conduct a comprehensive energy audit to find problems, then prescribe and prioritize improvements that make your home’s system function at its best. Our goal is to help improve the comfort, health, safety, durability and energy efficiency of America’s existing homes."
Another organization dedicated to the education and training of heating and cooling contractors is The Comfort Institute. Comfort Institute is an organization of contractors who are committed to going "beyond the box" in the area of building science. Almost all members are also BPI certified. If you select a Comfort Institute Member, you are selecting a contractor who has been trained by the most experienced experts in the industry in the area of home performance.
Duct Performance & Home Performance
The two additional areas your contractor should be well educated in are duct performance and home performance. This is where the Comfort Institute Members and Gold Star BPI contractors excel and the rest of the contractors get left behind. Your comfort, indoor air quality and system efficiency will suffer if all three areas are not addressed. This is commonly referred two as the "three-legged stool approach." The three legs are:
- The furnace and air conditioning
- The duct system
- The house itself
Most contractors are trained on #1, but lack knowledge on #2 and #3. Rest assured that if you call a Comfort Institute Member, like Chappels you are calling a contractor that has what it takes to address all three legs of the stool.