How to Find the Best Pro, Service, and System to Heat your Home
Repairing, installing, or upgrading your HVAC (Heat, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) involves hiring a contractor from a reputable and authorized licensed dealer. You should always ask to see your heating contractor's gas license if they come to fix your furnace.
Canadian HVAC tradespeople have an hourly wage between $15-$37 transportation and parts not included). Service calls for furnaces usually average around $200-$300.
About Central HVAC Systems
The size and zones within your home matter; these affect the system's cost, size, and energy out-put options.
Weather-tight R 2000 homes need good fresh air circulation. Bacteria, pollution, and toxic chemicals can accumulate in the home if the air is not circulated, or filtered properly.
It is recommended that you include a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter in your HVAC system. These popular filters can eliminate up to 99.97% of all pollen, mold spores, animal dander, hair, dust mites, bacteria, smoke particles, and dust. You can find name brand air filters at your local hardware store from anywhere between $25-$50.
According to government energy experts, "heating and cooling your home… typically makes up about 48% of your utility bill". There are ways to save energy and money on your next bill. By combining insulation techniques, different equipment, and technology, you could cut your energy use by up to 30%.
To keep old and new systems running efficiently:
- Clean the filters often (anywhere from bi-monthly, to annually, to bi-annually)
- Have your system serviced annually (or bi-annually) for calibration, tune-ups, and fluid replacement
Getting your System Serviced
An ill-trained HVAC serviceperson can be extremely dangerous. They work with wiring, gas piping, and enough voltage to kill! Be cautious of who you hire.
Find the Right Company
- Find a trusted, licensed company to do repairs, maintenance, or installations by reading about their client reviews on TrustedPros.ca
- Verify their gas license number online with your provincial safety authority.
- Look for companies that offer extensive warranties on their installation and repair services. Companies that offer 10-year warranties generally take their quality seriously.
- Try and stick with the same technicians to service your system. They can give you knowledgeable advice and quick service, which will save you money.
- You can consider an insurance plan with the company you hire, but this isn't always recommended. For $15-$20 a month you can sign a contract to maintain and repair the appliance should any problems occur. The average service call is about $200-300.00 a visit. This CBC article investigates these types of contracts. Be sure to read any contract thoroughly before you buy into it!
Repairs Done Right
- Furnace units are electrical, and they must be turned off before you can examine the repair any problems.
- Make sure that all the technician's replacement parts are new. New parts will either be boxed, or have their barcode taped on the side.
- Observe your technician.
- Ask questions, and expect solid answers. If your technician can't give you a good reason for why they need to replace a part or do a procedure, the cause may not be legitimate. A technician could be guessing their way through it, and this will cost you in parts and labour.
- You can order parts yourself for a cheaper price online. Simply ask your serviceperson for the product code.
- Question the charges that your technician wants to bill you for. They may be charging more for “seasonal procedures”, which may be unnecessary.
- Make sure you obtain an itemized receipt or invoice for the service call. This will protect you from getting overcharged. It will also be a helpful tool for any future service people.
Things you should know.
Products on the Market
You must carefully choose your heating strategy to compliment your house layout, the outside climate, and occupants. While central air systems are popular, they may not necessarily be the best for you!
Central HVAC System
Installing a new HVAC system can run you anywhere from $1,000 to above $10,000. Duct work averages at about $8,000. Without ducting, the furnace itself should cost between $4,000-$5,000. It's recommended that you buy mid-range equipment. The parts used within furnace systems are usually all the same, except for the exterior.
Depending on the type of furnace and the fuel, the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rate is between 55%-90% and above.
Split/Multi-Split System and Heat Pumps
Split systems are great for additions or small spaces. They are compact, and energy efficient. They suck air from outside and cool it within the home. Ductless, single zone, split systems range from $2,500 and below. If you're scoping the market, aim for a Japanese brand.
Heat Pumps pull air from outside, and push heated air into your house. They can also dehumidify your home. Ductless, single zone, heat pump systems usually range between $3,000-$6,000.
These systems are great from regulating and controlling temperature in specific zones because they have separate units in each room. They are significantly more efficient than central air systems. They usually run on electricity.
Some provincial governments have great incentive programs to help homeowners switch to more efficient systems like the split and heat pump systems.
Converting your furnace system to a heat pump can reduce your heating costs by 50%. Heat pumps have an energy efficiency AFUE rate of 80%-95% and above. Heat pumps should not be used in environments that dip below -20 Celsius.
Radiant heat is the most efficient and effective home heating method. Rather than heating a room by blowing warm air into the space (HVAC), it heats objects in the home through heat waves. This creates a sustained warmth. Radiant heat is great for zone heating.
There is electric, and combustion radiant heat. A boiler uses combustion to the heat water that fills radiant equipment. German and Japanese boilers are usually the best products to buy.
Radiators were a popular choice in the past. Today, a single radiator unit (boiler and installation not included) can cost around $100-$560. New companies are introducing products that use different colours and materials to make a hot statement!
An efficient radiant heating option is radiant heated flooring. To install radiant heat under an existing floor, you can expect to pay between $6 - $20 ft2. This does not include the cost of installing a boiler. If you are building a home, you can install radiant heated floors with independent room thermostats, wall mounted gas fired boilers, and domestic water heating for around $13.50 ft2. Explore various companies that offer different types of flooring technology.
You can find electric infrared heating options as well in the form of wall panels. The equipment is pricey, but it's said to be extremely efficient. Radiant panels can lower your electricity bill by 12%. You can find heating panels in the form of mirrors. This product sells for $699-$7,999.
Finally, there are the good old electric baseboard heaters. Electric baseboards have an AFUE rate of 100%! They are typically more affordable than most other types of radiant heating methods, and they run on electricity, making them a green option. Electric Baseboard heaters average anywhere between $45-$30 a unit. You can find more expensive, stylish options, or just buy covers to hide a basic baseboard to make it look more interesting.
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