How to pick the best A/C system when you need one

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How many of us know what kind of HVAC system we have in our home? Do you know what brand it is? The size? The quality or model?

How many of us have it serviced regularly? Do you change the filters?

Many of us don't know or do these things. We have faith that the service technician we call will guide us in the right direction as to his recommendation for repairing it or needing replacement.

While we hope that the technician we call is honest, it would be good to equip ourselves with a little knowledge about what we currently have and what we need.

Many companies are looking for a sale, and many homeowners think they have no choice. Consequently, many homeowners who invested in new, high-efficiency heating and air did not get the comfort and energy savings they paid for.

Buying a new heating and cooling system is a very important financial decision, so having the right information is key. What you pay to buy and install your system is only a small portion of the total cost.

Essentially, we are giving permission to our electric company to send us a bill each month for using the new system we just purchased. We also must maintain it, pay to fix it when it breaks and replace it if it fails prematurely.

Over time, the combined costs far exceed the initial cost of the purchase. The wrong system, improperly installed, could sentence you to more than 15 years of excessive utility and repair bills. In addition, it might not deliver the comfort you were expecting and deserve.

Worst of all, it could adversely affect your and your family's health and well-being.

Choosing a company that cares about your needs is a start. Make sure that the technician coming to evaluate your system is knowledgeable about it and has your best interest at heart.

It is important that he doesn't make a recommendation before asking you basic questions about your home and the level of comfort you are looking for.

Before you choose a company and the equipment they sell, do some research. Some equipment might have excellent reviews, but is it good for the coastal humidity and salt air?

Living near the water makes all the difference in which system is better for you, considering the insulation and windows in your home, any allergies, and your expectations.

You should feel as though there is no reason to get a second opinion, even though it's recommended. You should feel as if you made a good investment. You should not have buyer's remorse.

Fabbie Stauffer is the sales manager at Howell Chase Heating and Air, based in Bluffton and serving the Lowcountry.

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