6 Things You Need to Know Before Contacting an HVAC Contractor

utility worker inspecting

Before finding a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor, it can be very beneficial to do some homework. This article will provide considerations for finding an HVAC contractor and the information you should have handy before making a call.

Understanding your HVAC system
On average, HVAC accounts for 40% of the electricity consumption in a commercial building.1 However, many business owners and managers overlook their HVAC system's efficiency when trying to reduce costs.

There are many ways to tell if your current HVAC system is in need of an upgrade, repair or retrofit. For instance, if the current system is outdated, the heating, cooling or ventilation in indoor spaces may not respond effectively to occupancy. Your business’s utility bills may also be higher than you think. They should be relative to the size of your facility. Other challenges, such as controlling temperature, CO2 levels and airflow, may also be present.

If you have experienced these problems, it’s time to find an HVAC technician in your area who can evaluate your current system and help with repairs, upgrades and a quality maintenance plan to prevent issues.

Finding an HVAC contractor
Finding an HVAC contractor who is certified and licensed is critical in getting the most out of an existing HVAC system. As you go through the process of finding an HVAC technician, here are 6 things to keep in mind.

  1. Know your current HVAC system
    Before you consider any HVAC repairs, retrofits or upgrades, research the system currently in use in your building. Learn the make and model, and consult the manufacturer for more information about optimal use of the system. Look into whether it is compatible with upgrades you may be considering. Being armed with this knowledge can ensure finding an HVAC contractor with the appropriate expertise and experience.
  2. Learn about energy-efficient HVAC options
    There are several new energy-efficient HVAC products on the market that can potentially benefit your business. Researching this information can be valuable before finding an HVAC technician. One of the critical new technologies to consider is demand-controlled ventilation (DCV), which uses a CO2 sensor to regulate airflow to the number of people in a specific space. For larger systems, enhanced ventilation control (EVC), coupled with a variable frequency drive (VFD) on the blower, can save additional money and energy by modulating CO2 and temperatures in highly variable or low-occupancy spaces.
  3. Examine contractor qualifications
    Before hiring an HVAC contractor, ask questions about their certifications and experience. Identify whether they are a trained PG&E quality maintenance professional. Ask prospective contractors for a list of references and get referrals from friends or professional associates who may have experience finding an HVAC technician. Additionally, consult resources like the PG&E Trade Professional Alliance, which lists contractors who work with PG&E rebate and incentive programs.
  4. Ask for a detailed estimate
    You’ll want to compare pricing and service among multiple contractors before deciding on the right one for your needs. Take advantage of the fact that many HVAC contractors offer free or inexpensive estimates, and be sure to have the contractor itemize the estimate.
  5. Look for rebates and other incentives
    While in the process of finding an HVAC technician, ask what rebates and incentives might fit with your situation and needs. PG&E offers a number of different rebates and incentives, which can save your business money by offsetting the costs on HVAC repairs and upgrades.
  6. Prepare a list of questions for your HVAC contractor
    Once you have done your research, prepare a list of any questions you can think of regarding your HVAC system. These might include:
    • Which new systems are the most energy efficient?
    • Can a simple repair suffice instead of a complete overhaul?
    • What is the likely return on my investment?
    • What types of financing options are available to my business?
    • How can these repairs or upgrades be avoided in the future?
    Don't be afraid to ask a seemingly simple or unnecessary question. In the end, something you thought of as unimportant could be the key to getting the most out of your repair, retrofit or upgrade.

While finding an HVAC contractor can be an intimidating process, initial resources and information can serve as a key tool in identifying the right contractor for a business’s needs. To simplify the process, download "The Complete Guide to Working with a Lighting or HVAC Contractor" eBook from PG&E. This information resource will further detail considerations before hiring a contractor and include next steps, such as finding a certified contractor, working with them effectively, best-fit product information and more.

Referenced in article:

  1. Pacific Gas and Electric Company