Archive for June 2017

Are premium heating and air conditioning systems worth the money?

You might expect me to tell you that yes, you should shell out the extra money for a premium heating and air conditioning system. After all, we do sell them!

But the truth is, they’re not worth the money for some people. Only you can decide whether or not a pricier HVAC system is right for you. So like a lot of things, the answer to this is that it depends.

What does it depend on?

It depends on your definition of comfort, for one. It also depends on your budget, of course. And you’ll need to take into consideration your expectations for an HVAC system. Do you want something that’s simply going to keep the summer heat and winter cold at bay? Or do you want to be completely comfortable at all times of the year?

Either choice is really okay, and we sell to customers in either frame of mind. And since comfort is so hard to quantify, the best way to figure out what kind of HVAC system fits your needs is to have a conversation about it with an expert.

Apart from that, though, I can give you some insight based on how we work in the Edmond and Oklahoma City markets.

Some companies present their HVAC system options as good, better, and best, but I think that’s a little deceptive. The higher-end models legitimately might not be the best option, and might be a waste of money depending on your space and what you’re looking for.

Instead, we think about the different tiers of pricing and HVAC models as basic, intermediate, and advanced. Just like with vehicles, there’s a buyer for everything—from the basic car that gets you from A to B, to the high-end models that people stare at whenever they’re on the road.

For our purposes, we always estimate the investment for the equipment and the installation. Larger investments sometimes include reworking the ductwork in the home, but that’s certainly not something we do with every install. Here’s an estimate of the investment for each level of HVAC equipment and installation:

  • Basic: $8,000-11,000
  • Intermediate: $11,000-14,000
  • Advanced: $14,000-20,000

We do not push any of our most expensive models on our customers; in fact, that doesn’t even come up unless we’re in a conversation with a client who specifically brings up that type of comfort level and investment.

The vast majority of our customers who have an HVAC system replaced go with either our basic or intermediate models, because that’s what works best for most people.

For some people, though, the increased comfort is worth the money for our advanced models and installation. Typically, we will not install a higher-end HVAC system without also investigating the ductwork, because poor airflow will limit the effectiveness of that high-end unit. That contributes to the larger investment, but also means that their system ultimately works more efficiently.

But that’s not a necessary or even a good option for everyone, and we’re not going to pressure our customers into buying something more than they need.

If you’d like to have a conversation about what makes sense for your home, we’re happy to talk through your options in more detail. Give us a call to talk about how your current system is working (or isn’t) and what your solutions might be.

Update on Freon availability

This is an update on the issue of the refrigerant Freon (R-22) being phased out, which we talked about several months ago. You can find that earlier blog here if you’re curious.

To sum up that article, Freon (R-22) is being phased out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The phaseout started about 25 years ago, but production of Freon is slowing and eventually no more will be made.

A lot of HVAC units still run on Freon, though, and lowering the supply without lowering the demand means that the price is going to continue to increase.

We anticipated having to stop using Freon as an air conditioner refrigerant within the next few years, because we don’t want to charge our customers enormous amounts of money simply to refill their refrigerant. (Freon costs about eight to ten times the amount it cost when I started in the industry.)

However, the price of Freon has increased even more dramatically than we expected, and we have placed our last order. We would not be able to offer fair prices to our customers with the rate that Freon’s market value is increasing, and we’re not willing to void anyone’s warranty, either, by using an unapproved refrigerant.

That comes to the difficult part: at some point, our customers and everyone else in the Oklahoma City area with an air conditioner that uses Freon will have to replace their equipment with equipment that runs on a different refrigerant.

Are there companies that will sell you Freon at an increasingly higher rate? Of course.

Are there other options of refrigerant you can use, if your air conditioner typically uses Freon? Technically, yes, but we represent three different manufacturers and doing that voids every one of their warranties. So that’s not something we do.

Can you find local companies who will put cheaper refrigerant in your air conditioning unit, at the risk of voiding your warranty? Again, of course you can.

At some point, though, even companies who are willing to bend the rules will find that Freon simply isn’t available.

Our goal in this is simply to make you aware, as a consumer, of the way that the market is going to be changing in the next few years. At some point, it will probably be necessary to replace your air conditioning equipment. That’s a given anyways, since HVAC systems do tend to wear out.

But the escalated expense of Freon and the decreasing availability means that it might make sense to replace your unit before it completely wears out, to avoid paying unnecessarily high costs for refrigerant or voiding your warranty.

How you choose to address the issue is up to you, but we think it’s fair that you as a consumer have some insight on this industry change that will directly affect you and your family.