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BBB shares tips to save money, prevent HVAC repair scams

“Last year BBB got over 7000 complaints about heating and air conditioning companies,” Sarah Wetzel said.

O'FALLON, Ill. — Arriving to a hot home can leave us all feeling a little warm under the collar, so in an effort to stay cool, Sarah Wetzel, with the Better Business Bureau, said we all need to do a little spring cleaning on our HVAC system.

“Now is the time to do it because you don’t want to get to those super-hot days and have a malfunction,” Wetzel, a spokesperson with BBB, said. “It’s best to be prepared. Have an HVAC contractor come in, take a look, and make sure there’s nothing wrong with it.”

However, you need to beware of a growing trend.

“Last year, BBB got over 7000 complaints about heating and air conditioning companies,” Wetzel said.

With many contractors backed up, getting multiple bids could be the best way to save.

“Get at least three bids,” Wetzel said. “Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples, and that everything is the same. Make sure that everything is in writing as far as what work is going to need to be done. What materials need to be used. Get a timeline [on] what happens if that contract isn’t fulfilled and get it all in writing.”

Requests for full payment up front should raise red flags.

“You never want to pay everything up front,” Wetzel said. “If they’re asking for a small fee that’s fine. That’s usually where we see a lot of people get in trouble. They’re paying everything up front, and it gives the contractor the ability to just take off and run.”

You should ask any contractor for licensing and insurance, but there’s another step that won’t cost you a dime.

“Check out your warranty,” Wetzel said. “Make sure you’re going through, and asking the contractor to do it to, and see if there’s something that you’re missing that could save you money.”

Unfortunately, some of you will need new units that cost thousands of dollars if it’s not energy efficient.

“If you don’t already have one you can put in a smart thermostat or have someone come put in a smart thermostat for you,” SmartRent CEO Lucas Haldeman said. “That really is the most important thing to conserve on electricity this summer.”

“A lot of them have the energy star to look for,” Wetzel said. “It may cost you more up front, but it could save you money in the long run, so that’s another thing to ask your contractor about. Is there tax savings, or savings for you in the long run as well.”

“When you have a smart thermostat you can set a smart program,” Haldeman said. “When you know during the day, you’re at work you can just automatically have the air conditioning turn off or turn back on before you come home.”

For more information on how you can save money this summer, or to request a quote from a BBB accredited contractor, click here.

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