The winters are cold, the summers are hot and we even get tornadoes every now and then –it’s hard not to love Springfield and its erratic weather patterns. But while we live in a beautiful city with small-town charm, the aberrant climate CAN have an effect on your AC and heating units, not to mention your bill….in walks Kelly Cox – HVAC technician, specialist, and small business owner.
Personally, I love Kelly (not in a romantic way, mind you) – he is the most genuine, authentic and helpful fellow I’ve met since moving back. In fact, I had the honor of sitting down with him and picking his brain on how to save money on my utilities bill every month. Little did I know I was in for a rude awakening about the heating and air conditioning industry in our fair town. He’s been in the business for 30 years, spending the last two decades building his own AC and heating empire, thoughtfully named Comfort Zone.
Over beer at Patton Alley Pub in downtown SGF, Kelly dished out many common misconceptions people have about the heating and cooling and the industry in general. Needless to say, I learned a lot.
Common Misconceptions About Heating and Cooling
- Misconception #1: Heating and Cooling Prices are High!
Many people often think “my 10-year-old furnace is out, so I need to replace it.” First and foremost, this is not true. Oftentimes, a simple and cheap part within your furnace needs to be replaced, but we have been misled to believe the whole thing needs to be interchanged. Keep in mind furnaces last 25 to 30 years, and new furnaces often have a 20-year warranty on the heat exchanger (the main part of the furnace).
Because people believe this misconception, and many companies KNOW people believe this, specialists often come in with very high quotes for furnace replacement when it may simply be a part or two which needs to be fixed.
- Misconception #2: My Air Conditioning Unit isn’t Cooling – It Must be too Small for the House.
Kelly has MANY stories where he has found the refrigerant level wrong in a unit, or perhaps a coil is dirty, and instead of spending $80 to $150 bucks to fix a small issue, they replace their entire system. In actuality, the unit may be big enough – it may have just needed a little TLC.
- Misconception #3: I Don’t Need my AC System Maintenanced Because it is New.
At any given time, regardless how new your unit is, you may have refrigerant levels off or a technician who didn’t install the unit correctly, and you can spend an extra $50 to $100 a month on utilities because of it.
While Kelly is talking I am typing as fast as my hands will allow. He then said two things I won’t forget:
- It is a proven fact that having a digital programmable thermostat can help lower your monthly bill. You can do this by programming it to match outdoor temperatures while you are gone during the day – naturally, hotter in the summer and colder in the winter.
- Just because someone has been in the business for a while doesn’t mean they will take care of your needs. Whatever industry you are in, there are people who care and people who want money. Choose someone who has pride and integrity in what they are doing.
Is Your Heating & Cooling Company Ripping You Off?
- If your heating or cooling system isn’t working, and a technician walks in and say you have to replace the entire system after only being there a couple of minutes, BEWARE! They may be what Kelly calls a “change out” artist. These people come in and have one goal in mind – to make money!
- Sometimes you will need a new system, but it is very important to ask them why. And as always, GET A SECOND OPINION. Twice or three times a year, Comfort Zone is invited to someone’s house as a second opinion and finds a minor problem where the first company would’ve told them to they needed a new system. This is $300 vs $9000 depending on the issue!
- If a part in your AC or furnace needs to be replaced, and it isn’t large, heavy and doesn’t have a motor on it, it should be relatively inexpensive. If a part is small, around 6” or square, and they want to charge you $300 you are being over charged. Circuit boards are expensive and so are motors, but anything else is shouldn’t be too pricey. A $25 part can become 200-300 bucks if you get the wrong company…. YIKES.
Heating and Cooling Management for Winter and Summer Months
Let’s not forget that a little maintenance can go a long way when it comes to your AC and heating unit. Here are some tips Kelly gave which I am personally putting into effect IMMEDIATELY:
- Change the furnace filters or at least wash it every five months or so (change it more frequently if you have a high-traffic home).
- Your outdoor condensing unit (air conditioning) should be washed out at the beginning of the spring/summer season. There are filters inside you can spray with a hose – just be careful to spray the fin straight on and NOT from the side. Also remember to unplug the unit first – just to be safe.
- Kelly also recommends a full cleaning done in the spring and fall each year. Comfort Zone has yearly maintenance agreements for $150 which covers both spring and fall and up to an hour of extra service if needed. Again, this can save you anywhere from $20 to $50 a month on heating and cooling – so this service pays for itself!
In short, I am always happy to sit down and have a chat with Kelly – not only is he an expert in his craft, but he is passionate about what he does. One of the saddest things he has seen is older people, typically older affluent women, who get ripped off by their AC and heating specialist. Not only is this dishonest and petty, but it is downright disrespectful! Finding a reputable business with technicians who operate out of integrity can save you money, time and heartache.
If you are interested in contacting Comfort Zone for a quotation, all you have to do is fill out the form here or call them at (417) 890-8085.