Is energy efficiency a top HVAC priority for you? Residential heating and cooling accounts for over 50 percent of the average American household's total energy use, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Whether you're always eco-conscious or just want to keep your HVAC energy consumption under control, take a look at the questions to ask before you hire a new contractor for air conditioning installation or heating system installation services.

Do You Conduct Home Energy Evaluations?

How efficient is your current heater or air conditioner? If you're not sure or you know the HVAC system uses energy at an unacceptable level, you need to hire a company with the skills and know-how to evaluate the overall electricity consumption. Not only should the technicians know how to assess a heater or air conditioner's energy use, they should also have the ability to find air losses, areas with poor insulation, or anything else that could force your HVAC system into working harder than it should.

While different contractors may offer different services, look for a company that will send a qualified technician to inspect the main/central part of the HVAC system, ducts, vents, chimneys, and anything else that could contribute to heating or cooling losses. This type of inspection can reveal problem areas and help you to decide whether to repair your heater/air conditioner, schedule maintenance services, replace parts (or all) of your HVAC system, or keep everything as-is.

What Types of HVAC Appliances Do You Sell or Install?

Most new heating and cooling systems are much more energy-efficient than the ones installed decades ago. But this doesn't mean that every heater or air conditioner is an eco-conscious choice. If you're not sure which brands or types of HVAC appliances to look for, start with ENERGY STAR qualified products. These meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements for energy efficiency and can save you money on residential HVAC-related electricity use. 

Along with the ENERGY STAR qualification, choose a company that can help you to select the most efficient options for your home. The contractor should explain the annual fuel utilization efficiency (or AFUE) ratio for new home heating appliances and the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (or SEER) number for central air conditioners. These ratings provide you with valuable information on a product's energy efficiency and what you can expect from its electrical consumption. 

What Does Heating or Air Conditioning Installation Include?

An energy-efficient heater or air conditioner is the first step to reducing your home's electrical usage. But the right appliance choice is only part of this eco-conscious equation. After an energy audit or inspection, the contractor should use any information gathered to shape the installation choices. This might mean that you need new air ducts, insulation around the air ducts, a special type of air filter, or a new venting system.