With winter in full swing, temperatures low, and home heating units in use, having your system serviced can be essential to staying safe and warm this season. December, January, and February are high-fire-risk months. According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), heating equipment is the number two cause of home fires. Of those, 64% of home heating fires are due to a failure to maintain equipment and 27% are caused by close proximity of heating equipment to flammable items.
Because of these startling statistics, we wanted to provide some great heating-related fire prevention tips to avoiding accidental house fires and keeping your family safe, warm, and protected this winter.
Have your system maintained – Whether it’s once a year or twice a year, make sure you have an HVAC professional come out and service your heating system to ensure everything is working properly and any potential problems are identified and resolved.
Upgrade to a central heating system – If it’s within your home budget to upgrade your system, central heat is the safest option from a home-fire perspective. Short Pump Heating & Air provides multiple home heating options and can provide insight on what the safest, most economical type of system would be for you and your home
Annual chimney cleaning – Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, cleaning out your chimney annually helps prevent chimney fires. Sticky deposits, known as creosote, can build up along the walls and over a long period of time become highly flammable. Removing this will significantly lower your risk for a chimney fire.
Keep flammables 3 feet from heating equipment – Common household flammables often found by heating equipment include gasoline, clothing, paper, wood scraps, paint, bedding, drapery, and upholstered furniture. Be sure to provide at least 3 feet between flammable items and your heating equipment.
Turn off heaters – When you are heading to bed or leaving your home, be sure to turn off any space heaters or heating equipment.
Test smoke detectors twice a year – Be sure to check your smoke detectors throughout the house twice a year to ensure your safety in the event something catches fire.
Use space heaters responsibly – Never leave a space heater unattended, keep it on a level, non-flammable surface, and only plug these into GFI systems.
Have an evacuation plan – Sit down with your family and communicate an evacuation plan. Keep fire ladders in the upstairs rooms, identify where fire extinguishers are located and make sure your family knows what to do in the event of a house fire.
When considering which company to go with for your HVAC repair or installation, you will come across differences in billing. Some companies charge a flat-rate for service, and others charge hourly rates, based on their time on the job and the materials used.
There are some key differences that you should understand about these pricing models before you make a decision that you might regret. Read on to see how flat-rate pricing stacks up against hourly.
What is the Difference Between Flat-Rate and Hourly Pricing for HVAC Service?
Flat-rate pricing is just that: the customer is given a price up front that includes parts, labor, and sales tax, as well as any other materials needed to get the job finished.
On the other hand, hourly pricing usually involves an hourly rate plus parts and material costs. With this model, the customer is not told upfront how much the work will cost. They are agreeing to pay based on the length of time the job takes.
Taken at face value, it’s easy to see why some customers might want to see an hourly estimate, so they understand where their money is going and what to expect in terms of cost. But let’s dig a little deeper…
A Closer Look at Fixed-Rate Pricing for HVAC Services
On the consumer end, a fixed-rate price performs one glorious function: it takes away any speculation about the final price tag, and lets the customer relax and know exactly what to expect.
On the provider end, it gives an incentive to work efficiently and get the repair finished in a timely manner. In terms of human psychology, it takes care of one of the most fundamental human desires: we all want to know what to expect. When expectations match the outcomes, everyone is satisfied.
A Closer Look at Hourly Pricing for HVAC Services
In contrast to fixed-rate pricing, hourly pricing does the exact opposite: it creates uncertainty about how much the final price tag will be and can lead to unreasonable expectations.
For the provider, billing by the hour can actually provide an incentive to take longer on a job or send a slower technician. After all, the more hours on the job, the higher the billing costs will be.
As anyone who has ever had an HVAC system installed or repaired can agree, the less time the job takes, the better. The interruption to the flow of day-to-day life is already a hassle, but add in the stress of not knowing how much a job is going to cost, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for disaster. Unrealistic expectations can lead to a lot of frustration when the clock is ticking and the price tag is climbing with every extra hour.
With hourly pricing, a customer could end up paying a different price for the exact same job, depending on the skills and experience of the service technician. We do not think this is fair for the customer or for the HVAC company.
Another aspect of flat-rate versus hourly is customer protection. Sometimes unforeseen issues arise during a job. What was quoted as a 4-hour job can suddenly stretch into a 6-hour job when unexpected issues occur. That’s a 50% increase. When you’ve budgeted for the originally estimated hours/hourly rate, the financial hit can hurt. With a flat-rate pricing structure, that isn’t an issue. The HVAC company will take the loss and will be working hard to get the job done as efficiently as possible.
Flat-Rate Pricing for HVAC Service is Best for You and the HVAC Contractor
At Short Pump Heating & Air, we believe that flat-rate pricing is the most transparent and fair pricing structure for everyone involved, both the customer and the HVAC contractor. When your air conditioner or heat goes out, it usually happens when you least expect it and when you need it most. The last thing you should be worried about is mysterious pricing leaving you in the dark, especially when you’re already sweating or shivering!
For fair and efficient service with no surprises, you can expect satisfaction with flat-rate pricing over hourly pricing.
Short Pump Heating & Air is able to provide flat rate pricing on 99% of our service, repair, and installation work. Give us a call at (804) 364-9040 or contact us online if you have any HVAC service needs or system questions. We would love the opportunity to become your heating and air conditioning provider!
We look forward to hearing from you, and we invite you to check out our great reviews to see why we are the top choice for HVAC service in and around Richmond, VA!
People have always longed for warmth. From simple fires to complex Roman aqueducts, which allowed the Roman population hot bath water, heat brought comfort. The famed aqueducts required hundreds of people to burn wood and create steam to warm the water above. Wealthy Romans used the same methods of hot water to heat the floors of their homes.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the sophisticated aqueduct system was abandoned in favor of more primitive fireplaces and stoves.
The invention in 1624 of a fireplace with a grate allowed for warm air to circulate a room. The grate controlled the amount of air circulating, but controlling the heat was still difficult. The fireplace had to be maintained by frequent stoking.
In the United States, the abundance of forests and available wood helped early settlers enjoy a fireplace and warm home. Chimneys became a necessity, and everyone had to remain close to the fireplace, which frequently was also used for cooking. It wasn’t the most efficient heating system, but it did work.
By the 1880s, many of these homes used boilers fueled by coal, which proved to be a tremendous improvement.
The invention of the cast iron radiators was an early central heating system which allowed steam heat to be distributed throughout the house. In 1885, Dave Lennox developed a furnace that used ducts to heat the rooms. Coal still had to be kept stoked and heated. This was the beginning of central home heating.
By 1935, the duct system was vastly improved by the use of electric fans, which forced warm air through ducts. Coal was still the primary source of fuel. It worked, but it could be cumbersome and messy. The furnace also had to be re-stoked every morning. By this time, clean gas heat provided a welcome alternative to coal. Gas had been used for lighting for decades. But gas-fueled furnaces with a thermostat allowed for great control of home heating.
Boilers and furnaces were a great advancement in home heating, but control was still manual. It wasn’t until the late 1880s that Albert Butz invented a way to regulate temperature by using a damper. The damper controlled the amount of air used in coal furnaces, thus allowing for proper regulation of temperature. Approximately 25 years later, Butz’ patent was incorporated with a clock. This allowed for actual programming of heat. Thermostats could be set to start heating at a set time, thus providing warm rooms when people rose in the morning. This was a huge leap for home heating.
The introduction and use of electricity made the convection heater, a type of space heater, possible in the 1920s. These heaters worked with hot water or steam coils. The early Model S pulled in cold air and heated it, then returned the warm air to circulate through the room. The most popular electric heating system today would be the central heat pump. Early models of the heat pump were developed in the 1940’s. They started to become extremely popular in the 1980’s due to the oil crisis. People were looking to get away from heating with fossil fuels. In milder climates, heat pumps are still considered the most efficient way to heat your home.
Today, boilers fueled by either gas or oil provide both heat through a radiator system and warm water. Many boilers are also being operated with electricity.
Central heating is common in most homes. Interestingly, many of them still use the hot water system related to the one invented by the Romans.