Chicago Air Conditioning and Heating: Service, Repair, and Equipment Contractors
This local page provides resources and information about A/C and heating service, repair, maintenance, and installers in Chicago, Illinois. Some listings also cover Napierville and Joliet. This information includes featured HVAC contractors plus a link to our handy printable grid to compare price quotes. Here you will also find sources of energy efficiency and equipment rebates, the ratio of hours of cooling and heating needed each year, pollen and air filters, plus more.
About HVAC contractors
The contractor you choose will make a big impact on your satisfaction and purchase of a new air conditioning and heating system. Why? They determine the size and type of equipment for your situation and they control the quality of the installation. If you have not yet seen them, in the top navigation menu on this page you will find quick tips and expanded topics on two essential topics: how to select the right HVAC contractor and how to buy a new heating and cooling system.
Most air conditioning and heating contractors stock and install a limited number of equipment brands. Some independent contractors will order and install any brand of new equipment you prefer to buy. Most of these service companies will perform repair and maintenance on all brands of central heaters, furnaces and air conditioners.
In addition to heating and cooling for indoor comfort and energy savings, many HVAC companies perform air quality work such as air filters, dehumidifiers and humidifiers, ventilation and prevention of toxic carbon monoxide gas from your furnace. However, not all of these perform energy efficiency improvements to houses or buildings. If the service company you select does not perform conservation improvements on homes or buildings, they should be able to recommend another Chicago area company who does.
How to compare air conditioning and heating equipment price quotes
Air conditioning and heating systems are made of components or units, and these can be interchanged to yield many possible combinations of performance and efficiency. Additionally, based on the particular situation in your home or building, these components must be chosen and installed to accommodate them. For these reasons, comparing proposals, features, and prices can be more than confusing.
To help you sort through your options, use our free and printer-friendly cost comparison organizer found in the navigation on the top of this page. If you get multiple price quotes, it will save you a lot of time and headaches. This grid allows you to compare the essential features from contractor bids including: main components; equipment efficiency in SEER and AFUE; manufacturer’s and installer’s warranties; and equipment brand.
How the Chicago climate and resources affect your HVAC needs and decisions
On the heating and cooling map of the U.S. with 5 zones, the Chicago area lies in cooling zone 2 and heating zone 1. These require approximately 935 cooling hours and 4626 heating degree-days per year. As a general and relative guide, the average Chicago home would need 4.9 times more heating than air conditioning over a calendar year. Keep in mind that Chicago is located near the border of two zones. Differences in elevation, large bodies of water, or other topographical or climatic influences can cause microclimates, so be sure to rely on actual measurements and calculations from your heating and air conditioning contractor.
Chicago experiences a wide range of weather activity and conditions. Also, its proximity to lake Michigan affects the climate there. The metro area, known locally as “Chicagoland”, experiences four distinct seasons, including days in which home heating and cooling may not be necessary. However, on these same days, a dehumidifier, whole house air filter or fresh air ventilation could make a huge difference in your comfort.
Local utility and conservation providers
The availability of natural gas or other primary fuels such as heating oil can determine which HVAC equipment will give you the best combination of comfort and lower utility bills. Chicago gets a substantial amount of its electrical power, one source quoted as much as 75%, from nuclear plants. In areas where natural gas or fuel oil is available, consumers often choose central furnaces rather than heat pumps. If primary fuel prices climb faster than electricity rates, this trend might change. In situations where a heat pump makes the best choice, some of the factors that affect air source heat pumps include the average daily temperature, fluctuations in temperature, and humidity.
For the Chicago area, the North Carolina State University DSIRE database shows state and local energy efficiency and conservation rebates and incentives. In many cases, your A/C and heating contractor can coordinate all available energy conservation and rebate programs, from federal tax credits to local rebates and incentives.
How a whole house approach includes the “envelope” in the load calculation
If you plan to get price quotes to buy a new A/C and heating system, look for contractors who will insert the heating and cooling demands of the Chicago climate along with the size and condition of your home or building “envelope” into a complex, but critical load calculation. For many reasons, a rule of thumb load calculation based only on square footage or using the same size system as the old one without verification should be avoided. This calculation requires considerable expertise or software and interpretation.
Resources for HVAC technical or vocational training in the Chicago area
If you are interested in learning more about the technical aspects of air conditioning and heating in the Chicago area, such as courses to get a Illinois HVAC license or industry associations, here are some useful links:
Northern Illinois Chapter of ACCA: Local branch of the Air Conditioning Contractors Association of America.
ASHRAE Illinois Chapter: American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.