Washington D.C. 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 Washington, D.C. Also covered are the metro areas of Arlington, and Alexandria, VA, and Silver Spring MD. 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 cooling to heating needed each year, HVAC school listings and 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 navigation menu on top of 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.
Due to relationships with their equipment distributors or ownership by a manufacturer, some air conditioning and heating contractors install a limited number of equipment brands. Many independents have a brand for which they are dealers, but will order and install any brand of new equipment you request. However, most all the contractors will perform repair and maintenance on any brand of central heater, furnace and air conditioner.
In addition to heating and cooling for indoor comfort and energy savings, an increasing number of 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, such as the addition of solar screens or radiant barriers. If the service company you select does not perform conservation improvements on homes or buildings, they should be able to recommend another District of Columbia area company that 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. 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 easily, 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 Washington D.C. climate and resources affect your HVAC needs and decisions
The DC climate affects your heating and cooling loads plus the payback time when comparing the efficiency ratings of different air conditioners, heaters or furnaces. On the climate map of the U.S. with 5 zones, the District of Columbia area lies in cooling zone 2 and heating zone 2. These require approximately 935 cooling hours and 3784 heating degree-days per year. As a general guide, the average Washington D.C. home or office uses the heater 4 times more than the air conditioner over a calendar year. Keep in mind that the District of Columbia is located near the border of two zones. Proximity to bays and other topographical features can cause microclimates, so be sure to rely on the actual measured calculations from your heating and air conditioning contractor.
The humid subtropical climate in the DC area brings four distinct seasons. The hottest two months, July and August, average highs in the mid to upper 80s F., and temperature spikes can reach 100 degrees. During the coldest two months, December and January, the lows dip into the low to mid 20 degree F. range. Between these highs and lows each year are days and partial days (especially in the spring and fall) in which home heating and cooling may not be necessary. Still on these days, a dehumidifier, whole house air filter or fresh air ventilation system could make a major difference in your comfort.
Pollen, allergies and air filters in the DC area
In the D.C. area air filters are becoming a necessity to more and more residents. Certain mid-Atlantic plants can influence what type of air filter you and your A/C system need. Some notable examples include Birch, Cedar, and Maple trees. More allergens include ragweed in the fall, plus grasses, molds and other types of allergy producing plants. The daily pollen count and allergy forecast for the District and the surrounding metro area can help you understand and plan for these.
Utility and Conservation Providers
For the metro DC area, DSIRE database lists energy efficiency rebates and incentives. Included on the list are the District Department of the Environment, tax credits and more. In many cases, your A/C and heating contractor can save you time by coordinating all available energy conservation and rebate programs, from federal tax credits to state and local rebates and incentives.
The availability of natural gas or heating oil can determine which HVAC equipment will give you the best combination of comfort and lower energy bills. Since natural gas is available in most DC neighborhoods, many owners have chosen gas central furnaces or boilers rather than heat pumps or all electric resistance heating. If natural gas prices climb faster than electricity rates, this trend would likely change. Also, recent innovations in the dual fuel heat pump design are giving more options. 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 and humidity. Other local conditions such as solid rock located at the surface hinder the use of ground source heat pumps. To learn more about this topic, go to the top of this page and browse the heat pump page under Expanded A/C and Heating Details.
How a whole house approach includes the “envelope” in the load calculation
If you plan to get price quotes on a new A/C and heating system, look for a contractor who will factor the heating and cooling demands of the DC area climate along with the size and condition of your home or building “envelope” into a critical load calculation. Avoid a rule of thumb load calculation based only on square footage or using the same size system as the old one without verification. This calculation requires considerable training and expertise.
Resources for HVAC technical or vocational training in the Washington D.C. area
If you are interested in learning more about the technical side of air conditioning and heating in the metro DC area, such as schools or courses to get a HVAC license, here are some local or regional educational and association links:
ACCA National Capital Chapter Apprenticeship Program
P.O. Box 4268
Silver Spring, MD 20914
Phone: (301) 384-2222
ASHRAE National Capital Chapter: The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.