Most residential heating and AC Companies offer annual maintenance agreements. These go under a variety of names, such as planned maintenance, customer loyalty program, yearly service agreements, and so on. Though they go by many names, the overall premise of maintenance agreements is fairly simple: you sign up for a once or twice a year tune-up of your heating and AC system. For this, you get a deeply discounted price for that planned service, plus discounts on future parts and/or labor, preferential scheduling, and other benefits. During periods of extreme cold — such as those much of the U.S. just went through — preferential scheduling of repair work can be a big benefit. Of course, if there is so much snow that their trucks can’t run, nothing happens until the roads are clear. On the financial benefits, some service companies let you build up credits and roll them over to following years and apply them to major repairs or a new system.
As mentioned in our November 2010 blog, these agreements help HVAC contractors level out their work flow — they usually have you schedule the planned tune-ups during the spring and fall, when they are naturally less busy. Unlike extended warranties, which may (or may not — depending on who offers them, and the fine print such as exclusions and deductibles) provide much value, preventive maintenance on your AC and heating system can more than pay for itself in fewer emergency repairs and lower utility bills.
If you choose wisely up front – see how to choose a good HVAC contractor here – there is not much down side risk to these agreements. If the company were to change management or slip up on its quality of service, you usually would not be obligated for long enough to be a problem. However, the benefits, such as a more comfort, a efficient A/C system, and a safety check for carbon monoxide from your furnace, provide tangible and ongoing value.
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