It happens to every homeowner at one point or another–the news that an appliance or part of your home must be replaced, which means paying a large amount of money unexpectedly. Hearing the total amount can feel like a slap in the face! For the most part, maintaining your home HVAC system can be predictable…every spring and fall you should plan on having a regular maintenance check and be ready for a few minor repairs that may come up. Since air conditioners and furnaces have a life span of 12-15 years, the “death” of a unit is something that you can usually anticipate. BUT, as with everything in life, the unexpected does happen and sometimes homeowners are faced with an emergency HVAC bill. For many families, paying the expected bills and regularly making ends meet is a struggle…so large unexpected bills can completely devastate their financial balance. So what do you do when you get stuck between a rock and a hard place? Here are a few options that we regularly make our customers aware of:
Financing your purchase through a bank is a great option for handling emergency HVAC costs. The amount of money you will be able to borrow depends on your credit…the higher your credit score, the more money the bank will allow you to borrow.
Financing through your HVAC company
Many HVAC companies have an agreement with a bank that will offer financing options to their customers. The great thing about financing through the HVAC company’s bank is that the HVAC company knows the ins and outs of that bank and can quickly get a financing plan set up for you–if your credit is approved, of course. What can you do if your credit isn’t good enough to borrow the amount of money you need? Some banks offer joint financing, which means that you can partner with a family member or friend to borrow the money. Their credit score will be taken into account with yours and you will both be held responsible if payments aren’t made.
Financing through your own bank
Some homeowners find that they can get a better interest rate or payment period if they finance through their own bank. It always pays to check with several different banks to see what they can offer you. The only drawback that we personally have seen when customers finance through their own bank is the amount of paperwork and time it takes to set up the financing. It takes a lot more time for a homeowner to set up a financing plan than it does for us as the HVAC company to set it up simply because we already have a plan and understanding in place with our bank. Depending on your circumstance–if it’s the middle of the summer and your AC needs to be completely replaced–you may not want to work with your bank for 2 weeks trying to get payment sorted out.
Power providers offer rebates during certain times of the year for certain equipment installations or updates. Power providers want to encourage customers to use high-efficiency HVAC equipment to save energy, so be aware that if you are buying a high-efficiency unit you will more than likely to be able to get a rebate. For example, here in Anderson, SC Duke Power offers rebates for air duct repair and replacement, attic insulation and sealing, geothermal heat pump replacement, HVAC audit, high-efficiency heat pump or central AC replacement, and window AC unit replacement/installation. If your emergency repair or replacement includes any of these areas then you can receive a rebate of up to $500.
Manufacturers also offer rebates on certain models of their HVAC equipment. For example, American Standard offers some great rebates of up to $700 off of air conditioners and heat pumps. Also take a look at federal and state energy incentive rebates.
Financial assistance for Veterans and others
If you are a veteran (or live with one) you may qualify for special financial assistance in paying for HVAC equipment. One organization that we have worked with is called Operation Homefront. Operation Homefront helped one of our customers pay for a new HVAC system when they really thought they would have to go without because they couldn’t afford it. There are many other programs similar to Operation Homefront for veterans as well as non-veterans. Here are a few others that are available:
Modest Needs: Gives short-term financial help to people/families living at poverty line to prevent homelessness.
Veterans of Operation Iraqi/Enduring Freedom: Helps veterans of those wars with food, utilities, and housing.
Army Emergency Relief: Helps veterans and active Army soldiers and dependents with a variety of financial needs.
South Carolina Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program: Helps low-income families with utility bills.
Also consider local charities like Anderson Interfaith Ministries in Anderson, SC or Action Incorporated in Athens, GA. Do your own thorough search online of any organizations that may help you and don’t hesitate to go to a physical address and ask for more information in person. Remember, if you don’t ask you will never get assistance and the worst they can say is no!
At Stiles, we want you and your family to be comfortable and we work with our customers to help them find the financial help they need. Don’t despair if you find yourself in an unexpected situation and needing expensive HVAC installation or repairs, let your HVAC company know your situation and be sure to consider all your options.