How important is a yearly maintenance contract for home heating systems?

WASHINGTON – To save money, one consumer expert recommends skipping a yearly maintenance contract for a home heating system, unless the house is especially large, dusty or the heater has old equipment.

“For most people it would be enough to have a checkup every two, three or four years,” said Robert M. Krughoff, president of Center for the Study of Services/Consumers’ CHECKBOOK, an independent, nonprofit organization.

“The important thing though is to clean air filters regularly,” he said.

Experts at Washington Consumers’ Checkbook offer comprehensive advice for evaluating, choosing and negotiating with heating firms to get the best quality work for the lowest price.

For general maintenance checks, it can be especially important to get multiple evaluations from different firms.

“There will be a lot of firms that encourage you to get work done that you probably don’t need,” said Krughoff.

Krughoff recommends getting detailed evaluations and recommendations, including price quotes, before choosing a firm to work on or replace a home heating system.

Checkbook finds there can be big price differences among area firms, and prices don’t reflect quality of service.

“Some places cost three times as much as others,” Krughoff said..

“Some of the lower priced firms are the best in terms of quality.”

Through special arrangement with nonprofit Washington Consumers’ CHECKBOOK, WTOP listeners can access CHECKBOOK’s ratings of 222 Washington-area heating and air conditioning companies without a subscription until Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013.

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