You've looked at all your options, considered the pros and cons of different equipment and fuels and compared installation and operating costs in the energy charts and tables provided elsewhere in this guide. Now you're ready to improve on your existing system, and it's time to select a contractor. Here are some tips:
Your contractor will supply and install your equipment. Installation of fossil-fuelled appliances must be performed by a contractor who is registered with the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (previously the Fuels Safety Branch of the former Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations). Proper installation is essential for the safe, efficient and economical operation of your system.
Electric equipment must be installed by a licensed electrician and all electrical work must be inspected by the Electrical Safety Authority. For earth energy systems, insist on compliance with the Canadian Standards Association C448 design and installation standard when it is issued (or the C44S standard before then) and with all environmental regulations.
In the case of wood heating systems, look for registration with the Association of Wood Energy Technicians of Ontario.
Prices can vary significantly among contractors. Ask each firm for a written estimate covering the following items:
- The total cost and a listing of all necessary work including improvements to the existing system and the provision of combustion air if applicable
- Heat loss/gain analysis (see "Choose the right equipment" further down this page)
- The size and seasonal efficiency of the unit, and sound ratings if applicable
- Responsibility of the contractor or homeowner for:
- Obtaining permits and paying related fees
- Removing and disposing of old equipment
- Arranging for such work as installation of gas supply
- Arranging necessary inspections
- A work schedule and completion date
- Guarantees, warranties and service contracts
- Terms of payment
- Evidence of registration with the Technical Standards and Safety Authority, the Association of Wood Energy Technicians of Ontario (the ODP card) and/or an electrician's licence as appropriate
Use costs (both installed and operating), work schedule, warranties and service as the basis for your decision.
Ask the contractors you are considering for references, and follow up by contacting previous customers. Ask what they think about the contractor, fuel supplier and the options you are considering.
In order to correctly size new heating and cooling equipment, your contractor must analyze how much heat is lost from your home in winter and gained in summer. Ask for this heat loss/gain analysis in writing, including the method used to perform the calculation. This calculation should take into consideration such factors as the size of the house, its level of insulation and the condition of windows and doors. If the heat loss and gain is significant and you haven't already taken steps to increase the energy efficiency of the house, now is the time to do it.
Avoid the temptation to simply choose the same size equipment that already exists in your house without doing a heat loss/gain analysis. Your home has likely been altered over the years and the system might even have been the wrong size at the start. An oversized unit will usually operate below peak efficiency, and both oversized and undersized units can adversely affect the comfort of your home.
Any installation involving combustion equipment should include steps to ensure that there will be an adequate supply of air for combustion and venting, and that other air exhausting equipment will not cause problems.
If you are installing an air source heat pump, keep in mind that Ontario homes have heavier heating than cooling demands. The rule is to size the heat pump based on cooling rather than heating needs so that it isn't oversized for the cooling job it has to do.
This information is provided as a public service, but we cannot guarantee that the information is current or accurate.
Readers should verify the information before acting on it.