Timing Home Improvement to Save Money

By: Allison Millar, Contributing Writer
In: Product review
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Timing is everything, especially in home improvement. Pick the wrong time to shop for a new air conditioner or furnace and you could spend an extra $2,000 or so because demand is high. Look for a plumbing contractor when everyone’s basement is flooding and the cost could hurt!

Supply and demand pays a big part in home improvement pricing. Here are some timing tips that can work to your advantage.

  • Buy off season. Sounds obvious, but many people want it fixed NOW. A heating and cooling contractor is busiest during the middle of winter and summer, so wait until early September before buying a furnace and until March for the air conditioner.
  • Consider last year’s model. Most major appliances change little from one year to the next. When buying a furnace, try last year’s model and save $500 or so.
  • Buy bells and whistles carefully. A furnace that is 95 percent efficient is not always a necessity, particularly if it costs $2,000 more than the 92 percent efficient model.
  • Avoid overtime. If you’ve ever had a plumbing contractor walk through the door at midnight you know what “time and a half” means. If your toilet leak is not really an emergency, find the shut off value to the toilet and wait it out. Also, compare whether an hourly rate or flat fee is best. Here’s how that works, according to Evan Conklin Plumbing & Heating.
  • Ask about discounts. Many companies offer coupons or run specials. Is it cheaper (for both parts and labor) to buy a furnace and air conditioner at the same time?
  • Do you need it now? Sometimes poor insulation and other factors can eliminate the need for a new furnace or at least delay the cost, according to Bankrate.com.
  • Focus on energy efficiency. Don’t forget the cost of running the equipment. Here’s a handy brochure from Energy Star.
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