CINCINNATI, OH — Household utility bills are expected to rise more than 50 percent compared to last winter. The U.S. government said it expects a spike because of surging prices for heating oil, natural gas and other fuels worldwide.
But those prices could be cheap compared to a heating system going out.
Every aspect of the heating and cooling industry – from the supplies to the labor needed to fix your furnace or air conditioner – is in short supply. And things may not get better for a while, so a major part of this is making sure your home is in good shape.
Experts told WCPO 9 the biggest key and first step is keeping cool air out at all costs. That means checking for gaps or leaks around the edges of your windows, making sure the seals aren't damaged and applying caulk if necessary. The same goes for all of your doors and ductwork in your attic, basement and crawlspaces. And to keep systems from failing, pipes should be insulated and filters changed when it's time. It sounds basic, but a local air quality expert explained the supply chain issues plaguing industries across the board are hitting home heating and cooling hard as well. That means repairs or replacements could take longer.
"Everybody's seeing the automotive impact with the chips. Well, those chips are similar to those in our HVAC system." AdvantaClean owner Jason Hettinger explained. "They're all computerized control, and it's making it more challenging to actually get that equipment and get it here and get it installed in an appropriate time."
How long could it take to replace a unit? Hettinger said on the commercial side, he's seen wait times increase anywhere from six to 12 weeks, so he's asked people to heed his warning and prepare your home now.
"The older units don't have that technology in it, but also those older units, people aren't making spare parts for them as often," Hettinger said. "So, if it's a really old unit, you may not be able to get parts at all. I mean, you're in a catch-22 with the situation right now. Supply chains are definitely maxed out."