For many consumers, the term "rent" is a resoundingly negative concept.
That is why so many people prefer to own a home — and, by extension other, necessary household equipment such as hot water tanks, furnaces, even water purification systems. There’s a pride of ownership that comes with purchasing those items; they’re "yours."
However, what if someone told you that renting a furnace, hot water tank — and, now an HRV (heating recovery ventilation) system — actually made more sense? According to Dave Kenny, general manager for Reliance Superior Heating and Cooling (Manitoba), it does.
"We’ve been offering equipment rentals since 2007 and now have over 10,000 homeowners renting various types of equipment," he says. "Fifty per cent of the people who do it do it because it’s financially advantageous. The other 50 per cent do it because it gives them peace of mind, as there’s really nothing to think (or worry) about when you rent."
Nine years ago, those rentals involved mainly hot water tanks. Now, the list includes HVACS, HRVs, furnaces, water softener/treatment systems and other drinking water systems. Kenny says that he and his team at Reliance Superior have been busy over the past nine years dispelling rental myths.
"The first myth is that rental is only for people who don’t have money, which isn’t true," he says. "Secondly, buying a furnace, for example, isn’t an investment. A new furnace will depreciate at about six per cent per year, so as the years go on and it begins to break down, it’s really more of a liability. It’s just not a good investment."
Third, there’s the myth that in the long run, owning is cheaper than renting. While that might be true with a good car, the same can’t be said about a furnace.
"The typical life span for a furnace — if you’re fortunate — is approximately 15 years. Here’s where the third myth, the true cost of ownership is exposed. The truth of the matter is that a furnace is more than an initial cost — there’s a lifetime cost associated with owning it."
In a nutshell, over a 15-year span — where a homeowner buys a new furnace to replace the worn-out old model — cost of renting (at $89.99 per month) comes out at $16,770, while the cost of owning a furnace, maintaining it — and then replacing it — comes out at $22,314.
While admitting this scenario is hypothetical Kenny says it is a pretty accurate representation of reality.
"Realistically, the best way to get the most value possible for the least amount of money is to rent," he says. "If something goes wrong — say your furnace breaks down at the 10-year mark — you just replace it. The important thing to note that is that if you buy another furnace after 10 or 15 years, the cycle of expenses starts all over again."
The point here, says Kenny, is that Reliance Superior owns the furnace (hot water tank, HRV, etc.), not you.
"Because we own the equipment, we will call you once a year to come out and due a tune-up and inspection to ensure that piece of equipment lasts as long as possible. It’s in our best interest to do that because we own it."
And no matter whether you rent or own, that maintenance is critical, he adds.
"When not properly maintained, even the best furnace on the market will fail, bringing the scenario of premature replacement into play. And if furnaces and other pieces of equipment aren’t maintained on an annual basis, they will lose their warranty. Forgoing yearly maintenance puts your warranty at risk, meaning there’s a good possibility if, say, your furnace fails."
There’s another benefit associated with equipment rental, Kenny says.
"Say you want to upgrade your furnace at the seven-year mark. You can do it with no additional fee because the rental is an open agreement. You can also upgrade to top-of-the-line equipment for just a few more dollars a month, giving you access to higher-quality equipment for a cost far lower than buying it."
Renting a key piece of equipment can also help address health concerns. For example, while most new homes come with HRVs, they can now be added to an older, existing furnace by connecting it straight to the return air duct.
"Indoor air quality is a real concern, but often a latent one. An HRV is really about fresh air — about exchanging air so fresh air is constantly being brought into a home. An HRV added to an existing furnace will pull air from the whole house, while one on a new, state-of-the-art furnace will pull from wet rooms (bathroom, kitchen, laundry room). In either case, the health benefits can be significant."
Just as renting can be beneficial, as well.
"Rent is not a four-letter word," Kenny says. "It’s really a great value proposition, where the company (Reliance) takes the risk, not you. Give it a try. You may find the benefits — both financial, and from a health standpoint — are profound."