The efficiency of an air conditioner is determined by more than just the efficiency rating of the outdoor condenser. It is highly dependent on the quality of the installation and the efficiency of the distribution or duct system.

Federal law sets the minimum efficiency levels for the outdoor portion of the air conditioning and heating systems, but there are no laws or codes that address how the technician actually designs, installs or commissions the system.

Traditional wisdom in Texas holds that an air conditioner cannot be too big. But the conventional wisdom is wrong. Knowledgeable air conditioning people know that most air conditioners are significantly oversized, and this leads to high inside humidity levels contributing to mold growth. The recent explosion of mold-related problems has brought this fact to the attention of the industry and resulted in a renewed emphasis on correct sizing to maximize moisture removal, thus improving both comfort and healthfulness in the home or building.

A properly sized air conditioner saves the builder money by reducing first costs. It saves the homeowner or commercial owner money by lowering their electric bills for the life of the system. Unfortunately, proper sizing is left to each firm and manufacturer. Currently, there are no mandated training, education or licensing requirements for air conditioning technicians in Texas. The air conditioning industry itself has recognized the need for placing greater emphasis on the design and installation aspects of its industry. To this end, the industry has established several voluntary testing and certification programs to educate and certify a technician’s knowledge in over a dozen fields including codes, sizing, proper installation, problem diagnosis and repair. More information can also be found on the Department of Energy’s website www.energystar.gov.

The North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification program is the largest and most well recognized effort of this type in the nation. The Air Conditioning Contractors of America supports the NATE certification program. By encouraging further acceptance of these voluntary programs or by actually recognizing them as a component within the licensing of technicians, the level of skills brought to each Texas consumer would be raised.