Home Performance and HVAC Contractors: Recent Legislative Initiative In Texas

As energy auditors and raters went about their business of testing homes, performing energy audits and HVAC system inspections, they discovered and reported certain “problems” to the homeowners of Texas. For example, they reported that HVAC systems were oversized, or suffering from massive duct leakage! In late 2011, The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), which oversees the HVAC industry, started getting complaints from contractors about these new energy auditors doing work that was thought to be the sole preserve of licensed air conditioning contractors.  

A workgroup comprised of the TDLR HVAC Contractor Advisory Board looked into the question: “What constitutes HVAC work and services that can only be performed by licensed contractors in Texas?” They concluded that per Texas law, testing for duct leakage, testing total external static pressure, providing information on sealing leaky ducts, advising homeowners on issues like return grille sizing, and even suggesting what SEER, AFUE or HSPF to select were all work that could only be performed by licensed HVAC contractors.  

Energy auditors and home performance contractors had no legal status in Texas, as is the case in most states now. The certified energy professionals in the state as represented by Texas Home Energy Raters Organization (TX HERO) worked together with the Texas Air Conditioning Contractors Association (TX-ACCA) and the state legislature to write a bill that would recognize energy professionals and give them a legal status or “standing under the law” to continue working under current regulations. After months of negotiations, a bill emerged that would have allowed people currently holding a certification by a national or state accrediting body recognized by the TDLR to continue to do all of the current scope of work provided that they achieve an HVAC endorsement by completing a 60-hour HVAC course.  

The curriculum of said course(s) would have been reviewed and approved by the TDLR and would include a long list of relevant HVAC design topics including ACCA Manuals J, S, D, T, the HVAC refrigeration cycle, basics of duct design, and much more. It was understood that this was a starting point and that the knowledge base necessary to maintain this HVAC endorsement for energy professionals could be raised incrementally in years to come. This seemed acceptable to all parties and things looked good. No one got everything they wanted, but everyone got much of what they needed.  This is the essence of the legislative process in a democracy. You may remember that the great Mick Jaeger taught us this truth about life in general a long time ago.  

The bill would have allowed homeowners and builders to continue to hire and be advised by energy professionals who were independent of any associations or loyalties except to them as the client.  Energy professionals would have to register, take a class, and pass a test to demonstrate HVAC proficiency. It established a “standing under the law” for energy professionals, a framework within which they could operate legitimate businesses and continue to provide their services.   

Then the legislative process got in the way. Since this bill would have required a small increase in staff at TDLR and some new regulations, it was killed. The bill did not get out of the Calendars Committee in time to reach the floor for a vote. I’ve been told by representatives of both TX-ACCA and TX-HERO that there is no doubt that the bill would have passed if it had made it to the floor and been given a vote.  

Now we can only wait and see how the TDLR responds and what actions it chooses to take. They could choose to follow a path of benign neglect and wait for the next legislative session in two years and let the legislative process work. They could come down hard and hand out substantial fines to anyone who engages in HVAC design work without the proper license. They could have a rule making and choose to accept those certified energy professionals who already have certifications in HVAC. Some possibilities that have been mentioned include, NATE, NCI, BPI (Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Professional), and ACCA certifications. Only time will tell.


- Doug Garret

Doug Garrett, CEM, is president of Building Performance & Comfort, Inc

This blog originally appeared on HomeEnergy.org.


Views: 750


You need to be a member of Home Energy Pros to add comments!

Join Home Energy Pros

Comment by dale conner on January 23, 2014 at 9:39pm

Scott, ACCA manual S addresses that question at length

Comment by Scott Jarman on December 30, 2013 at 1:01pm

Doug, do you have an opinion or can point to any studies saying oversizing by a 1/2 ton for a variable or two speed uint is good? 

Comment by Armando Cobo on June 24, 2013 at 8:00am

Doug, Thanks for keeping us informed on this issue. I do think this is laughable, like the fox guarding the hen house. Almost all HVAC contractors do not design, install and commission residential systems because don’t know how or refuse to do so. Almost all HVAC  contractors install 2-4 times the equipment needed in homes, specially a high performing house, where at least here in DFW, no one what to even go there. ACCA is just now looking to develop guidelines for high performing houses, till then we have to deal with substandard work. Shame on the politics of it, the consumer (voters) are the ones getting screwed!!!


  • Add Videos
  • View All


Latest Activity

Sam Goode is now a member of Home Energy Pros
46 minutes ago
Tina Gleisner commented on Tom White's video

How to Insulate a Tiny House (or a Big Fat House)

"Really like how Corbett tells his story in a simple manner that homeowners should be able to…"
3 hours ago
Tom Mallard commented on Tom White's video

How to Insulate a Tiny House (or a Big Fat House)

"So consider the conduction paths of studs-rafters show quite clearly, to counter this requires…"
4 hours ago
Davide Lanzoni commented on Tom White's video

How to Insulate a Tiny House (or a Big Fat House)

"Very cool the thermal tuning with body in white and glasses in black !"
5 hours ago
Quinn Korzeniecki posted a discussion

Applications for Jon Siemen Scholarship Due by 11/31

Thinking of obtaining a BPI Quality Control Inspector (QCI), Energy Auditor (EA), Crew Leader, or…See More
5 hours ago
Benny hani replied to Benny hani's discussion Manual J online
"Thanks Bob"
Benny hani replied to Benny hani's discussion Manual J online
"Thank you Isaac"
Bob Blanchette commented on Amber Vignieri's blog post Even with Polar Vortex, Hourly Pricing Participants Saved
"Looks like the days of paying a fixed amount per KWh are rapidly coming to an end. Many utilities…"

© 2016   Created by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service