Recent survey finds that homeowners would purchase upgrades to their HVAC system if they knew their options.

ST. LOUIS - Many homeowners are unfamiliar with the SEER rating system and are neglecting professional inspections for their air-conditioning systems, according to the 2004 Home Air Conditioning Test Survey.

The independent telephone survey of 427 U.S. homeowners with central air conditioning was commissioned by Emerson Climate Technologies and conducted in April by Opinion Research Corp.

Among the findings:

    • About 77 percent of Americans with central air conditioning say they have never heard of the federally mandated seasonal energy-efficiency ratio or SEER program.

    • More than a third of homeowners indicated they did not have their home's central air conditioner inspected or serviced in the past year, and the same percentage say they won't this year.

    • About 43 percent of respondents said they would consider installing a programmable thermostat.

    • Another 49 percent with central air conditioning are likely to consider installing or using more ceiling fans.

    • Nearly half of homeowners with central air conditioning say they are likely to consider doing something to help control energy costs this summer and beyond.

      Scott Barbour, president of Emerson's Copeland Corp. air-conditioning division, said the survey shows HVAC contractors have a chance to educate the public and increase sales.

      "The results of the survey show that homeowners are not very educated on energy-efficiency issues and technologies. This presents a tremendous opportunity for contractors to enhance their relationships with their customers and help them become smarter energy consumers," said Barbour.