ARLINGTON, Va. - The Air Conditioning Contractors of America is campaigning for a legislative program that they say would have a tremendously positive impact on the nation's economy and energy usage.

"American Living: The Campaign for Sustainable Comfort" will highlight the importance of properly sized, installed, and maintained HVAC systems and allow the industry to make a significant contribution to the energy conservation effort, ACCA officials said.

Campaign goals include:

· Giving tax credits to homeowners and building owners who replace old HVAC systems with energy-efficient models

· Letting homeowners and small-business owners take a $50 tax credit for conducting "clean and check" maintenance on an HVAC system

· Requiring a "whole-house energy audit" whenever a home or commercial building changes hands or is refinanced

· Conducting a massive public education campaign on the importance of proper selection and installation of HVAC systems as well as regularly scheduled maintenance

Reducing emissions by requiring certain refrigerants to be handled by only certified technicians.

"Currently, energy supplies are down, costs are rising, and consumers are being hit hard in the pocketbook to sustain basic energy needs within their homes," ACCA President and CEO Paul T. Stalknecht said. "With the American Living campaign, we could go a long way toward reducing the waste, cutting the drain on our nation's power grid, and dropping the pressure on American wallets. Plus, these programs would provide a huge boost to the HVAC contracting industry."

The campaign is already generating support in the nation's capital, according to ACCA officials. The following organizations have joined in endorsing the campaign: The American Petroleum Institute, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Center for Small Business & The Environment, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Institute, Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association, National Air Filtration Association, Nuclear Energy Institute, American Gas Association, and Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors National Association.

ACCA board members and chapter leaders went to Capitol Hill Oct. 2 for meetings with legislators to promote the campaign. The campaign will be funded solely by voluntary contributions, officials said.