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Proper design and installation of HVAC systems have been named among the top ten techniques for improving a home's energy efficiency and environmental performance by The Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH).

PATH identified these techniques in four categories—the building envelope, HVAC design, air sealing and landscaping—because they can "dramatically boost" a builder's ability to provide durable, energy-efficient homes that offer quality and value.

Sizing HVAC correctly will provide comfort, energy efficiency and lower equipment costs, the group states. It advocates using the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) guidelines for sizing HVAC equipment and ACCA's Manual J to estimate heating and air condition loads.

PATH also says installation of HVAC and ducts in conditioned spaces can have an important impact on a home's environmental performance. It recommends placing HVAC equipment and ductwork within the insulated, air-sealed shell of the house to cut heating/cooling costs for the average home by $200. This installation can also save on initial costs and avoid drawing dirty or mold-laden air from the attic or crawl space, the group adds. PATH recommends that homebuilders use the ACCA Manual D to design ducts for proper air distribution.

PATH is a voluntary partnership of homebuilders, manufacturers, the insurance and financial industries and representatives of Federal agencies concerned with housing.

Detailed descriptions of all "top ten" techniques are available in PATH's Technology Inventory at www.toolbase.org.