Industry seals and organizations are a way to verify the quality of a heating and cooling contractor. Certain seals indicate that their employees have passed detailed HVAC certification requirements; seals on products such as the Energy Star® seal means high efficiency; associations such as ASHRAE, ACCA and others mean that your contractor has access to a network of thousands of other contractors which helps insure they are up on the latest HVAC technical trends.
Below are some of the seals and organizations and what they mean. This is by far not a complete list, but covers some of the "heavy hitters" that you should definitely look for.
North American Technician Excellence - NATE
NATE is an independent, third-party certification body for HVAC/R technicians. NATE tests technicians; others train. Testing validates the technician's knowledge and a training program's instruction. NATE-approved testing organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada offer NATE tests. Candidates can earn installation and/or service certification in five specialty areas: air-conditioning, air distribution, heat pumps, gas heating & oil heating.
The entire HVAC/R industry supports NATE: manufacturers, utilities, wholesalers, educators, technicians, contractors and trade associations. The NATE coalition includes:
- Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA);
- Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI);
- American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE);
- Building Performance Institute (BPI);
- Eastern Heating & Cooling Council (EHCC);
- Edison Electric Institute (EEI);
- Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI);
- Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA);
- Heating, Airconditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI);
- Hydronics Industry Alliance (HIA);
- National Energy Management Institute (NEMI, an organization representing Sheet Metal Contractors and Sheet Metal Workers);
- Plumbing-Heating-Cooling-Contractors--National Association (PHCC--NA);
- Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES);
- Service Roundtable;
- Skills USA;
- Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); and
- the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Consumer Reports said, "Itís a plus if a technician is NATE-certified." EPA tells consumers to ask if a contractorís technicians are NATE-certified. Under the Montgomery GI Bill, the Department of Veteranís Affairs (VA) reimburses veterans who take the NATE tests. The U.S. Army recognizes NATE certification for promotion points. No other certification exam enjoys this industry support.
ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.
In 1992 the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced ENERGY STAR as a voluntary labeling program designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Computers and monitors were the first labeled products. Through 1995, EPA expanded the label to additional office equipment products and residential heating and cooling equipment. In 1996, EPA partnered with the US Department of Energy for particular product categories. The ENERGY STAR label is now on major appliances, office equipment, lighting, home electronics, and more. EPA has also extended the label to cover new homes and commercial and industrial buildings.
Through its partnerships with more than 12,000 private and public sector organizations, ENERGY STAR delivers the technical information and tools that organizations and consumers need to choose energy-efficient solutions and best management practices. ENERGY STAR has successfully delivered energy and cost savings across the country, saving businesses, organizations, and consumers about $16 billion in 2007 alone. Over the past decade, ENERGY STAR has been a driving force behind the more widespread use of such technological innovations as efficient fluorescent lighting, power management systems for office equipment, and low standby energy use.
Recently, energy prices have become a hot news topic and a major concern for consumers. ENERGY STAR provides solutions. ENERGY STAR provides a trustworthy label on over 50 product categories (and thousands of models) for the home and office. These products deliver the same or better performance as comparable models while using less energy and saving money. ENERGY STAR also provides easy-to-use home and building assessment tools so that homeowners and building managers can start down the path to greater efficiency and cost savings.
Good House Keeping
The Good Housekeeping Research Institute (GHRI) is the product-evaluation laboratory of the magazine, with a staff of scientists, engineers, nutritionists, and researchers dedicated to evaluating and testing everything from moisturizers to bed sheets to cell phones. Also part of GHRI is the test kitchen, which creates, tastes, and triple-tests (at least) the thousands of recipes appearing in the magazine.
The Institute was founded in 1900 to improve the lives of consumers and their families through education and product evaluation. It has departments specializing in consumer electronics and engineering, to test appliances like flat-screen TVs and refrigerators; health, beauty, and environmental sciences for beauty and hair-care products; textiles, paper, and plastics, which analyzes fiber-based products like sweaters, suitcases, and backpacks; and the editorial test kitchens to assess foods' nutrition claims and create low-cost, family-friendly meal solutions.
Before Good Housekeeping accepts any advertisement from a company, GHRI reviews its products. Only those that pass the rigorous evaluation are allowed to buy advertising space in the magazine and become eligible for the Good Housekeeping Seal, which involves an even more rigorous evaluation.
The Seal has been reassuring consumers about their product-purchasing decisions for almost 100 years, and is one of the most recognized consumer emblems in the market today. When you see a product with the Good Housekeeping Seal, you can rest assured that Good Housekeeping stands behind that product, so much so that if you find a Seal-bearing product is defective within two years of purchase, it's Good Housekeeping who will refund the price paid for the product or replace it.
In addition to its work with the Seal, GHRI also uses its expertise to create the buyer's guides in "The Goods" section of the magazine every month, as well as Institute Reports that appear throughout the magazine and Website. The Institute conducts more than 2,000 evaluations each year and salutes the most innovative problem-solving products with Good Housekeeping's annual Good Buy Awards.
Air Conditioning Contractors of American - ACCA
ACCA is a group of over 4,000 air conditioning contractors who work together to improve our industry, promote good practices, and keep homes and buildings safe, clean and comfortable.
They all share one goal: to make the HVACR industry, and every professional contracting business, more successful.
How do they do it? By bringing customers together with other contractors through unique learning opportunities. They provide exclusive technical, legal, and marketing resources. They bring customers to you and they fight aggressively for your business interests in Washington, DC.
With roots stretching back nearly a century, ACCA is the only nationwide organization of, by and for the small businesses that design, install and maintain indoor environmental systems.
American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers - ASHRAE
ASHRAE, founded in 1894, is an international organization of 50,000 persons. ASHRAE fulfills its mission of advancing heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration to serve humanity and promote a sustainable world through research, standards writing, publishing and continuing education.
ASHRAE's mission is to strive to be the global leader, the foremost source of technical and educational information, and the primary provider of opportunity for professional growth in the arts and sciences of heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigerating.