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Most new homes use natural gas or propane for space heating and domestic hot water. But few residential builders realize that gas can also be used as a fuel for air conditioning. Although residential gas-fired air conditioners make up only a tiny percentage of the market, interest in them is increasing, especially in California, where power shortages are spurring attempts to reduce electrical demand. Gas-fired air conditioning is not a new technology. The heyday of gas-fired chillers was in the 1960s, when appliance manufacturers, including Whirlpool and Bryant, sold 75,000 units a year. But in the late 1960s, natural gas shortages led to a moratorium on residential gas hookups, and the industry all but died. Now there is only