Getting to Know Your HVAC System

Need a little help deciphering different heating and air conditioning terms? Here are some key terms you should know if you are getting your HVAC equipment serviced, repaired or installed.

Glossary of HVAC Terms

Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. The AFUE percentage tells you how much energy is being converted to heat. The higher the number, the greater the efficiency.

British Thermal Units. The amount of heat it takes to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. The higher the BTU rating, the larger the heating capacity of the furnace or air conditioner.

The ability of a heating or cooling system to heat or cool a given amount of space. Heating is usually expressed in BTUs; cooling is expressed in tons.

The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) puts heating and cooling equipment through rigorous certification processes to ensure systems deliver the promised performance at certain test conditions.

A type of furnace that takes cool air from the top and blows warm air to the bottom.

Broan's designation of green heating and cooling equipment.

A type of furnace, installed on its side, which draws air from one side, heats the air and then sends it out the other side.

Heating Seasonal Performance Factor. Measures the heating efficiency of a heat pump. The higher the number, the more efficient the heat pump heats your home.

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.

A chemical that cools air as it evaporates.

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. SEER measures a unit's cooling efficiency. The higher the number, the greater the efficiency.

A ton of air conditioning refers to capacity in relation to melting one ton of ice in 24 hours. The capacity is measured in British Thermal Units (Btu); 288,000 Btu are required to melt one ton of ice in 24 hours (or 12,000 Btu/hr). A 2-ton air conditioner has a nominal capacity of about 24,000 Btu/ht.

A type of furnace that draws cool air from the bottom and blows the warmed air out of the top.

Zoning allows you to control the heating and cooling delivered to specific areas of your house for a custom solution. Zoning can increase efficiency and comfort in the area of the house you use most often.

Parts of Your HVAC System

The portion of your heating and cooling system that forces air through your home's ductwork.

The motor/pump that drives the air conditioning unit. It is responsible for pumping refrigerant throughout the system.

Part of the outdoor portion of a heating or cooling system, which releases or collects heat from the outside air.

A valve or movable plate used in ductwork that opens and closes to control airflow. They are used to direct air to specific areas of the home.

Hollow metal pipes used to transfer air throughout your house.

An electronic device that filters out particles and contaminants in indoor air.

Part of the heating or cooling system located indoors that cools and dehumidifies the air by converting liquid refrigerant into gas.

The major part of the furnace that transfers heat into your home.

A unit that handles both heating and cooling. In some climates, a heat pump may handle your heating and cooling needs more efficiently than a furnace and air conditioner.

A piece of equipment that adds moisture to the air as it comes out of the furnace.

An outdoor unit that contains both a heating and a cooling system.

Refers to an air conditioner or heat pump that is combined with indoor components, such as an evaporator coil inside and a condenser coil outside your home.

A device that monitors and controls your temperature inside your home.

A ventilator captures heating or cooling energy from stale indoor air and transfers it to fresh incoming air.