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Top HVAC Terms for the Savvy Homeowner to Know

Top HVAC Terms for the Savvy Homeowner to KnowHeat exchanger, R-values, CFM and AFUE – what do all of these HVAC terms mean? Learning the terms and acronyms that heating and cooling professionals use will help you communicate better with your HVAC contractor and gain a better understanding about products and their efficiency.

Common HVAC Terms

  • AFUE: Acronym for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, which show how efficiently a furnace converts fuel into heat. For example, an AFUE 90 percent furnace will only waste 10 percent of the fuel while heating your home.
  • Air handler: The indoor part of a split-system heat pump or A/C that moves air across the coils and through a home’s ducts. In a home with a furnace, the evaporator coil is usually attached to the furnace blower, which serves as the air handler.
  • Btu: Acronym for British Thermal Units. The term “Btu/h” refers to British thermal units per hour.
  • CFM: Acronym for cubic feet per minute, showing how much air a system can move under certain conditions.
  • Compressor: The outside part of a heat pump or A/C that pumps and compresses the refrigerant in the system. In a split system, it’s located in the outside cabinet with the condenser coil.
  • Condenser coil (outdoor coil): The part of an A/C that releases heat in the outdoor portion of the split system.
  • DOE: Acronym for the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Dual fuel: A system that uses a gas furnace as a back-up to an electric heat pump during excessively cold weather.
  • Evaporator coil (indoor coil): The refrigerant-filled coil in an A/C or heat pump that absorbs heat from the air inside a building during the cooling process.
  • Heat exchanger: The part of a furnace that transfers heat from the combustion process into nearby air.
  • Heat pump: A type of HVAC system that transfers heat inside and outside a home for efficient heating and cooling. When cooling, it operates the same way as an A/C.
  • HSPF: Acronym for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, which describes the heating efficiency of a heat pump.
  • Refrigerant: The chemical solution in an HVAC system that enables the essential heat-exchange process..
  • SEER: Acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which describes the cooling efficiency of air conditioners and heat pumps.

If you ever any further questions about what HVAC terms mean, please contact our experts at Donald P. Dick Air Conditioning. We’ve been serving the Fresno area for 40 years.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Fresno, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about HVAC terms and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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