It’s not fair, really. When your furnace or air conditioner breaks down, you must enter into a discussion about heating and cooling with an area contractor, but you’re at a disadvantage.
You’re not an expert in heating. You haven’t gone to air conditioning school. To get to the root of the repair or know exactly what features you want in your upgrade, you need to quickly enroll in an HVAC course to learn HVAC talk.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Air handler. The component of the heating and cooling system that helps move air through the ducts and into your home.
- BTU. The unit of measurement that is the amount of energy required to increase temperature. For cooling, it is the amount of heat that’s removed from the home.
- Compressor. An air conditioner and heat pump utilize a compressor to move refrigerant through the system to cool the home.
- Condenser coil. This is the outdoor coil that releases heat from refrigerant.
- Ducts. The component of the HVAC system that features flexible tubes that snake throughout the home. Through the ducts, heating and cooling is delivered to the home’s living spaces.
- Evaporator coil. This is the indoor coil that absorbs heat energy that’s inside the living spaces.
- Load calculation. An analysis of the home’s heating and cooling requirements, or how much heat the furnace is required to produce to make a comfortable home, and how much cooling and dehumidifying is required from the air conditioner.
- SEER. The seasonal energy efficiency ratio shows the cooling efficiency of an air conditioner or heat pump.
- HSPF. The heating seasonal performance factor rates the efficiency of heat pumps in heating mode.
- AFUE. The annual fuel utilization efficiency number shows the efficiency of a gas furnace, rating its effectiveness at converting gas to energy. This rating is the easiest to understand, as a 95 percent AFUE-rated furnace uses 95 percent of the fuel to generate heat energy, while losing only 5 percent up the flue, or elsewhere.
- Two-stage cooling (or heating). This type of unit can operate at two “stages” of heating or cooling. One is higher, and uses more energy, while the other is lower, and uses less energy. The unit automatically adjusts the comfort stage based on the heating and cooling requirements.
- Variable-speed motor. Much like the two-stage heating/cooling system, the variable-speed motor adjusts the capacity at which it operates, based on the load. Its advantages include temperature consistency, better dehumidification and reduced operational noise.
- Zoning. A strategy for grouping areas of the home with similar heating and cooling modes into “zones” to drive efficiency and comfort. It works in conjunction with thermostats installed in the zones and dampers installed in the ductwork, which open and close as necessary to release or prohibit the flow of conditioned air into the zones.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go back to school to have a layman’s understanding of terms so that you can speak intelligently with an HVAC contractor and navigate the basics of heating and cooling to make a wise investment. For more help with HVAC terms or just to ask a question, contact Reliable Heating and Air today!