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7 HVAC Terms Every Homeowner Should Know

  • July 12, 2013

If you’re confused by terms your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor uses, you’re not alone. It’s a jargon-filled industry that takes a quick briefing to understand fully. Here are the top seven most important HVAC terms every homeowner should know.

  • SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio): This rating is given to air conditioners and heat pumps to measure cooling efficiency. It’s a ratio of how much heat the system can remove from the air while consuming a certain amount of electricity in the process. The higher the number, the more efficient the equipment is. The minimum SEER rating allowed today is 13, but look for at least a 16 SEER, Energy Star-qualified unit for lower energy bills.
  • HSPF (Heating Season Performance Factor): This rating is given to heat pumps to measure heating efficiency. It’s a ratio of how much heat the system can add to the home while consuming a certain amount of electricity in the process. Higher numbers indicate greater efficiency. Look for 8 HSPF or higher to enjoy more efficient heating.
  • Refrigerant: This is a fluid running through air conditioners and heat pumps that absorbs heat and releases it elsewhere. R-22 refrigerant, also called Freon, is being phased out because it contains the environmentally hazardous chemical chlorine. Modern air conditioners and heat pumps use R-410A, or Puron, as an environmentally friendlier alternative.
  • Zoning: Using multiple thermostats allows you to divide your home into “zones” to heat and cool spaces independently.
  • Sizing: Equipment size is based on heating and cooling load calculations. Sizing is determined using Manual J, an important document for achieving optimal comfort and efficiency.
  • Humidity HVAC terms: In the summer, excess humidity can cause moisture damage and mold growth. A dehumidifier keeps excess humidity under control.
  • Affiliations to know: You might hear the HVAC terms NATE (North American Technician Excellence) and ACCA (Air Conditioning Contractors of America) thrown around in the industry. Look for both of these affiliations when choosing an HVAC contractor to ensure your satisfaction.

For definitions to other HVAC terms, or answers to other heating and cooling questions, please contact us at Comfort Services today.