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Common HVAC Terms and What They Mean

If you’ve ever had an HVAC technician out to your home and felt like he or she was speaking another language when talking about your system or service, you are not alone! The HVAC industry is filled with special acronyms and parts names which we tend to use in everyday language, sometimes forgetting not everyone is as familiar with these terms as we are. To help you better understand heating and cooling lingo, Douglas Cooling & Heating defines common HVAC terms so you know what your tech is saying!

Common HVAC Terms to Know

This glossary should help you decode common heating and air conditioning system terms and gain a clear understanding of what these words mean. If you have any questions, always feel free to ask your technician!

AFUE: AFUE stands for annual fuel utilization efficiency. It’s the acronym we use to show a furnace or boiler’s energy efficiency. 80% AFUE is the minimum system efficiency you can purchase, but high-efficiency systems go upwards of 95% AFUE. If a system has 80% AFUE, it converts 80% of the fuel it consumes into heat for your house.

SEER: SEER stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio, which is the acronym we use to show an air conditioner’s energy efficiency and a heat pump’s cooling efficiency. The lowest SEER available for systems in Alabama is 14 SEER, but high-efficiency cooling units have SEER ratings up into the mid-20s.

HSPF: HSPF stands for heating seasonal performance factor, and it’s the acronym we use to show a heat pump’s heating efficiency. Currently, the minimum HSPF available is 8.2.

NATE: Rounding out the acronyms portion is the term NATE, which stands for North American Technician Excellence. NATE is an independent certifying organization for our industry which provides technician testing for a variety of HVAC topics.

Air handler: An air handler is the indoor unit which is part of a heat pump system. This unit contains the blower and evaporator coils.

Coils: Central air conditioning systems and heat pumps operate using two different coils: the indoor evaporator coil and the outdoor condenser coil. The purpose of these coils is to absorb and release heat for the cooling process, as well as the heat pump’s heating process.

Compressor: The compressor is a component in the outdoor portion of an air conditioner or heat pump that compresses refrigerant and pumps it through the system.

Horizontal flow: This is one of our common HVAC terms that describes an indoor furnace or air handling unit that sits on its side, drawing air in on one side and sending conditioned air out the other. This configuration is commonly used for attic or crawlspace installations.

Vertical flow: A vertical flow furnace or air handler stands top to bottom, receiving return air on one end and sending out conditioned air on the other. This configuration can be used for installation where vertical space is not limited.

Zoning system: A zoning system can be installed with a new HVAC system or retrofit to work with an existing system. It includes dampers that fit inside ducts, thermostats installed in various areas of the home, and a zone control panel installed with the HVAC unit. Zoning systems allow homeowners to set varying temperatures in different areas of the home based on needs and preferences. The single HVAC system can meet these differing needs without affecting temperatures elsewhere in the house.

Contact Douglas Cooling & Heating for HVAC Help in Birmingham Today

Now that you’re familiar with common HVAC terms, you’re ready for any conversation about your heating and cooling system! That being said, there’s no better time than today to schedule an appointment for maintenance or repairs, or to receive an estimate for new system replacement. Whatever HVAC services you need at home, call Douglas Cooling & Heating today.

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