HVAC Terms to Help You Understand Your System

For most of us, the HVAC installation in our homes represents the single greatest investment we make aside from the house itself. It’s important to know at least the basic HVAC terms specific to your system; this will improve your ability to communicate with your contractor when an emergency or maintenance call becomes necessary.

Here in the greater Cleveland area, where we run our equipment most months of the year — either heating or cooling — it’s also important to understand some terms that describe efficiency, especially when facing replacement or repairs.HVAC Terms That Can Give You a Better Understanding of Your System

Understanding the Acronyms

  • HVAC. First, the big one: Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.
  • AFUE. Annualized Fuel Utilization Efficiency measures your furnace’s heating efficiency (the higher your AFUE percentage, the more efficiently your furnace uses fuel).
  • CFM. Cubic Feet per Minute measures the volume of treated air, in cubic feet, that’s supplied to your living space in a typical minute of operation (the higher the number, the greater the volume of air delivered).
  • HSPF. Heating Seasonal Performance Factor measures the heating efficiency of heat pumps (the better — higher — the rating, the better the heat pump’s efficiency).

Component Parts

  • Air Handler. Sometimes also called the blower, this component moves cooled or heated air throughout your ductwork. Typically located indoors.
  • Compressor. Compresses refrigerant, then pumps it back to interior components. Usually located outdoors.
  • Condenser Coil. Also sometimes called the “Outdoor Coil,” this is part of the large, “radiator” finned component that releases the heat removed from indoors, dissipating it into the atmosphere.
  • Ductwork. Typically either rigid metal box-like tubing, or concertina-style insulated trunking, threaded throughout the house to distribute treated air.
  • Evaporator Coil. Sometimes also called the “Indoor Coil,” this counterpart to the compressor allows the refrigerant to expand; in doing so, it collects heat to be taken outside, where it’s lost to the atmosphere.

Further Information

Of course, there’s a great deal more to know about HVAC terms, and your installation as a whole. Homeowners in the Cleveland, Elyria, Lorain, Oberlin and Medina areas can all contact their local Geisel office with any further queries, or to arrange a free in-home consultation.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Cleveland, Ohio 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.

For those Do it Yourselfers who would rather take control of your own indoor comfort, you can shop our online store for replacement parts, products and accessories!  

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