Making informed purchasing decisions and getting the best performance from your home comfort system is easier when you know the common terms.
AHRI (Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute)
AHRI is an abbreviation for the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, a trade association that develops standards for measuring and certifying product performance. AHRI standards and guidelines are used throughout the world. Equipment with the AHRI Certified® mark has AHRI’s assurance that it will perform accurately and consistently.
An air handler, or air handling unit, is the indoor part of an air conditioner or heat pump that moves cooled or heated air throughout the ductwork of your home.
Bioaerosols, or biological aerosols, are tiny airborne particles that are biological in nature. High concentrations of bioaerosols in indoor air can lead to respiratory problems and disease. Maintaining proper home humidity levels and installing advanced filtration devices can help reduce bioaerosols and maintain a healthy environment.
British Thermal Unit (BTU)
A measurement of heat energy. One Btu is the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. The higher the Btu rating, the greater the heating capacity of the system.
British Thermal Unit Per Hour (BTUh)
British thermal units per hour.
Carbon Monoxide (CO)
Carbon monoxide (sometimes referred to by its chemical abbreviation, CO) is an odorless, colorless, tasteless and poisonous gas that’s produced when fuels such as natural gas burn with insufficient air. When carbon monoxide leaks into your home’s air, it can lead to serious health problems for your family. Regular maintenance of your home’s heating and ventilation system will help ensure it’s not a source of a carbon monoxide leak.
Central air conditioning (or central A/C) is a system in which air is cooled at a central location and distributed to and from rooms by one or more fans and ductwork.
There are typically two HVAC coils in a system—the condenser coil in the outside air conditioning condenser unit and the evaporator coil in the indoor unit. The coils are what increase or decrease the temperature via heat transfer.
An AC or heat pump compressor is the part of an outdoor air conditioner or heat pump that compresses and pumps refrigerant to meet household cooling requirements.
A condenser (or AC condenser) is the outdoor portion of an air conditioner or heat pump that either releases or collects heat, depending on the time of the year.
Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM)
Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM) is a measurement of airflow volume, determined by how many cubic feet of air pass by a stationary point in one minute. Having an accurate estimate of your home’s CFM is key to choosing an HVAC system with the right capacity for your space and needs.
A decibel (dB) is a unit used to measure the relative intensity of sound. For example, sound levels in a library are normally about 40 dB, normal conversations range from about 50 to 60 dB, and an operating motorcycle or garbage truck can be as high as 100 dB.
Department Of Energy (DOE)
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is a federal agency responsible for monitoring the consumption of energy sources and setting industry efficiency standards for all heating and cooling units manufactured in the U.S.
Ductwork refers to the system of ducts (metal or synthetic tubes) used to transport air from your AC equipment throughout your home. Properly installed and well-maintained air ducts are a key component of indoor air quality and home comfort.
Electronic Air Cleaner
Electronic air cleaners, sometimes referred to as ionizers or electronic air purifiers, use electrically charged filters to reduce the number of airborne contaminants in your home. As air passes through your heating and cooling system, the cleaner uses electrically charged filters to attract and trap harmful particles to prevent them from recirculating through your home.
Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)
The ratio of cooling capacity to the power input (in watts). The higher the EER rating, the more efficient the air conditioner.
ENERGY STAR® is a program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designed to help consumers and businesses save money by choosing energy-efficient products and technologies. AC equipment with the ENERGY STAR® label meets or exceeds federal guidelines for energy-efficient performance.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a federal agency that develops and enforces federal environmental regulations and oversees the nationwide ENERGY STAR® program.
The part of an air conditioner or heat pump that absorbs the heat from the air in your house. It is located inside the air handler or attached to the furnace.
A heat exchanger is a heating component that is located in the furnace and transfers heat to the surrounding air, which is then pumped throughout the home.
A heat pump is an AC unit that heats or cools by moving heat. During the winter, a heat pump draws heat from outdoor air and circulates it through a home’s air ducts. In the summer, it reverses the process and removes heat from the house and releases it outdoors.
Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF)
The heating efficiency rating for heat pumps. The higher the rating, the more efficient the heat pump.
A humidifier is a device that adds moisture to indoor air in a single room or throughout an entire house. Whole-home humidifiers may use the fan in your furnace or air handler to blow humidified air throughout the ductwork, or they may work independently of your heating and cooling system to maintain humidity levels even when the furnace or air handler isn’t operating.
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.
HVAC Zoning System
An HVAC zoning system (also referred to as “zoned HVAC”) is a heating and cooling system that uses dampers in the ductwork to regulate and redirect air to specific areas of the home. This allows for the creation of customized temperature zones throughout the home for increased comfort and efficiency.
See Evaporator Coil.
The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating is used to rank the efficiency of air filters. Every air filter has holes that allow air and particles to pass through. The smaller the holes, the fewer particles that can pass through. Higher MERV ratings indicate smaller holes, and therefore a more efficient filter.
A unit of measure equal to one millionth of a meter, or 1/25,000 of an inch. Airborne particles – such as dust, dander, mold and viruses – are measured in microns. These tiny particles can circulate in your home’s air and have harmful effects on your family’s health and comfort.
North American Technician Excellence (NATE) conducts rigorous, independent testing verifying the real-world knowledge and application of HVAC technicians and installers.
Heating and cooling systems contained in one outdoor unit.
Particles are tiny substances measuring less than 100 microns in diameter. Indoor air can be filled with particles, some of which can be seen with the naked eye, such as dust and dirt. Others can only be seen with a microscope, such as bacteria and viruses, which typically measure only one micron or smaller in diameter. All of these airborne particles can have significant impacts on your family’s health and comfort.
A programmable thermostat is a thermostat with the ability to adjust home heating and cooling equipment according to a pre-set schedule. For instance, a programmable thermostat could be set to maintain a home temperature of 72 degrees throughout the day, and 65 degrees from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. every night.
The old standard for residential air conditioners, now being phased out by the U.S. EPA
A chlorine-free refrigerant that meets the U.S. EPA’s newest, most stringent environmental guidelines.
A chemical that produces a cooling effect while expanding or vaporizing. Most residential air-conditioning units contain the standard R-410A refrigerant, or freon.
Two copper lines that connect the outdoor air conditioner or heat pump to the indoor evaporator coil.
A specially designed compressor that works in a circular motion, as opposed to up-and-down piston action.
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER)
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is an energy efficiency rating for air conditioners. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the unit.
Split System HVAC
A heating and cooling system that includes an indoor unit, outdoor unit and a thermostat.
A thermostat is a device that monitors the indoor temperature and automatically adjusts your heating or cooling system to maintain the desired level.
Unit of measurement for determining cooling capacity. One ton equals 12,000 Btuh.
Provides two levels of heating or cooling output for enhanced temperature control, energy efficiency and indoor air quality.
Variable Speed Motor
A motor that operates at a wide range of speeds to precisely control the distribution of heated and cooled air throughout the home.
A ventilator is a device that replaces the stale, recirculated air inside your home with fresh, filtered outdoor air. An energy recovery ventilator (ERV) is ideal for warm and humid climates, since it cools and dehumidifies the incoming outdoor air. A heat recovery ventilator (HRV) is more appropriate for colder climates, as it transfers heat from recirculated air to the fresh incoming air.