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Posted 11/15/2017

Educate yourself about HVAC terminology

Educate yourself about HVAC terminology

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. This field particularly deals with the heating and cooling needs of your household. It deals with equipment such as air conditioners, furnace heaters, water boilers, heat pumps, ventilation and air quality. HVAC systems are meant to maintain internal temperatures and humidity levels at a comfortable level.

Purchasing a new system can get overwhelming, especially for first time home owners as it might be the most expensive purchase made by most American families. It is important to familiarize yourself with the basic HVAC terminology so you can make an educated decision. Here we will go through some common terminology and technologies that you can use to get the most out of your HVAC system.

Size matters

There is no one size fits all when it comes to HVAC systems. This applies to all aforementioned equipment. If the equipment purchased is too big for your home, it will only rack up the electricity and gas bills, nothing else. Too small, and it might not be enough to fulfill the needs of your family. For example, if you get an air conditioner of half a ton, where a two ton unit was needed, the poor AC would run constantly trying to cool the room and in vain. It would have no time to rest in between cooling cycles and will degrade much faster.

Automated systems

These systems allow a greater control over the heating and cooling equipment with smart controls. The system automatically reports when it needs repairs, maintenance and needs to be set for optimal performance. In the long run, these systems provide greater convenience and efficiency with longer life and durability.

Split or window units

Both types are equally capable of fulfilling your cooling needs, however, split air conditioners are more common these days as window units are not energy efficient at all. Window units need to be fit in the wall, which requires a big square cut out. For smaller homes and apartments these are a good alternative as the indoor unit is directly connected to the outdoor unit. There is no need for a network of ducts going across the house. Ductless systems are also easier to maintain as searching for leakages is restricted to a small area.

Geothermal technology

As the name suggests, it is the technology that relates to the surface of the Earth. Geothermal units make use of the constant temperatures found deep underground. Installing these systems can require extensive excavation, and maintenance can be difficult. Although that should not be your main concern since they require little to no maintenance. Geothermal systems are energy efficient plus zero carbon emissions. They work by heating up your home in the winter from the warmth naturally found in the ground. In summers, they absorb the heat back into the ground to provide comfortable and cool indoor temperatures. They are also extremely quiet.

Single unit portable systems

When living space is limited or you need a portable plug-in solution, single unit portable systems are the order of the day. Save up on space and utility costs with single cabinet systems. They are ideal for small homes, picnics and roof parties.

Air purification features

Modern day air conditioners and HVAC systems provide air purification facilities. These maintain the quality of air through a process of filtration. They can remove dust, mold, pollen and mites to provide fresh air at all times. Poor air quality can lead to seasonal allergies and other health problems such as asthma. Air purification can also compliment humidity controls that extract moisture out of the air causing less sweating and provide more comfort. Since most Americans spend 90% of their time indoors, having a proper air filtration system is a good investment.

Significant savings with certified equipment

You might be trying tracking all your expenses and trying to save money. One way to do so is to switch off the HVAC equipment when you go out of the house or when it is not needed. However running inefficient equipment can balance the scales and eat up all your potential savings. Installing equipment in line with Energy Star certifications and regulations can help you significantly reduce your electricity bill and carbon emissions to the atmosphere.

As a rule of thumb, for most rating systems, the higher the rating the better it is for efficiency and overall performance. Getting started can be difficult so it is better to acquaint yourself with industry jargon, acronyms and terminology.

AFUE: Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) is a measure of a gas furnace’s efficiency in converting fuel to energy, but projecting the average thermal efficient for a complete heating season. A higher AFUE means greater energy efficiency. AFUE can be found in the user’s manual or the manufacturer’s guide that comes along with the unit. If AFUE is not mentioned or the manufacturer is unable to tell you the exact value, it’s a safe bet not to buy that product.

BTU: an abbreviation for British Thermal Units and is a unit used to measure heating and cooling energy required to raise or lower temperatures. A ton of cooling is defined as the output of 12,000 BTU per hour of cooling energy. A regular window air conditioning unit is usually about 1 ton whereas central air conditioning units can vary. A two ton unit is sufficient for a small home but a large home might need upwards of five tons.

EER: Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) of a cooling unit is determined by the output cooling divided by the electrical power input. EER is typically measured by a set outside air temperature, a set inside air temperature and 50 percent relative humidity.

HSPF: The Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) is used to measure the efficiency in heat pumps. The HSPF is a ratio of the heat output to electricity use over an average heating season.

SEER: Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) measures air conditioning and heat pump cooling efficiency, which is calculated by the cooling output for a typical cooling season divided by the total electrical energy.

FHR: First hour rating (FHR) is the amount of water that can be heated within the first hour from a cold start. It is important to know the FHR to determine the proper size needed when purchasing a water heater.