How to Understand Your Air and Heating Company’s Language

As one of Phoenix, Arizona’s most trusted HVAC contractors, we at Morehart Air Conditioning & Heating know the value of a great customer experience. Our owners and technicians have over 100 years combined working in air conditioning and heating, so you and your family are always in good hands with us. When we make a visit to a customer’s home, we break down our services and repair work in a way that’s easy to understand. We always make the recommendations that we believe will benefit our customers the most; we never make a recommendation just to sell something that someone probably doesn’t need. You can count on us to go above and beyond service expectations – every time we come to your home.

At Morehart Air Conditioning & Heating, we’re experts at what we do – but we don’t expect you to be familiar with the terminology of the HVAC industry. We want to discuss some of the most important HVAC terms and acronyms used by HVAC companies today, with the hope of educating our current and future customers. By exploring the terms below, you may gain a better understanding of the details involved with a service call to your residence.

Understand HVAC

AFUE: This stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. This term represents a rating reflecting the efficiency level when fuel is converted to energy via a gas furnace. A higher AFUE rating means greater energy efficiency. But unlike SEER, which has an arbitrary rating associated with it (like SEER-16, etc), AFUE is actually far simpler to read and understand. A furnace’s AFUE rating is listed as a percentage of how much fuel it can convert into usable heat, with a scale ranging from around 30-100.

BTU: BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, specifically, it is the amount of energy needed to raise 1 pound of water 1°F at sea level. A single BTU is equal to the amount of heat emitted by one wooden kitchen match. In terms of heating and cooling, a BTU is the measure of heat emitted by fuel or eliminated through cooling. A higher number of BTUs isn’t always the answer. Using any type of air conditioner, whether a portable unit, a window unit or central air conditioning, with a BTU level higher than needed can cause the unit to cool quickly, cycle off and then, to maintain your desired temperature, have to cycle on again soon after. By cycling on and off too many times, your air conditioner’s compressor will quickly over-work itself.

CFM: This is an acronym for Cubic Feet per Minute, which is a measurement for airflow. To calculate this properly follow these steps:

1. Measure the length, width and height of the room, using a tape measure. Round all the values up to the next full foot, to simplify the calculations. For example, if a room length is 17 feet and 7 inches, round it up to 18 feet.

2. Multiply the three values together to determine the volume of the room in cubic feet. For example, if the length is 18 feet, the width is 12 feet and the height is 10 feet, the room volume is obtained from the equation volume = 18 x 12 x 10, giving a room volume of 2,160 cubic feet.

3. Multiply the volume of the room by the number of times the heated air is to be changed every hour. The result is the volume of heated air that passes through the room in one hour. For example, if the air is changed six times every hour, multiply the volume of air determined in Step 2 by six. Using the example data from Step 2, the result would be six times 2,160 cubic feet, or 12,960 cubic feet of air passing through the room per hour.

4. Divide the value obtained in Step 3 by 60, the number of minutes in one hour. The result is the volume of air that must be passed through the room every minute. For example, 12,960 divided by 60 equals 216, so 216 cubic feet of air must be fed into the room every minute. The room requires 216 CFM for heating.

Compressor: The compressor is the core of a heat pump or air conditioning system. It compresses the refrigerant to get it to the right pressure and temperature before it passes through the condenser coil. If your compressor fails, your air condenser or heat pump will not be able to effectively make your house comfortable. The compressor is also the biggest energy-sucking part of your air conditioner or heat pump.

Condenser Coil: A coil changes refrigerant from vapor form to liquid form by causing heat to dissipate. After the gas refrigerant is pressurized and heated in the compressor, it enters the condenser coil. Here, two things happen. The gas refrigerant transfers its heat to the air blowing over it. Simultaneously, the refrigerant cools and turns into a liquid.

Energy Star®: Equipment that qualifies for this national program is much more energy efficient than standard equipment. As much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling. So making smart decisions about your home’s heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system can have a big effect on your utility bills.

Heat Pump: It serves to heat or cool the home, depending on the season. A heat pump is a device that provides heat energy from a source of heat to a destination called a “heat sink”. Heat pumps are designed to move thermal energy opposite to the direction of spontaneous heat flow by absorbing heat from a cold space and releasing it to a warmer one.

HEPA Filter: Sometimes called high-efficiency particulate arresting or high-efficiency particulate air, is a type of air filter. This type of filter removes allergens in the air. Filters meeting the HEPA standard have many applications, including use in medical facilities, automobiles, aircraft and homes.

HSPF: This means Heating Seasonal Performance Factor. The term is used to describe the measure of efficiency for a heat pump during a heating season. The higher the HSPF rating of a unit, the more energy efficient it is. HSPF is a ratio of BTU heat output over the heating season to watt-hours of electricity used.

HVAC: An acronym for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.

Hybrid Comfort System: A hybrid system is a combination of a gas furnace and a heat pump.

Matched System: In this type of system, all of the components are equally matched in terms of efficiency and capacity. The cooling components consist of an outdoor condensing unit and an indoor air handler. The two components are designed to work together to provide optimal performance, maximum efficiency, and comfort. When a new outdoor condenser is installed, you should install a new, corresponding and equally efficient indoor air handler at the same time. The installation of the two components that are designed to be used together comprises a matching system.

Modulating Heating: This kind of system continuously adjusts the temperatures in a building or home as they change. Unlike single-stage gas furnaces that operate ON or OFF, a modulating, variable-speed gas furnace minimizes energy use by running at the lowest possible fan speed, and producing just the right amount of heat to keep a steady, comfortable temperature in your home.

NATE: An acronym for North American Technician Excellence, which is the only certification program recognized nationally by the entire HVAC industry.

Packaged System: This is a heating and/or air conditioning system that contains all of its components in a single cabinet.

Refrigerant: This substance helps to create cooling, and it’s used with most cooling systems and units.

SEER: This means Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, a rating that reflects the measurement of cooling produced by an air conditioner or heat pump.

Split System: This is a system with components in dual locations, such as one with a furnace indoors and an air conditioner unit outdoors.

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Communication is Key

Morehart Air Conditioning & Heating has always considered our customer base to be our top priority, and that will always be the case. We believe in providing excellent service, excellent products, excellent solutions for our customers, and most importantly, communication. If you would like to check out reviews of our company, please see our Phoenix BBB page. We would love to show you a better HVAC experience – the Morehart way.