ABC’s of HVAC

The ABCs of HVAC

A Glossary for Heating & Cooling Terminology

Here are the basics about HVAC systems to help you as the homeowner make an educated decision when it comes time to replace your HVAC system. We start with the definitions of terms that sometimes will confuse you in determining the best system for your home.

Below you’ll find a quick, alphabetized guide to important industry terms:

Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) – This is a measure of a gas furnace’s efficiency in converting fuel to energy, by projecting the average thermal efficiency for a complete heating system. A higher AFUE rating means greater energy efficiency.

British Thermal Unit (BTU) and BTU/hour (BTU/h) – This represents the amount of heat required to raise or lower the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. The heat extracted from your home by an air conditioner is measured in BTUs, while cooling and heating capacities are referred to in BTU/h. For reference, 12,000 BTU/h equals one ton of cooling.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) – This is a cooling unit determined by the output cooling divided by the electrical power input. The EER is typically determined by a set outside temperature, a set inside air temperature, and a 50% humidity. For a comparison point, 11 EER is roughly equivalent to 13 SEER (which is no longer available). In contrast, SEER is calculated over a range of outside temperatures.

ENERGY STAR – This is a government-backed program helping homeowners reduce energy costs and protect the environment through superior energy efficiency. Trane has partnered with the EPA to label their high efficiency products with the Energy Star label so homeowners can easily identify those higher efficiency products that can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save energy. The minimum efficiency required by the EPA for ENERGY STAR recognition includes air conditioner and heat pumps with a SEER of 14.5 or above, 12 EER, or HSPF of 8.2 or above and all TRANE gas furnaces with an AFUE of 90% or above. Remember, that the higher the efficiency rating, the greater the fuel savings.

Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) – This is used to measure the efficiency of a heat pump. The HSPF is a ratio of the heat output to electricity use over an average heating season, and the higher the HSPF the greater the energy efficiency.

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) – This measures air conditioning and heat pump cooling efficiency, which is calculated by the cooling output for a typical cooling season divided by the total electric energy input during the same time frame. A higher SEER rating means greater energy efficiency.

For answers to more specific question about your individual situation, our Virginia Beach heating and cooling experts are available 24/7 and anxiously await your call to (757) 347-8549!

Rave Reviews From Happy Customers

  • “LT came to our house, reviewed our requirements and presented options in a very professional and efficient manner. Much better experience than another company who’s representative dragged out the process for 3.5 hours. We had four companies inspect our home A/C set up and decided to go with American Mechanical because of a combination of reasonable cost, the equipment quoted (Trane – we already have a decent Trane furnace, existing air conditioner is a 28 year old Carrier), warranty, and timeline for installation. While our existing equipment does work, we realize since its 28 years old that it is liable to fail at any time. Plus, the RR-22 refrigerant will not be available soon. Equipment has not been installed yet, but from other reviews, I do not think I have anything to be concerned about.” - Chuck McGrath
  • “I’m that guy that never leaves a review. I’m that guy that sees reviews and thinks that these reviews aren’t real. Most companies use words like Loyal, integrity and honesty to lure you in then “BAM” they hit you with a bunch of BS charges. I must say American Mechanical customer service and their HVAC technician Manny was all of the above, To top it off their tech Manny Santiago was very knowledgeable, I can sniff out BS because of previous experiences with dealing with dishonest people. But, I can honestly say Manny was very professional, and he provided a thorough HVAC inspection. I highly recommend American Mechanical and their “OUTSTANDING” HVAC tech Manuel Santiago aka Manny.” - Smiley World
  • “Since I commenced my generator install in February, through my gas line upgrade, numerous inspections, HVAC installation and most recently my service call, Karoline has always been the five star “go to” person. When it looked like Virginia Natural Gas was going to leave me without heat in the cold of winter, Karoline said that if the gas company leaves you stranded, let me know and I will get a team out there to get you heat. She is dedicated and selfless and foremost is the first contact for the customer setting the tone for the excellence you will receive from American Mechanical.” - Gregory E
  • “Tony and Taylor installed a new heat pump in our apartment today. They arrived shortly after 8 and predicted it would take until 5. Everything went smoothly until they ran into a wiring mystery created by another local company. After considerable trouble shooting, Jon came to help, and everything was wrapped up by 7 PM. Tony remarked, “There are no problems, only solutions.” Then added, “We stay until the job is done.” Everyone was calm, patient and understanding. After having bad experiences with other local companies, we are now proudly American Mechanical customers. Thank you for giving us confidence we are in good hands at last.” - Cletis Fordwicke
  • “I was in a dilemma with my A/C and couldn’t turn to my installer. My installer had already worked on it three times and my cooling hadn’t improved. I found American Mechanical on line and they appeared reputable. I made a request for service on their webpage, and soon received a call from them. Kim, the phone representative showed concern and assured me that they would send a highly trained technician quickly and resolve my problem. The technician, David Johnson, came exactly when promised and worked thoroughly to determine the problem. He plainly explained the situation and what it would require to make it right and gave me the cost up front. David correctly diagnosed and quickly repaired my A/C in a courteous and friendly manor. I will continue to use American Mechanical for my repair needs and recommend them to my family and friends. Thank you.” - John Knight
  • “Mike Hayes came out to give us an estimate on replacing our central air conditioning unit and his professionalism and honesty highly exceeded that which I have become accustomed to in this day and age. It turns out that we do not need to replace our system at this time and Mike explained exactly why to ensure that we clearly understood. Wow! Professionalism, honesty and Customer Care…what an asset to your organization American Mechanical. We had 3 other companies come to give the estimate and your man was the only one who clearly explained what was “not” wrong with our system and who did not try to sell us a new one anyway. We are going to switch our annual service contract to AM and when the time does come to replace the unit, AM is only call we will make. Five stars are not enough. Thank you so much.” - James J.
  • “Dennis provided a FREE inspection of our HVAC as part of a package provided by American Mechanical on another project. He identified shortfalls in our older HVAC system leading to a full replacement. We verified his diagnosis as accurate and not “make work”. Dennis was very thorough, honest and really a great PRO. In general, American Mechanical has installed a whole house generator, tankless water heater, surge protection and will now get the work to replace our HVAC. All our installations were professionally accomplished as advertised, no shortcuts, no plu ups, and have been performed by techs who new their trade, were honest, communicated with us for best convenience, and very courteous. We have no concerns highly recommending this business for any project they accomplish. Call them first.” - Jim & Anne Fellows
  • “Had our Spring HVAC inspection/tune up performed by Trey today. He arrived on time and was very thorough. He spent a lot of time making sure everything was inspected on both of our units to be sure we are ready for a hot summer. He even cleaned out a hornets nest! Yikes! When asking about recommended services, Trey was up front and honest. We did go ahead with one of his recommended items. We are waiting to do the other. I appreciate that the company is willing to replace a customer-supplied part in order to save us some money.” - Nicole C.
  • “Had American Mechanical come to my home for spring HVAC maintenance. Dave Johnson was the HVAC tech who performed the service and was very thorough and knowledgeable in performing the maintenance and offering recommendations. Kim was the dispatcher who set the appointment up for me and was very professional and set up the appointment at my convenience time and with a knowledgeable HVAC tech. We are retired military and would highly recommend American Mechanical to anyone needing quality and professional service.” - Diane Beyer

What Sets American Mechanical Apart

  • Emergency Services & Same Day Service Available
  • Master Licensed Contractors
  • NATE Certified Technicians
  • Clean, Uniformed, & Highly-Trained Technicians
  • We Get the Job Done Right the First Time
  • We Guarantee Professional, Quality Service and Workmanship

“My name is John, and I've always been good at fixing things. In 1994 I decided to open an honest HVAC company, and American Mechanical was born. I've been in the HVAC industry for over 40 years now, and honesty, quality and fairness are still my number one priorities. Our mission every day is to provide professional, quality service and workmanship to our customers - and that's a guarantee.”

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