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

  • “My son and I needed a new HVAC system since the old unit was approaching 30 years. I did all the homework, searched, researched for the best system paired with the most professional company I could find. Everything led to American Mechanical! I set up an appointment. Neil J. was our install advisor. Neil was thorough and professional. We decided on a system for install. A date was set for the install. Trane was my ultimate choice. The install team consisted of Tony J., Jacob L., and Mason B.. The install team called around 8:00AM ready to install. Tony, Jacob and Mason were professional, but friendly. These guys FINISHED the ENTIRE system by 6:00PM the same day! Great crew! If anyone asks me to recommend a company for HVAC, back-up emergency generators, or electrical work, I will recommend American Mechanical! I cannot recommend enough!” - Dale T.
  • “Great response time in an emergency situation. Wife got home from having open heart surgery and the AC was barely hanging on, if at all really. Neil not only took a call to our home after 9 at night, but got our system up and running and gave me a quote for new install and rearranged the schedule to prioritize our installation. Nothing but extra steps of going above and beyond for our comfort and satisfaction. In a time where I witnessed the right out “let’s take advantage of a bad situation” from other companies, Neil had our backs and did not try to sell what we didn’t need, no extras, no BS. The installation crew was not only a blessing to see but courteous and professional. From the first phone call I made to job completion, everyone associated with the installation at American Mechanical made me confident I made the right call. I will recommend them and the incredible team that stands behind the crews in the field. 100%.” - Jack H.
  • “Our air conditioner stopped working and our house was 85 degrees. We have a newborn and were worried about his safety in the heat. Carlton called us back quickly and came out to help us at midnight! He was quick and fixed our air conditioner. He returned again the next day with a part he did not initially have. We were very thankful that Carlton came out so late to help keep our baby safe! I highly recommend American Mechanical and Carlton to help with your HVAC needs!” - Lauren W.
  • “First off, WOW! Now that that’s out of the way, I called on a Saturday evening after a home renovation project I was working on went terribly wrong. Long story short the family and I were without water and I found myself in too deep. After the call to the 24/7 emergency department they gave me over to Eric, a master plumber. He was at our house promptly and was very professional. Eric is a personable person who has a wealth of knowledge and is straight-forward and honest. I would recommend this company and more specifically Eric to anyone with any home repair needs. Honestly we had a splendid experience and our issue was resolved for a reasonable cost and in a timely manner. Thank you to American Mechanical and thank you to Eric!” - Luke C.
  • “Sean M. with American Mechanical was exceptional! I had a water leak at the meter which was on my side. The water had to be turned off and was told he couldn’t get back until the next day. He made a phone call and found that the equipment he needed was close to where I live, so he said he would get my water back on that day. The price kind of threw me back for a moment, but we suggested if we dug the holes and filled them back in, would he be able to come down on the price. Thankfully, he took $200 off which was a great savings to me since I’m a widow and getting ready to sell my house soon. I would highly recommend Sean to my family and friends. He was very professional and courteous.” - Kathy H.
  • “Sean arrived at the agreed time to assess my main water line leak and verified my leak was located in between the city water meter and my home’s main cutoff valve. Sean explained to me my options to either repair or replace the main line and was very transparent with the costs involved with each option provided. Being my main water line was repaired at least one other time by one of my home’s former owner, I decided to have the main water line replaced vice repaired. Once 50% of the repair cost was paid at the time I signed the contract, it took only a couple of days for the repair to be made and it was accomplished exactly as Sean described. No one likes paying a sum of money for unexpected home repairs; but, having a service technician like Sean explain the process thoroughly and provide up-front pricing helps a homeowner like me make an informed decision. I very much appreciate Sean’s pleasant demeanor and courtesy during his assessment of my water leak issue and would not hesitate to request him again for another job or recommend him to others. Thanks!” - Richard B.
  • “Thank you American Mechanical, Inc. for sending Jason G. to service my generator for the inspection recommended by GENERAC. He definitely met my expectations of an ideal service person. He called me to let me know he was on the way to my home, he was on time, very polite, and a true professional. Thank you, Jason! I have been searching for a company to regularly service my generator and Jason represented your company so well that I plan to use your company for future generator maintenance. I called on Wednesday 7/10/2019 to schedule an appointment. I spoke with Jennifer. She had a friendly phone voice, very professional and she scheduled my appointment for the next day. The quick scheduling of the appointment was shocking but very impressive. You company’s use of technology with the text message to thank me for choosing your company, the reminder appointment text and the text introducing the technician with his photo which also gave me the ability to track the exact time of his arrival is wonderful! There are several people with generators on my street and I will definitely spread the word about American Mechanical, Incorporated.” - Lisa B.
  • “I just had my Briggs & Stratton generator’s yearly maintenance done, once again by American Mechanical, Inc.. I have had them doing maintenance every year since I had the generator installed in 2008. As always, I received a telephone call first thing in the morning telling me when to expect their technician to contact me with a specific time of arrival. This helped me because I did not have to worry about missing his call or visit. My technician, Dan Steele, called me before arrival and arrived promptly. It was a hot and muggy day and I appreciate his dedication. After walking me through what he would be doing, Dan put up his shelter and set to work. After performing maintenance, Dan let me know it was time to test the system and turned the power off. The generator kicked in just as expected. Dan went over with me a few maintenance items for future attention, and was all done. I highly recommend American Mechanical and Dan Steele for your home generator, and any other home system needs.” - Jeanne S.
  • “Randy B. and Kevin G. work for American Mechanical as HVAC specialists. They recently replaced all of the air conditioning and heating ducts in my home. Both Randy and Kevin are skilled professionals and are a well organized team. They were both courteous, dres neat and I always got a call or e-mail to let me know they were coming to my home. American Mechanical is fortunate to have them in their employment!” - Bob D.

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.”