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

  • “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.
  • “GENERAC advised me to have a generator safety check performed. American Mechanical was recommended as an authorized company. I was so impressed by the professionalism, it started from the first call made to set the appointment. I love the reminder text messages provided by this company, keeping you up to date along with the picture of your technician coming to your home. Jason Gay, the technician was icing on the cake. Oh my, you could feel his genuine attitude and confidence that he knew he worked with a great company. It’s nice to see loyalty from employees. It means to me, the company takes care of their employees and in turn, the employees take good care of their clients. Technicians can make or break a company. I actually called three other companies on the recommended companies and I did not get a warm feeling on any of those. They could not even tell me when they could come out. American Mechanical scheduled an appointment with me within a few days and the technician was on time, with a friendly smile and a warm hand shake. Also when Jason speaks with you he looks directly into your eyes. That means he is listening to your questions and concerns. I don’t get that much anymore from most companies. I can tell you that you have a home run hit with Jason Gay. He thoroughly checked my generator and took the time to explain the maintenance plans offered by his company. He also gave me helpful safety tips that were very important. I have now found a go to company because of his visit, that I feel will do what they promise to do for most of my household need for repairs. It is so hard to find great companies that really care. I highly recommend American Mechanical! Thanks again Jason for having those good old fashioned business etiquette that rarely exists in today’s time.” - Regina W
  • “Sales, installation and service was first rate! I truly appreciate the service rendered over a two day period by Tony J. and Taylor B. They were on time and most professional. I left a BBB rating with five stars for each gentleman. American Mechanical is a wonderful company with superb employees. I love my new HVAC Trane system and will enjoy it for many years to come!” - Mike W.
  • “My husband and I have been so very impressed with American Mechanical and their staff! We are having electrical upgrades and a GENERAC back up generator installed for our home. Jason was our first contact. He met with us, answered our many questions, inspected the house and gave us suggestions. Jason made us feel very comfortable with our decision to have this work accomplished. The technicians at our house were Jon, Rodney and Tim. They were such hard workers! All were very friendly, patient with all my questions and made us feel relaxed and comfortable having them at our residence. In addition, Kirsti has been our contact regarding scheduling. She has been most helpful with keeping us informed about when and what would be happening. Highly recommend this company! Excellent employees!” - Sandra P.
  • “What an INCREDIBLE company to work with! Kirsti in the office helped us get the right people out here for the situation we had going on. Shaw inspected our old system, told us it was done. Scoped the duct lines prior to putting together a plan for a new system, once the duct work checked out passable the new system came together beautifully! Bobby and Dillon showed up and got to work a day earlier than expected (which is wonderful with temps expected to reach 90 degrees and we had no air conditioning). By the end of day one we had air conditioning downstairs, On day two of the installation we had air conditioning upstairs. They fully explained EVERYTHING. No question was left hanging. They fixed things I didn’t realize were a problem. Definitely a company I would recommend to everyone I know. Thank you American Mechanical from start to finish, GREAT JOB!” - Stacy D.
  • “HVAC Solutions Specialist – Mr. Mike Hayes – TOP SHELF Mike came to our house as a “second opinion” regarding replacing our two HVAC units. He was very personal, professional, and knowledgeable and we felt very comfortable and hopeful after talking with him. He took the time to educate us on our systems and even noted that one of our systems was still under warranty. Since we are on a fixed income, it was a true testament of Mike’s character and work ethic to have someone educate us instead of sell. Did you know the date your HVAC was installed is actually the date the warranty starts and not the date on the equipment? I am confident that once we are free from our current maintenance agreement with the other company, we will call on Mike and American Mechanical for any future needs as their mission statement holds true with our experience: PEOPLE – TRUST – VALUE. Thank you…” - Sherry B.
  • “James, Rich took care of me today and we signed a contract for two more bathrooms and included a vent for the third. I continue to be a raving American Mechanical fan. Very pleased all around with your company. Please let your leadership know how well you all do. For me to experience such consistency in service level all around reflects very well on the leadership and management of your company. I’ve worked in the client service industry over 25 years and I know it starts at the top when delivering client service. I’ve dealt with so many American Mechanical employees and get that genuine high level of service every time. But I wouldn’t be starting my third project if your initial sales person , who I believe is Rodger, had not been so persistent in following up on my Home Advisor inquiry for my first job. I had already had three quotes but he called me back four or five times in two days- and that is why I ended up with American Mechanical and got what I thought was the best deal. Of course, Neil was exceptional in closing me on the first deal. After that, why would we bother to get anyone else for the additional work we need? If anyone ever asks for a reference, please use me. I look forward to the next projects! I think rewarding your employees for 5 star reviews is a brilliant idea. Happy employees make for happy clients!” - Millie W
  • “I am just trying to figure out how to brag on all of the guys – Mike, Bobby, Dillon, Tony, Taylor and David (hope I did not miss anyone) that just installed our new HVAC unit on Thursday. What a professional company you are…from the detailed comparison pricing after Mike reviewed our issues to the fact that every single one of your guys introduced themselves, shook our hands and explained what they would be doing. Drop cloths, booties and immaculate clean up; before and after pictures and just the total experience! Your company gave us an experience that impressed us. We hope to do additional business with you in the future. Thank you again.” - Karen G.
  • “Sean and everyone I’ve dealt with at American Mechanical have been a real pleasure to do work with. Top notch customer service and they don’t treat you like just a number. Good pricing and they give you lots of options and walk you through every detail. Can’t say enough good things!” - Caleb S.

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.”