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

  • “I purchased a home and closed last week and was super distraught to find out I had some major plumbing issues not even 48 hours after moving into my new home. Some we were not aware of and some that the seller was supposed to have fixed- but didn’t. It was a good amount of work. Starting from the first call to the office the representatives and dispatchers were very kind and responsive. Then, these guys came out to my home and did a thorough check up and diagnosis of my problems and gave me options to choose from to fix the problems. They took the time to answer all of my questions and eased my anxiety over the entire situation. They did a fantastic job doing the repairs and installations. After the initial job was completed the next day we were having an appliance delivered and I came to find yet another issue in a different area of my home which prevented the washing machine from being installed. I called American Mechanical back again and they sent a plumber out right away! Again I was given options and again I felt secure in knowing when they come out to do the work it will be done just as well as they did the couple of days before! I was so impressed with the service I received that I purchased their maintenance package. Highly recommend this company! Excellent service from the first call. Courteous repairs from specialists who are master experts in their field and no run around. They are honest and dependable. Five stars all the way!” - J. Ewan
  • “We are so impressed with the service we received from Matthew and Dominique over the three days they were here. Not only were they professional, they were also polite, kind and knowledgeable. They kept us completely in the loop the entire time they were in our home. They always arrived on time and put in the long hours to get our new HVAC system in place and running. We did run into an issue with the system that was not identified when we purchased and American Mechanical took total responsibility for it and made things right by doing the additional work and not charging us for it. World class service! I highly recommend this company! We felt like Matthew and Dominique were family by the time they left! I will be requesting them any time I need service!” - M. Jaskowiak
  • “Today Jon V. came to do my yearly maintenance on my GENERAC generator. He called me when he was on the way for my service call and he gave me an estimated time of arrival. Jon was very professional and answered all of my questions and then some. I just signed up for their five year maintenance plan because I know they will take good care of my generator. I know American Mechanical will be here when I need them.” - Fawn B.
  • “I was surprised when Taylor called and told me a woman technician would be servicing my HVAC systems today. Very impressed with my services provided by Kristin. Would love to have her for all future maintenances!” - L. Rose
  • “Kristin was our technician for this preventative maintenance check on our new system ductwork and electrostatic air cleaner. She was very thorough in her work and even went the extra mile to clean and dilute any cleaning chemicals that had pooled on the concrete pad. Kristin is very friendly and knowledgeable of our product. We appreciate her hard work in the extremely hot weather! Would definitely recommend her for your HVAC needs.” - Mike B.
  • “My review of American Mechanical is 20 stars. The company is exceptional! Beginning with the time frame. Our air conditioner died at the beginning of summer. We needed to speak with someone ASAP! We spoke with Kim who sent Tim H., the sales person, out immediately. She kept in touch, letting us know about every step. Pretty excellent considering all of the delays due to the virus. Thanks Kim! My husband although very intelligent, admits he knows nothing about heating and air conditioning. He needed to talk to someone that knows what they are talking about. Tim is very knowledgeable and pretty much knows everything about heating and cooling and so he told us exactly what we needed for a replacement. He gave us the best price, warranty and financing ever. Thank you Tim! Our installers were Matt M. and Mason B.. What an awesome job they did! Everything needed to be replaced in a 30 plus year old home. They had to do a lot of destruction, but you would never know they were here. Their vacuum cleaner ran way more than mine does. Smart, friendly guys with professional personalities. Thanks Matt and Mason! We are now cool as cucumbers. I highly recommend American Mechanical. We used these guys before due to a main water line break at Christmas. This is a very good company!” - Richard and Nancy L.
  • “I recently had a complete removal and reinstallation of my HVAC system, including duct work in the attic and crawl space. Given the significant expense of the job I expected quality work. While I rarely write letters of thanks and recognition for work done on my home, in this case I would be remiss if I did not extend my appreciation for the effort put forth by your team. Led by Dillon, the team was professional, knowledgeable and hardworking. Dillon did an outstanding job leading the effort and ensuring all of our questions and concerns were addressed. He was very knowledgeable and an outstanding representative of your company. His teammates were just as responsive and hard working. At the end of each day they ensured we were happy with the work and did an excellent job cleaning up. The team went above and beyond towards the end to get us air conditioning in the upstairs a day early to support unexpected visitors. Very impressed! I will not hesitate to recommend American Mechanical and look forward to working with them in the future.” - Joseph E.
  • “American Mechanical was able to schedule an appointment the same day I called for a quote on Quest piping replacement. I have previously worked with American Mechanical to repair several leaks from said Quest pipes and the work is always done professionally and quickly. Most recently, I worked with Sean M. to get a quote on replacing the pipes. Sean was awesome to talk to, very courteous and knowledgeable, which is what I have experienced with other American Mechanical professionals. You are in good hands if you go with this company for your repairs!” - B. Annett
  • “Unfortunately, our air conditioning just went out. The good news is it went out before the hot summer months. My husband and I contacted several HVAC companies but American Mechanical is the one that stood out to us! The first impression with Brittany (office administration) was professional, friendly, helpful and organized. We called other companies and they answered the phone with no introduction, just a hello. I know most people don’t care about that but I take stuff like that into consideration. It’s the first impression of the company and if they are not professional from the beginning they are not going to be professional with you during or after doing business. Anyway, American Mechanical was professional in that regards. Second interaction was with Tim, the comfort specialist. He came out to give us an estimate. Tim was thorough, professional and detailed. He was the only specialist that actually took measurements of our home to make sure he was giving us the best information for the size of our home. My third interaction with American Mechanical was the follow up call and email I received from James, he is the inside sales guy. No other company followed up with us after giving us an estimate. Replacing an HVAC unit is not cheap, it is a pretty big investment…wouldn’t you want a company to follow up with you to see if you had any questions? The answer should be yes! As I mentioned American Mechanical followed up and that speaks volumes to me as well because they obviously want my business and want to answer questions. Needless to say we decided to go with American Mechanical for several reasons. To be honest they weren’t the cheapest but was not the highest price either. They were right in the middle for where the budget needed to be and worked with us as well. They haven’t done the work yet but based on all my interactions with the company, I’m confident the job will exceed my expectations. Sorry for the long review I just wanted to make sure I was detailed with my explanation.” - Kristen L.

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.”