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

  • “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
  • “We had Randy Berry and Kevin Garner and they did a great job. Being a woman it’s important that I don’t feel uncomfortable around them and I didn’t! They got the air duct cleaning done in 3 ½ hours. They are also doggie approved and I don’t trust anyone that my dog doesn’t like!” - Kathy
  • “The team arrived on time, they were very courteous throughout the whole day. Tarps laid down to keep the house clean and they also wore booties on the shoes. Old unit removed and the new one installed is working like a rocket ship. Couldn’t be happier and I highly recommend them. Prices are right on par for a decent Trane system with anyone else out there but the professionalism and workmanship couldn’t be topped. Offered to bring me A/C units and heaters over to the house if I needed them since my old unit was out of commission until install day and brought me a years worth of filters.” - Joseph Y.
  • “Our furnace decided to give out during the Nor’easter this past weekend. My husband called American Mechanical and we were able to have someone come out and assess on Saturday. Although we were tols it could be up to a week for the part to come in on Monday we received a call they had found the part. Dave J. came on Monday afternoon and found we needed an additional part. He went back to the warehouse to get the additional part so that we wouldn’t have to go another night without heat. He was very professional and made every effort to make sure we were comfortable. We had been using another small HVAC company and were not pleased. American Mechanical is our new HVAC company. Thank you for restoring our heat.” - Gwen
  • “This company is great! I have used them a few times and they impress me each time with their excellent customer service, and honest diagnostics that are explained thoroughly prior to any service repairs with a price quote. I highly recommend – Dave J. for any HVAC services needed. He recently repaired my HVAC system to a quality above my high expectations, and did so while explaining the process and giving me advice to keep the system from having future issues. Five stars to Dave J. and American Mechanical, Incorporated for an excellent job. Highly recommended!” - Joel
  • “You’ve been patient and understanding of our needs and concerns as we progressed from talking about a combi-tankless unit through its installation. While you are probably more accustomed to fielding problems, allow me to offer some compliments. Our experience with American Mechanical has been most unusual. Never before have we worked with a company that seemingly couldn’t do enough to satisfy our requests. Every concern was met with a serious and immediate attempt at solution. Communications were easy and two-way. The gentlemen who made the initial installation (Tony and Bobby) as well as the men who did the later work (Trey and Dave) treated our home like a home, not just another workplace. We enjoyed having them here, and kind of missed them when the work was finished. They did their work artfully – even making a special effort to get the recirculating pump control in an easy to use location. Finally, they did a nice job of cleaning up after each hard day of work. There is a company that advertises that it is “our company for life”. Well, that’s how we feel about American Mechanical after this experience. You played a critical role in creating that commitment. We’ve already called upon your company for a plumbing repair; and we’ll be calling you soon to talk about a whole house generator. We look forward to many years of work together in the future.” - John Stewart
  • “Each time I use American Mechanical the experience gets even better. The text message with the techs picture and background ensures I know who I’m expecting. The tech tracking link shows me where my technician is and exactly when to expect his arrival. The personal attention, explanations, and quality of service of the tech is always outstanding. Kudos for not being satisfied with just doing the same old thing and be willing to continue to improve the customer experience.” - Bruce & Cathy
  • “I want to express my appreciation and satisfaction with the follow-up work David and Randy completed today on my duct system. They were able to quickly and satisfactorily make the necessary repair and add to that, their professional and positive attitude and that makes for an upbeat and pleasant experience. Once again, it was a pleasure doing business with American Mechanical.” - Mike Barrett

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
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