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

  • “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
  • “American Mechanical recently installed a HALO air purifier to our new system, (also installed by American Mechanical), and we are very pleased with it. Air quality is of great importance to us, especially because of allergies we have. Since the HALO was installed, the quality of air is greatly improved. I would recommend the HALO purifier and American Mechanical to anyone interested in improving the quality of the air in their homes.” - Judy M
  • “*** ***** went the extra distance and found a problem in our attic with a damaged furnace pipe that could have caused further problems. We called upon the same company to fix the issue at minimal cost. *** ***** was knowledgeable, personable, and courteous. Thank you for your dedication to your customer's well being.” - Travis H
  • “**** came back to do some additional work after an install. He spoke very highly of his company and made us feel even more satisfied that we chose the right business for all the work done. He was very knowledgeable about his work and the benefits of the work being done. He is an asset to American Mechanical Inc. and a reason to use again.” - Travis H
  • “Robert was very informative, friendly, and helpful!” - Guillermo F
  • “**** * came out to our house to help with our A/C unit. He was very kind. You could tell he really takes pride in his work. He would explain what was wrong, even if it was his mistake. He was a pleasure to work with.” - Christy B
  • “Tony J. from American Mechanical was outstanding! He and his partner Dennis S. did everything right, from calling and arriving early to clean up and making sure I understand what was done, even to the point of programming the new digital thermostat. I would and will recommend American Mechanical and ask for Tony J. and Dennis S.” - Michael B

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