SEER, NATE and more – Heating and Air Lingo Explained

heating and air | Gainesville Mechanical

The lingo and terminology of the heating and air industry can be confusing for northern Georgia homeowners and business owners. Understanding your heating and cooling system and the terms will increase your awareness in the future enabling you to make wiser decisions on your heating and cooling needs. At Gainesville Mechanical, we want our customers to be informed and confident when we discuss their heating and cooling systems. Below are the most common terms in the HVAC industry.

Common Heating and Air Terms

  • Thermostat: A thermostat controls your heating and air equipment by communicating the indoor temperature to the system and switching it on or off. Thermostats come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, including different features for each kind. The most popular and energy-efficient thermostats are programmable and smart thermostats.
  • Air Handler: The air handler contains the blower, evaporator coils, and other heating and cooling elements. It circulates air throughout the ductwork and can be paired with a heat pump or split system air conditioner.
  • Heat Pump: A heat pump does the job of both a heating system and cooling system, working year-round to keep a home comfortable. It works by transferring heat to either heat up or cool down a home. Heat pumps can be ground sourced with geothermal energy or air sourced from the outside air temperature.
  • Filter: The filter, frequently referred to as a furnace or air filter, traps and eliminates particles, such as dust, dirt, pollutants, and allergens, from your indoor air as it cycles through your heating and air conditioning unit. Filters come in a variety of sizes and thickness with different recommendations on how often to change them. The average time between filter changes is 1 to 3 months.
  • Register: The register is the piece of material covering the outlets and inlets of your ductwork. There are louvers on the register to allow individuals to control the airflow inside a room.
  • Plenum: The plenum is a piece of ductwork attached to either the supply side or the return side of the air handler, where the other ducts are attached. Sometimes if the plenum is on the return side, there is a filter where the air flows through the air handler.
  • Load Calculation: A Gainesville Mechanical HVAC technician performs a load calculation to determine the heating and cooling needs of your home. The calculation establishes how much heat is lost or gained to properly size a new system for a home.
  • Tonnage: A tonnage measurement refers to how much heat an air conditioner can remove from a space. The measurement of the cooling capacity is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs), which measure the amount of energy used per hour to cool a home.
  • Compressor: The compressor circulates the refrigerant in the air conditioner and regulates the pressure of the refrigerant as the unit runs. It sits inside the condenser unit of your air conditioner and most likely is the noise you hear when the unit is operating.

Heating and Air Acronyms

  • HVAC: HVAC is a term used when describing systems and equipment involving heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
  • AFUE: AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, which measures how efficient a furnace utilizes fuel. A furnace with a high AFUE rating offers higher efficiency when heating a home.  
  • SEER: The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio rating, also known as the SEER rating, measures the efficiency of a cooling system, such as an air conditioner or heat pump. Air conditioners are required to have a SEER rating of 10 or higher.
  • MERV: The MERV rating is the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value of an air filter, which indicates how efficient it is at removing particles from a home. The standard MERV measurement is 1 as the lowest and 16 as the highest.
  • HSPF: The HSPF is the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, which determines the efficiency of a heat pump. An efficient heat pump will have an HSPF of 8 or higher.

With knowledge comes confidence, especially when it comes to your heating and air equipment. Knowing the lingo of the HVAC industry helps you understand what our NATE-certified technicians are sharing during maintenance and service calls. Call Gainesville Mechanical today to schedule service on your heating and air unit.

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