April 4, 2008, Newsletter Issue #83: Learn Industry Jargon When Buying an HVAC

Tip of the Week

Home heating and cooling systems are much easier to operate than ever before. They work better and need fewer repairs. The innovations that bring more comfort and convenience make system operations more complicated. For the average consumer, HVAC systems are a challenge to understand. When replacing an old HVAC system, or shopping for a new one, it makes sense to inform yourself about industry jargon. It will give you some basic knowledge and help you find the best system for your home.

* Annualized Fuel Utilization Efficiency. Commonly referred to as AFUE, it is a measure of heating efficiency. More efficient furnaces have a higher AFUE.

* Air Handler. It usually is a furnace or blower coil, and is responsible for moving heated or cooled air through ductwork.

* British Thermal Unit. A BTU is a unit of heat energy. Look for high BTUs on HVAC systems that have a greater heating capacity.

* Central air conditioner. Air is handled and distributed from a central location to rooms throughout a home or building.

* Compressor. This device is located in your outdoor air-conditioning unit. Its function
is to compress and pump cooling refrigerant.

* Ductwork. Air is distributed from the furnace or blower coil via ductwork through your home.

* ENERGY STAR. A trademarked label for HVAC products that meet strict guidelines by the Environmental Protection Agency for efficiency and performance.

* Heat Exchanger. It transfers heat to air that is distributed throughout the home.

* Humidifier. This device sends moisture into heated air as it leaves the furnace.

* Humidistat. Maintains humidity levels at adjusted levels.

* MERV Rating. Not the former TV talk show host, but a rating for air filters. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. Filters with smaller holes have higher MERV values and better efficiency.

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