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HVAC Terms: Know What They MeanHomeowners should be familiar with certain heating, ventilation and air conditioning or HVAC terms. Knowing the basics makes it easier to communicate with your contractor and ease replacement or repair. Here are some of the most important terms for systems, equipment and ratings.

HVAC Systems

A central air conditioning system cools and distributes air from a central location. Alternately, a heat pump cools or heats by moving heat inside in winter or  outside in summer. While single package systems combine heating and cooling in a single outdoor unit, split systems have separate indoor and outdoor equipment, and dual fuel systems combine a gas furnace with an electric heat pump to increase efficiency.


The most common HVAC terms for components include:

  • Air handler: indoor air conditioner or heat pump component that circulates treated air.
  • Compressor: outdoor air conditioner or heat pump refrigerant compressor and pump.
  • Condenser coil: outdoor air conditioner or heat pump equipment that collects or releases heat.
  • Ductwork: metal channels through which treated air is distributed.
  • Evaporator or indoor coil: air conditioner or heat pump component that collects heat from indoor air.
  • Heat exchanger: furnace component that transfers heat to surrounding air.
  • Humidifier: device that adds moisture to furnace-heated air.
  • Thermostat: an often programmable device that regulates HVAC systems.
  • Ventilator: system that replaces stale indoor air with filtered, fresh air.

Ratings and Measurements

When determining the best HVAC equipment for your home, look for these ratings.

  • Annualized Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) indicates furnace efficiency, with higher numbers being more efficient.
  • Combined Annual Efficiency (CAE) measures the heat produced per dollar of fuel for home and water heating.
  • Energy Star products meet or exceed government high-efficiency guidelines.
  • Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) indicates heating efficiency for heat pumps – the higher, the better
  • Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rates air conditioner efficiency, with higher numbers equaling greater savings.

Once you have a grasp on these basic HVAC terms, contact Aladdin Heating & Cooling for more expert advice. We have served the Warren, Troy, and Southeast Michigan area since 1945, and we look forward to serving your home comfort needs today.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Warren, Michigan about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about HVAC terms and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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