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HVAC Definitions

Confused by an HVAC term you heard? We can help!

Air handler:

A device used to regulate and circulate air as part of your HVAC system. Typically connects to your ductwork.

British Thermal Unit (BTU):

This is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 pound of water 1°F. One ton of air conditioning is 12,000 BTUs.


Condensing unit:

The outdoor piece of equipment that changes refrigerant from vapor to liquid. Sometimes (although erroneously) called the "air-conditioner."

Coefficient of Performance (COP):

Used in measuring heat pump performance. The higher the COP, the more efficient the heat pump, the lower the operating costs.

Evaporator coil:

The indoor piece of equipment that changes refrigerant from liquid to vapor.

Freon / refrigerant:

Liquid or gaseous (colorless, non-flammable) product used as a refrigerant.

Heat pump:

Acts as an air conditioner or furnace, depending on the outdoor air temperature.

Heating Season Performance Factor (HSPF):

For heat pumps. The higher the number, the more efficient it is.


Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.

HVAC system:

An air handler / condensing unit / coil or heat pump / furnace.

Load calculations:

A process of determining the proper size of an HVAC system, heat pump, furnace and/or air conditioner for a home.

Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rated filters:

The higher the value equates to finer filtration meaning fewer dust particles and other airborne contaminates.

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER):

The higher the unit's SEER rating, the more energy-efficient it is.


Zoning system:

Dividing a home into zones controlled independently of each other. Beneficial when areas or rooms have different temperatures (exposure to sun, lots of glass, etc.). Or when some rooms of your home are rarely occupied or used.

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