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Watching Our Language

Confused woman

Have you ever asked your auto mechanic or doctor about their diagnosis and the answers they give you sound like something from a different language? You want them to translate what they just said into English, but you don’t want to appear foolish.

The home comfort industry has its own specialized vocabulary too. To help you better understand the language of our business, we’ve put together this list of common terms. Knowing what these terms mean will help us communicate with one another better. You’ll also be able to make informed decisions when you want to install or upgrade home comfort equipment.

HVAC. This is an acronym for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning. It’s an abbreviated way of describing the services we offer.

Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). This measures how efficiently a heating system converts fuel into heating energy. A system with an 85% AFUE will convert 85 cents of every heating dollar into warming your home. Compare that to an old, less efficient system with a 65% AFUE, where 65 cents of every dollar warms your home; the rest is expelled out the chimney or flue.

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). This is the cooling counterpart of AFUE. Each SEER represents the number of Btu’s of cooling per watt of electricity used. The more cooling you can get out of a watt of electricity, the less you’ll spend. So the higher the SEER, the more efficient a cooling system will be. If your system is less than 14 SEER, you may benefit from an upgrade.

BTU. This is an acronym for British Thermal Unit. It can be used to describe the energy content of different heating fuels (propane, oil, natural gas, electricity). However, we use BTU to describe the power of heating and cooling systems. It’s a lot like helping you determine how much horsepower you want in your car so it always performs to your satisfaction.

Sizing a system. This doesn’t mean the equipment we install comes in small, medium and large sizes. Sizing a system refers to BTU output. The purpose of sizing is to maximize comfort and efficiency. To determine this, one thing we look at is heat gain or loss, or the amount of heat a home gains in the summer or loses in the winter. This is just one way we figure how much BTU power your home’s heating or cooling system needs.