HVAC Terminology Every Homeowner Should Be Familiar With
Aside from the roof and the utility lines that run into your home, the most important piece of a house is the HVAC system. You can easily paint the walls, redecorate, switch out the fixtures or install new carpeting, and though all of them are fantastic options they won’t make a huge difference practically speaking. The HVAC, or heating, ventilation and air conditioning system is basically the arteries of livability in your house. It’s what keeps you cool in the summer, warm in the winter and breathing quality air all year round. If you’ve only rented previously you might not have much experience with these systems. You had what you had, and it was the landlord that held the power to schedule maintenance or make upgrades. Now that it’s on you it’s time to familiarize yourself more intimately with the workings of your HVAC system. And that starts by understanding the lingo. Here is some of the HVAC terminology every homeowner should be familiar with.
First on the list is SEER. That acronym stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, and it’s the number one variable that impacts your utility bills. The SEER number measures how much energy your HVAC system requires to effectively heat or cool your home. The higher the number, the more energy efficient the unit. You’re going to want to figure out the SEER number for your current system, and perhaps make a change if it isn’t up to snuff. For some reference, new units are required to leave the factory with a SEER rating of at least thirteen.
The other crucial piece of terminology if you’re at all interested in lowering your utility bills is Energy Star. Perhaps you’ve seen this listed on some appliance boxes at the store, and think it’s just some sort of marketing ploy to gain consumer interest. But Energy Star is actually an official government rating. For any HVAC unit to carry the Energy Star seal it has to meet a certain standard of energy efficiency. You’ll find all sorts of devices with the Energy Star rating, from television sets to dehumidifiers. It’s always a good idea to purchase a HVAC unit that’s been Energy Star rated if you can afford the upgrade.
Now that you’ve got the basic standards down, it’s time to consider the parts of your heating system. The furnace is the most crucial piece. This is almost always self contained, and runs off of some sort of fossil fuel. The most common furnaces use oil or natural gas, but there are propane models as well. The furnace is the machine that generates the heat that warms your home during the wintertime. The furnace heats air that is delivered by a blower or an air handler, which is basically a pump that brings in cool air and then sends out the warmed air into your ductwork. The same system will deliver cold air thanks to a heat exchanger or a condensing coil. When you use the thermostat on the wall to adjust the temperature the evaporator coil, in conjunction with a thermal expansion valve actually adds or removes heat to the air blowing through the furnace.