Making sense of heating and cooling terminology

When my husband and I started working on the plans to build a new house, we wanted to make sure we made smart decisions. One of the biggest debates was over how to handle heating and cooling. I spent hours researching the different manufacturers and styles of heating and cooling equipment. I learned that when it comes to temperature control options, there are lots of acronyms, and it took me a while to figure them all out. At times, these initials made things confusing. I’m rather embarrassed to admit that I wasn’t entirely what HVAC stands for. I now know that those initials represent Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioner and covers everything from furnaces and air conditioners to heat pumps, boilers and more. MERV indicates the minimum efficiency value of the various air filters, and the scale ranges from one to sixteen. One is the least efficient, and the higher number means the filter has tinier holes to trap a greater number and smaller particles. HSPF stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Fact and represents the efficiency of electric heat pumps. However, the heat pump’s seasonal heating output is measured in BTU’s. This number is divided by the amount of energy it consumes in watt-hours to determine the HSPF. SEER is used to indicate air conditioner efficiency and stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The higher the SEER rating, the less it’s going to cost to run the air conditioner. Currently, air conditioners are required to achieve a minimum of 13 SEER and there are models that offer up to 26 SEER. AFUE is the acronym for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency and measures the thermal efficiency of furnaces and water heaters.


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