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HVAC Glossary of Terms: Annual Fuel Ultilization Efficiency. Used to express the efficiency of gas furnaces. The high the AFUE rating, the more efficiency unit.
Federal law has required that all new residential furnaces built after January 1992 operate with an AFUE of 78% or higher. All mid and high efficiency furnaces are manufactured to exceed these requirements with a minimum AFUE of 80%.
If your furnace was built before 1992, chances are it is operating with an average efficiency of around 60%. Most of the heat is lost up the chimney or out the exhaust vent - devices used by older furnaces to expel dangerous fumes created by the furnace, such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, aldehydes, and even soot.
Modern furnaces use more technologically advanced venting techniques to achieve greater energy efficiency. An important note: Be sure to ask your installing contractor if your chimney or exhaust vent is suitable for use with your new equipment.
AHRI The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) is the trade association representing manufacturers of air conditioning, heating and commercial refrigeration equipment. AHRI’s 300+ member companies account for more than 90 percent of the residential and commercial air conditioning, space heating, water heating, and commercial refrigeration equipment manufactured and sold in North America..
CAPACITY Usually measured in BTUs or tons, capacity refers to an air conditioning or heating unit's ability to cool or heat a space. For instance, a 20-ton air conditioning unit has twice the capacity of a 10-ton unit.
COMPRESSOR The compressor plays an integral role in cooling your home. It is the device responsible for pumping refrigerant through the refrigerant lines and the coil, making the transfer of heat from inside your house to the outdoors possible.
COP The Coefficient of Performance rates a heat pump's ability to efficiently use electricity in its operation. The Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute provides the Coefficient of Performance at 47 degrees Fahrenheit and 17 degrees Fahrenheit. This is because a heat pump is more efficient at higher, outside-air temperatures.
DUCT/DUCTWORK/DUCTING A central heating and air conditioning system uses many components to heat or cool air. This warm or cool air is then transferred to different registers throughout the house via special, flexible, large-diameter pipes or ducts. The system of ducts throughout your house is often referred to as ductwork or ducting.
EER Energy Efficiency Ratio. The ratio of the cooling capacity of the air conditioner in BTUs per hour to the total electrical input in watts. This measure is determined by comparing test units to the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute specifications.
EFFICIENCY A general term used to describe how effectively a heat pump, air conditioning system, or furnace converts incoming energy to outgoing energy. The higher the number, the more efficient the unit, and the lower the operating costs.
EVAPORATOR COIL/EVAPORATOR An integral part of the indoor unit of a heat pump or air conditioning system. So called because when warm air passes over a coil filled with liquid refrigerant, the refrigerant itself evaporates and absorbs some of the heat. This gas refrigerant is then pumped to the outdoor coil, where it releases heat into the surrounding air and returns to its liquid state.
HORIZONTAL FLOW A term used to describe the direction of airflow through a furnace. A horizontal flow furnace takes return air from one side, heats it, and then delivers the warm air from the other side.
HUMIDIFIER Usually available as an optional accessory, a humidifier is used to inject water vapor into the dry, heated air expelled from a furnace/air handler. The benefits can be improved efficiency and a more comfortable living environment.
INDOOR COILS Split-system home comfort systems use two main components to deliver air for a comfortable living environment. The indoor coil is the device responsible for transferring heat from indoors to the outdoors (or the reverse in the case of a heat pump in heating mode). Most modern systems are designed to achieve maximum efficiency when the indoor unit (coils and blower) is properly matched with the outdoor unit (air conditioner or heat pump). For best results, be sure to replace both the indoor and outdoor units at the same time.
MODULATING FURNACES Furnaces are designed to deliver maximum heat for comfort on the coldest of days. In most cases, those days account for fewer than three percent of winter days. The rest of the time, your furnace is providing more heat than necessary.
Because conventional furnaces are either providing no heat, or at full capacity, the temperature in your house goes up and down by several degrees, adversely affecting your comfort and your energy bills.
Modulating furnaces solve this problem by varying the amount and temperature of air delivered between different capacities, so that the air flowing out of the registers is always at the temperature you determine. This results in lower operating costs, more comfortable temperatures throughout the house and quieter operation.
SEER Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. Used to express the efficiency of an air conditioning unit, or a heat pump in cooling mode. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the unit. The Department of Energy minimum is 13 SEER.
SRN The Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute performs tests and assigns a Sound Rating Number (SRN) to units. A lower SRN rating indicates a quieter unit with average SRNs of between 74dB and 80dB..
THERMOSTAT A temperature-measuring device used to control the operation of home comfort systems to maintain a comfortable temperature within the house. Programmable thermostats allow you to program different temperatures for different times of the day.
TON The ton ratings you see here have nothing to do with the weight of the unit. In fact a ton is simply 12,000 BTUs (see BTU definition on this page). A typical home cooling/heating system uses heat pumps or air conditioners with a capacity of between 1.5 and 5 tons.
ZONE/ZONING A home may be divided into several different areas, or zones, to better control the temperatures throughout the house. The process of dividing your home into different zones is called zoning.