When one of our NATE-certified technicians at McGowan’s Heating & Air Conditioning arrives at your Daytona Beach, FL, home, you might hear some unusual terminology. The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry uses some technical terms when referring to different pieces of equipment, how they work, what they do and how they’re rated. Knowing this common HVAC terminology could help you understand more about your own heating and air conditioning system. Our technicians at McGowan’s Heating & Air Conditioning always take the time to answer any questions you have during a Daytona Beach service call to your home. Here are some common HVAC terms you might hear us say during one of these routine visits for your heating or cooling system.
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
IAQ refers to how clean a structure’s air is. Indoor air pollutants include bacteria, viruses, radon, mold spores, mildew, oil droplets, radon, formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds, smoke, ash and more. The more polluted the indoor air is, the more difficult it is for a person to breathe. High levels of indoor air pollution cause a range of short-term health problems, such as respiratory infections, allergy and asthma attacks, fatigue, nausea, dizziness and shortness of breath. Long-term exposure to poor IAQ may lead to heart disease, lung disease and cancer.
Minimum Efficiency Reported Value (MERV)
MERV is a measure of how heating, ventilation and air conditioners are rated. MERV ratings range from 1 to 20. The higher the MERV rating on an air filter, the smaller the particles it can capture. A MERV rating of 8 captures 70% to 85% of larger particles, such as dust, mold spores and pollen. Filters with a MERV rating of 12 capture 80% to 89% of medium-sized particles, such as led dust from paint and automotive dust and more than 90% of the dust, mold and pollen. Filters with a MERV rating of 16 capture 95% or more of tiny particles, such as bacteria 0.3 microns in size. They capture 90% or more of tobacco smoke and sneeze particles.
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER)
SEER is a measure of the total amount of cooling provided by a central air conditioner or heat pump during the summer months of the year in a moderate climate compared to the total amount of electricity consumed during the same amount of time. The cooling output is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs), and the electrical input is measured in watt-hours.
Heat Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF)
The HSPF rating is for a heat pump’s heating efficiency. Heat pumps are generally recommended for moderate climates with winters that don’t frequently have temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. HSPF measures the total amount of heating output, measured in BTUs of a heat pump and its backup heating element can deliver during the normal heating season compared to the total amount of watt-hours of electricity consumed in the same amount of time. HSPF is the winter equivalent of the summertime SEER rating. If you’re buying a heat pump for your Daytona Beach home, you’ll want to focus on the SEER because this area has long, hot and humid summers and shorter, milder winters. For a place further north, such as Pennsylvania, both SEER and HSPF would be considered equally.
Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE)
The AFUE rating is a measure of how efficient a gas furnace is at converting natural gas into heat for your home. It’s a ratio of heat output to energy input. The higher the AFUE rating, the lower your heating costs will be. Furnaces made 30 years ago may only have a 60% AFUE rating. Today’s newest, most efficient furnaces may have an AFUE of 95% or more.
An air handler is the indoor portion of an air conditioning or heat pump system. It contains a circulating fan and an evaporator. It also has an air filter. For heat pumps, the air handler also includes a condenser coil that is only used in the wintertime. In some heat pumps, the air handler contains an emergency heating element. This backup heating system kicks in when the outdoor temperature is lower than 25 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. It uses electrical resistance heating, which is more costly than the heat transfer performed by the heat pump’s usual functions.
Air conditioners and heat pumps set to the cooling function condense moisture out of your home’s air. This happens because warm air holds more moisture than cold air. When the warm air passes over the cold evaporator coil, the water condenses from the gas state to a liquid state. The liquid has to go somewhere, and that place is the condensate line. The condensate line drains the condensed water out of the heat pump or central air conditioning system and releases it into your home’s wastewater or main sewer line. A clogged condensate line could trigger a water backup and major damage to the cooling system.
Airflow volume is a measure of how much air is circulated in an enclosed space. The unit of measure is cubic feet per minute. The higher the air volume, the more air is circulated. If your home has an IAQ issue or you’re trying to figure out which heat pump, air conditioner or furnace to buy, airflow volume may be a consideration. Larger homes generally need a higher airflow volume.
Energy Star is a joint program administered by the United States Department of Energy and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. It’s a completely voluntary program. Manufacturers can use the guidelines when designing and building heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration and other appliances for residential or commercial use. Systems with the Energy Star rating use 30% less electricity or fuel to perform the same functions compared to a similar device without the Energy Star rating. Consumers can use the Energy Star certification system to choose products that will save money and reduce their carbon footprint.
A heat pump is similar to an air conditioner. The difference is that the flow of refrigerant can be reversed, allowing it to absorb heat from the outdoors and transfer it into your home during the winter months of the year. This allows a heat pump to perform both heating and cooling functions with just one piece of equipment. They typically have an indoor and outdoor unit and use ducts, just like an air conditioning system. There are geothermal heat pumps that use the consistent temperature of the Earth to transfer heat into and out of a home.
At McGowan’s Heating & Air Conditioning, we’re Daytona Beach’s trusted providers of heating and air conditioning repair, replacement, installation and maintenance services. Our skilled technicians also look forward to providing you with affordable air duct cleaning, indoor air quality solutions and attic insulation. If you’re a business owner, you can count on us for commercial heating, ventilation and air conditioning. To learn more about common HVAC terminology or to schedule any of our cost-effective services in Daytona Beach or the surrounding areas, call us at McGowan’s Heating & Air Conditioning today.