Learning the Language of HVAC

July 25, 2023

There are many different terms used in the HVAC industry today. Learning these terms and what they mean can provide a deeper understanding of how your heating and cooling equipment helps maintain indoor comfort. If you have more questions about HVAC terms and what they mean for your home’s heating and cooling system, your Columbus HVAC expert will be happy to provide personalized assistance and advice.


AFUE stands for Annualized Fuel Utilization Efficiency. This term is a measure of the average efficiency with which your furnace, boiler, or heat pump produces heated air. AFUE is a percentage that states how much of the system’s input fuel is converted into heating for your home. The higher the AFUE percentage, the more efficient your heating system is.


SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, measures the cooling efficiency of your air conditioning system, such as a central air conditioner or heat pump. The SEER value is an average of your HVAC system’s cooling output divided by the total energy input. Thus, a higher SEER value indicates how efficient a cooling system is that is converting energy into cooled air for your home.

Air Handler

An air handler is a mechanical system designed to push heated or cooled air through the ductwork of your home. Your air handler is generally part of your furnace, but it is also shared by your air conditioner during the summer to cool your home. If you have a heat pump system in your home, your heat pump will have its own air handler.

Hybrid Heating System

A hybrid or duel fuel heating system is comprised of both a heat pump and a traditional oil or gas furnace. The purpose of such as system is to minimize the amount of energy required to heat your home. When temperatures are mild, your heat pump will produce heat for your home at a fraction of the energy usage of a furnace. However, when the temperature dips too low for the heat pump to efficiently heat your home, the furnace takes over the heating load. When the temperature rises once more, your heat pump will resume function.


HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) is a term used specifically for heat pumps. Like AFUE and SEER, HSPF is a measure of efficiency. The higher your heat pump’s HSPF, the more efficiently it will convert energy into heating or cooling.


Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV, is a system of measurement that pertains to HVAC filters. A filter’s MERV rating correlates to the size of the holes in the filter that screen out airborne particles; higher MERV ratings correspond to smaller holes. Thus, air filters with a higher MERV rating will screen out smaller particles from your home’s air.

Split Systems

A split HVAC system involves components that are placed both inside and outside your home. This term generally refers to air conditioning systems that include an indoor evaporator and an outdoor compressor. Split systems may or may not need ducts to provide cool air for your home.

The terms above can help you to understand the efficiency and function of the HVAC system that provides heated and cooled air for your Columbus home. Choosing a high-efficiency, energy-saving HVAC system can help you save money while maintaining indoor comfort all year long. Check out our blog for more information about heating and cooling, or visit us on the web to check out the HVAC products and services we offer.

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Last Updated: July 25, 2023