Heating and air conditioning can eat up a large chunk of your monthly budget. Whether you’re building a new home or just upgrading an older one, the decision of which HVAC system to buy is a decision that will impact your comfort and budget for a long time. The options can seem endless and the terms thrown around by HVAC personnel can be confusing. Here’s some help for deciphering the mumbo-jumbo.
This is an acronym that stands for “heating, ventilation, and air conditioning”. Basically, it stands for any system that’s involved with heating or cooling a building. It includes central air conditioning units, furnaces, heat pumps, air filtration systems, ductwork, and dehumidifiers.
This is an all-in-one central HVAC unit, in which the condenser, compressor, and evaporator are all contained in one unit—hence the term “packaged”. This type of unit often sits on a roof.
A split system has an indoor unit containing an evaporator and an outdoor unit containing a condenser and a compressor. A refrigerant line connects the indoor and outdoor units. The indoor unit also often contains a furnace.
Ducts transfer air between HVAC components. They supply air to the system and remove air from it. Ductwork is built into the walls, ceilings, and crawl spaces of a new house or other structure when it is being built.
A retrofit is when a new system is being installed into an existing building. In this case, the HVAC system has to be adjusted to work with the existing structure and duct system. In some cases—particularly in older homes—there is no existing duct system and a mini-split ductless system is installed to achieve a central HVAC system.
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER)
This is a rating system for air conditioners that measures how much energy they use. The higher the SEER rating, the lower you utility bill will be. If an air conditioner has a SEER efficiency level of 14 or more, it may qualify for the Energy Star label. Keep in mind, however, that a SEER rating is not guaranteed—the efficiency of your system also depends on whether you have equipment that is the right size for your home and that is installed correctly.
Now, when you talk to a heating and air conditioning specialist about a new system, you’ll be able to make a better decision about the type of system that will fit your home. Make sure you choose the system that will be friendly to your budget and comfort over the long term.