Your HVAC system is responsible for keeping your Columbia, Maryland, home comfortable, but many people don’t understand the various aspects of their systems. With all the terminology associated with the HVAC industry, it’s no surprise that you may not know what everything means or how it operates. Even if you have only a basic understanding of your HVAC system, these are terms every homeowner should know.

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)

You may have heard the term “HVAC” often, but did you know it stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning? Your HVAC system goes beyond just your heater or air conditioner. HVAC companies cover most issues concerning the comfort of your home. HVAC technicians are trained to repair all different types of systems. Whether you have a ductless system, a heat pump, or even window units in your home, the term “HVAC” covers all the above. 

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER)

You’ve probably noticed that your air conditioner has a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating. This SEER rating tells you how efficient your air conditioner is. The higher the SEER rating for your system, the more efficiently your system will work. A SEER rating is calculated by dividing the cooling output by the electricity input of your system. SEER ratings tend to be between 13 and 22, with anything more than 20 being a highly efficient system.

Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE)

Your Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) is similar to your air conditioner’s SEER rating, but is for your furnace instead. AFUE ratings are standard on furnaces, boilers, and water heaters. The AFUE rating is actually a percentage, found by measuring useful output and energy input. A higher percentage means the system transfers a greater amount of energy input into energy production. Be careful, however, since a high AFUE percentage doesn’t necessarily mean the system is the most efficient option for your home.

Heat Pump

Heat pumps are becoming more popular throughout the United States as a heating and air conditioning option for those who live in areas with milder climates. Heat pumps differ from furnaces because they actually transfer air instead of creating warm air. Heat pumps are much more efficient than furnaces, assuming that the weather is mild. Meanwhile, split systems are becoming more common in harsher climates. In these systems, the heat pump is paired with a secondary system designed to handle the colder weather.


The ductwork in your home (assuming you have it) is also part of your HVAC system and helps to deliver air throughout your home. The purpose of ductwork is to evenly spread warm and cold air throughout your home — instead of heating or cooling just one or two rooms. Although ductwork can be found in most homes, some people are opting for ductless systems, which put individual systems in different rooms. Depending on the climate, a ductless system may be a more efficient option for some families. 

Energy Star

One of the biggest catchphrases in the industry is “going green,” and having Energy Star appliances is a big part of that. Energy Star is a program developed by the Environmental Protection Agency that aims at lowering our carbon footprint. If an appliance is labeled Energy Star, that means it meets certain benchmarks set by the EPA. Energy Star appliances help to save energy, which in turn saves you money on your monthly utility bills.

Indoor Air Quality 

Indoor air quality (IAQ) measures how clean your air is inside your home. Most people don’t give much thought to it, but poor IAQ can have significant health consequences. A certified professional can test your home’s IAQ and make suggestions for improving it. These recommendations may include regularly dusting and sweeping, opening the windows when the weather is mild, changing your air filters, and having your HVAC system maintained regularly.

If you want to learn more about how your HVAC system operates or have questions about specific industry-related terms, we’re the right people to call. Whether you’re interested in upgrading your HVAC system or just want some more information, call Griffith Energy Services, Inc. at 888-474-3391. 

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