HVAC Terms All Homeowners Should Know

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Owning a home is a big responsibility and it’s important to get familiar with these basic HVAC terms and abbreviations.


HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. HVAC is the technology that maintains indoor environmental comfort in buildings, both residential and commercial.

HVAC terms and abbreviations

Indoor Air Quality

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) refers to the cleanliness and health of the air in your home. IAQ factors include particulate count (pollen, mold), humidity and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in a home’s air – all of which can aggravate allergy and asthma symptoms.

We are the experts when it comes to indoor air quality! Learn all things indoor air quality by checking out our previous post, The Rundown on Indoor Air Quality.

Ductwork or Ducts

Ductwork or Ducts are hollow pipes used to transfer air from the air handler to the vents throughout your home. The air handler is like the heart and the ductwork are the veins. They are one of the most important components of a home heating and cooling system. If a room in your house is not heating or cooling correctly or air is not passing through the vents, there could be an issue with your ducts.


A piece of equipment that adds water vapor to heated air as it moves out of the furnace. This adds necessary moisture to protect your furnishings and reduce static electricity.

Looking for more information about humidifiers and humidity? We have you covered! Check out our blog post, Ideal Home Humidity.


The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value is the standard comparison of the efficiency of an air filter. The MERV scale ranges from 1 (least efficient) to 16 (most efficient), and measures a filter’s ability to remove particles from 3 to 10 microns in size.

Changing your furnace filter is extremely important and a quick, easy way to maintain your hvac system. Learn more about MERV ratings, fiberglass vs pleated filters, plus more at our blog post, All About Air Filters.


SEER stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio. A SEER rating measures air conditioning cooling efficiency, which is calculated by the cooling output divided by the total electric energy input during a typical cooling season.

The higher the SEER rating, the higher the efficiency. A great comparison is if you think of SEER like miles per gallon (mpg) for your car. The higher the SEER rating, the higher the MPG. SEER ratings range from 13 to 21. A higher SEER rating will mean a higher level of comfort and lower monthly energy costs, but the upfront cost of the unit will be higher.


AFUE stands for the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency of heating equipment. Think furnaces, boilers and heating units that burn oil, gas or propane. Indicated as a percentage, your furnace’s AFUE tells you how much energy is being converted to heat. For example, an AFUE of 90 means that 90% of the fuel is being used to warm your home, while the other 10% escapes as exhaust with combustion gases. The higher the AFUE, the higher the efficiency of your furnace.

HVAC terms and abbreviations can be confusing. If you have any questions about HVAC abbreviations or terms, give us a call and speak to an On the Mark specialist!

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