Question MarkThe world of HVAC can be overwhelming. Heating and cooling systems are complex and the industry itself comes with a language of its own. From AFUE to HRV, it’s no surprise that most homeowners ignore all this crazy lingo!

To help homeowners, we have broken down what some of the HVAC acronyms stand for and what they are used for.

HVAC: Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning

Let’s start with the basics, HVAC stands for “heating, ventilation and air conditioning.” These three functions are often combined into one system to heat and cool homes and buildings.

AFUE: Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency

AFUE, examines the efficiency of a furnace by measuring the percentage of heat delivered into a home from each unit of fuel used. Make sense?

Tip: The higher the AFUE percentage, the more efficient a furnace is.

The minimum rating for newly installed furnaces is 90%, but the most efficient furnaces have AFUE ratings of up to 96%.

BTU/h: British Thermal Units per Hour

A BTU is a basic measure of thermal (heat) energy. The BTU per hour (BTU/h) describes the energy produced (as heat) or removed (by air conditioning) in one hour.

One kw/h equals 3412 BTU/h.

SEER: Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio

The SEER rating measures the efficiency of air conditioners and heat pumps to help homeowners know how much energy their system is currently using. The higher the SEER, the less energy it will use, which means lower utility bills for you and less of an impact on the environment!

HRV: Heat Recovery Ventilator

An HRV is integrated into a home’s ductwork, usually located near the furnace. It expels stale indoor air to the outside, and draws in fresh air to be distributed throughout the home.

HRVs are traditionally installed in cooler climates to ventilate homes in the winter. Pretty cool, right?

ERV: Energy-Recovery Ventilator

An ERV is a special type of ventilation system that controls the extremes of humidity in the incoming fresh air. They are normally used in warmer climates or when you want to ventilate during the summer.

MERV: Minimum Efficiency Rating Value

MERV ratings measure 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 the air inside a home.

However, it is important to keep in mind that higher MERV ratings are not always a good thing. Furnaces are built to operate with certain airflows, so using a different air filter than what it was built for can cause problems.  

To find out what kind of MERV you currently have, check the side of your filter, the packaging it came in or contact us!

ECM: Electronically Commutated Motor

ECM refers to the type of blower motor found on most new furnaces and on pumps on boiler systems. The ECM motor is made up of two main components: the motor and the motor control module. ECM motors are more efficient providing savings of 60-70% or more.

CFM: Cubic Feet per Minute

CFM is a measurement of the velocity at which air flows into or out of a space. This measurement is often used for measuring the airflow in heating or cooling diffusers. CFM is used as a rating and depends on the size of a room to ensure adequate ventilation.

Although these different HVAC acronyms can be quite complex, remember that they are designed to help you save money and make your home more comfortable. That’s why it’s better to work with them instead of against them!

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