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What does HVAC stand forThose of you who want to learn more about the way climate control works in your building might find a lot of the available information a bit over your head. Sometimes, the hardest part of learning new things is finding simple explanations for basic terminology. Once you’ve learned a few key terms, the rest often comes much more easily. Fortunately, there are resources out there for beginners—like this one! If you’ve ever had questions such as “what does HVAC stand for?” or wondered about the essential functions of your HVAC system, then you’ll want to give this guide a quick read. We’ll provide an overview of key HVAC terms (including HVAC itself), then give you some foundational knowledge you can use to keep your system in better shape and hire qualified pros for help when the need arises.

So, You Haven’t Answered My Question: What Does HVAC Stand For?

I get it—you’re still wondering, “what does HVAC mean?” Well, here we go: HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. It’s an expression that is frequently used in residential climate control since each of these three functions is usually handled by a central system in most modern homes. If you have central heating and air, then you have an HVAC system. These systems are typically used because they offer greater convenience than having multiple systems, and they can effectively alter the temperature throughout your entire home.

However, owning an HVAC can come at a cost. HVAC systems have the potential to use loads of energy. In fact, they’re often responsible for 48 percent of the utility costs in an average US home. However, in areas across the country that are prone to extreme temperatures throughout significant portions of the year, owning an HVAC is a practical necessity. HVAC systems improve the air quality in your home, and help maintain a temperature that keeps you comfortable and safe—no matter how hot or cold it is outside.

HVACs and Energy Efficiency

So, HVACs are necessary for most American homes, but they can also be expensive? That might make it sound as if you have to choose between financial and physical discomfort, but don’t be discouraged. What many people don’t realize is that you can bring down the costs of owning and operating an HVAC significantly with a few simple strategies. Learn a few more basic terms, and you’ll be well on your way to understanding how you can have an affordable and effective HVAC system.

Btu and You: An Overview

Sorry for the internal rhyming in the subtitle—we thought it might be the only way to make you interested in Btu. British thermal units are frequently mentioned by HVAC professionals, but most people in the general population don’t pay much attention to them. That’s too bad though because Btu can save you a lot of money and hardship when choosing your HVAC system.

Every air conditioner and furnace have a Btu rating that makes it appropriate for use in a corresponding amount of indoor space. Calculating the right space for a system with a particular Btu rating is challenging and should usually be undertaken by an HVAC service professional. However, if you remember to ask your technician about the Btu rating of the system they’re about to install, you can prevent yourself from winding up with one that is improperly sized for your space. Some contractors say that as many as 80% of the homes they visit have improperly sized systems. A system that isn’t sized correctly can experience breakdowns much more frequently than usual, and use too much power to heat or cool your home. Either of these problems can make your HVAC system more expensive than it needs to be.

DIY Fixes and When to Call the Pros

Now that you understand two of the most common terms in the HVAC world, you can orient yourself a little better during discussions with technicians. Do you always need a technician to keep your system running? No, but you’ll absolutely need one sometimes. The trick is knowing when.

There are plenty of things you can do by yourself that will help your HVAC system perform efficiently and prevent malfunctions. Keep the filters on your outdoor unit clean, and replace them every month during periods of heavy use. Check the area around your outdoor unit for debris each weekend, and look over your ductwork periodically to make sure there are no visible leaks. For most other problems though, you’ll want to call a contractor. In fact, it’s beneficial to have a licensed professional over to your home once or twice a year to diagnose your system and fix small issues before they have a chance to become major ones.

You’ll never have to ask, “what does HVAC stand for?” again, but that’s not the only benefit of learning some basic terms. Having some background knowledge about what an HVAC is can help you learn how best to care for a system in your home. Use this guide as a starting point, then branch out and teach yourself information you can use to perform simple fixes and hire contractors with ease.