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What is HVAC? That is a question that many have asked and few can fully explain.  While most people have heard of HVAC systems, some do not know what the acronym stands for and why an efficient HVAC system is important to a home or workplace. HVAC stands for heating, ventilating, and air conditioning. In short, an HVAC system heats and cools an indoor environment or a vehicular environment. It aims to create thermal comfort and clean, high-quality indoor air. HVAC systems are designed by mechanical engineers who build them with three key principles in mind: thermodynamics, heat transfer, and fluid mechanics.

What Is HVAC: Heating

HVAC systems typically heat an indoor environment with central heating. This entails a furnace, boiler or heat pump to warm water, air or steam in a central place like a home’s furnace room or a building’s mechanical room. The system draws in fresh air from the outdoors through a vent. This air is sent to the indoor heat exchanger section to create positive air pressure. The vent’s opening can be adjusted to manipulate the amount of fresh air that makes up the return air. Fresh air intake is usually around 10 percent. The heat that the furnace generates is then transferred through convection or conduction throughout the building by way of ducts and vents. Without an HVAC system, homes and businesses would have to rely on inefficient means of heating like space heaters and fireplaces.

What IS HVAC: Air Conditioning

The air conditioning component of an HVAC system provides both cool air and humidity control for a building. HVAC system cooling occurs with the removal of heat through radiation, conduction or convection. Refrigerants are sent through a pump system where a compressor is used to create a thermodynamic refrigeration cycle. Or, refrigerants can be used in a free cooling system that makes use of pumps to create cool air. Air is distributed throughout the indoor environment by way a central air conditioning system of ducts and vents. Without cool air created by an HVAC system, people would have to rely on less efficient sources to produce cool air like fans and small window mounted air conditioners.

What Is HVAC: Ventilation

While many people understand that their HVAC systems heat and cool their homes, some do not understand that these systems are also critical for providing the proper ventilation. Ventilating changes (replaces) air in an indoor environment to ensure that there is high-quality, clean and safe air to breath. An HVAC system’s ventilation component removes nasty smells, smoke, carbon dioxide, unnecessary moisture, dust, bacteria and other contaminants from the air circulating throughout the building.

It helps to prevent indoor air from becoming too stagnant by constantly replenishing oxygen. It introduces outside air and also circulates the air that is already in the building. The ventilation system creates room air distribution by ensuring that air is removed and delivered from spaces within a building on a regular basis. Without a functioning ventilation component, an HVAC system would merely be able to heat and cool indoor living environments but not filter out impurities.  The ventilation system creates a comfortable environment where fresh air is constantly cycled in and stale air is sent out.

Every building can benefit from an HVAC system. It is an efficient means of generating warm and cool air while consistently supplying the indoor space with an influx of fresh air. While an HVAC system requires an up front investment, it will ensure the continuous comfort of those residing or working in the building.