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HVAC 101: What Every Homeowner Should Know

HVAC systems heat and cool the home year round using products like furnaces, air conditioners, heat pumps, and thermostats. Every homeowner should know how the system works, variables affecting cost, and maintenance requirements.

Factors That Affect Cost

The home’s location will determine what type of system is best for maintaining comfortable indoor temperatures and for saving energy. In addition, installation costs may vary across the country.

The size of the home and the layout will also determine how large the HVAC system needs to be. Older homes may need certain modifications to accommodate a newer HVAC system.

Smart thermostats can enhance the overall air quality in the home. Though they are an added cost, they can help conserve energy and lower costs over the long run.

Types of HVAC Products 

A furnace has four main components:

  1. Furnace to deliver and burn fuel
  2. Heat exchangers
  3. Blower
  4. Flue

An air conditioner draws heat from the home and transfers it outdoors, while a heat pump uses outdoor air to heat a home.

Ductless systems can include window units and only heat or cool one room. 

Thermostats can be either traditional or smart. Smart thermostats integrate with other smart home systems and learn the patterns of HVAC needs to increase efficiency and cut costs.

Key Terms

The following terms are used to describe HVAC systems, components, and measurements:

  • AFUE measures the efficiency of a furnace in converting heat to energy; a higher percentage indicates a higher efficiency
  • SEER refers to the efficiency of an AC or heat pump; a higher percentage indicates a higher efficiency
  • HSPF is the heating efficiency rating for heat pumps; an HSPF of 8 or more is highly efficient
  • Split System units have an outdoor unit and an indoor unit
  • Packaged System are units that house heating and/or cooling components in a single cabinet
  • ENERGY STAR is a label applied to energy-efficient products

When to Schedule Maintenance

Routine maintenance should be done at least twice a year. The heating system should be serviced in late summer or early fall, before the heating season begins, while the air conditioner system should be serviced in late winter or early spring, before summer.

Homeowners are encouraged to reach out to Tucker Hill for professional HVAC maintenance and repairs.

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