HVAC Terms to Know

By: Brian Schutt  |  November 14, 2018

Whether you’re in the market for a heating and cooling system or not, it’s important to know certain HVAC terms. In this blog, we’ll cover some of the basics. They’ll help you evaluate a future purchase as well as the performance of your current system. In this installment, we’ll break down the meaning behind basics such as NATE, SEER, AFUE, and more.


Let’s get warmed up with the most basic of HVAC terms. HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning. Sometimes, you’ll see the acronym HVACR, which is the same with “Refrigeration” tacked on.

If you’re just starting on your own or just purchased your first home, you may have been unsure. It’s okay. A lot of people don’t realize the “V,” for example, stands for Ventilation. It is, however, extremely important.

You’ll find ventilation and airflow are major aspects of the operation and efficiency of your heating and cooling system. If the ventilation or airflow is compromised, your comfort suffers, it strains your system and your energy bills climb.


NATE is one of our favorite HVAC terms. It stands for North American Technician Excellence. It is an HVACR technician certification program. When technicians are NATE-certified, you trust they know what they’re doing and the job is done right the first time.

To maintain certification, technicians are required to complete ongoing training and accreditation. This helps them stay up to date with emerging technology. There are four levels a technician may attain, ranging from an entry-level, for someone starting in the field, to Senior Level Efficiency Analyst Certification.

This is reserved for a professional with a minimum of five years in the industry, who has previously earned two NATE service certifications, one in heating and one in cooling. After successful completion of a comprehensive exam, they earn Senior status.


When it comes to air conditioning, SEER is crucial among HVAC terms. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. Remember ratios from math class? The SEER rating of an AC unit is the output of cooling over a normal cooling season, divided by the total electric energy input during the same period.

Therefore, the higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the AC unit. Legislation in the United States has pushed minimum SEER levels higher. The current minimum is 13 to 14 SEER, depending on the user’s region and climate.

The maximum for a traditional central air system currently tops out around 23, such as the DX20VOC from Daikin home comfort products.

Ductless heat pump units, however, can achieve over 26 SEER. Traditionally, ductless units generate better SEER because they don’t risk losing energy through ducts.

Geothermal units, depending on the local ground source, may achieve even more.


AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Use Efficiency. In HVAC terms, the AFUE measures the percentage of efficiency of the fuel used to produce energy or heat. Therefore, the higher the AFUE, the more efficiently the furnace or heat pump produces heat. It was common for homes to have a furnace with an 80 percent AFUE as recently as ten years ago.

Now, a family can purchase or upgrade to a gas-fueled heating unit with more than 98 percent AFUE rating. What a difference! It means out of every dollar spent on heating, 98 cents of it generates fuel.

In the aforementioned 80 percent example, twenty cents of every dollar vanishes out the flue or chimney.

HVAC Terms in Action in Indianapolis: Homesense

If you’re a homeowner in Indianapolis or suburbs such as Brownsburg, Homesense is available for your HVAC service, repair and installation needs. We also work closely with property managers and real estate investors on heating and air issues.

Have you scheduled HVAC service lately? If not, call us at 317-203-8149. Our team performs comprehensive inspections during each service visit. An expert technician identifies any signs of stress, which can prevent a big repair or breakdown. They are also enthusiastic to educate, so feel free to quiz them on HVAC terms or any HVAC topic you’re curious about.

With regular service, your heating and cooling equipment operates efficiently and safely. In addition, our technicians are thoroughly trained and certified to repair any brand. We care about your safety and comfort, so please call us when you need help.

Regardless of the age of your HVAC system, we encourage you to take advantage of our preventative heating and air service agreement. It’s a great value – saving on hassles, time and money.

Call Homesense at 317-203-8149 or submit an appointment request form today.

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