30 Terms for Montana Homeowners by Missoula HVAC Contractors

If you need work done on your HVAC system or are considering an upgrade, you will need to be familiar with the terms used by the technicians coming out to your home.  Let’s jump in!

Glossary of HVAC Terms

1.      Aeroseal – This is a method of sealing holes in a system of ducts to maximize the efficiency of the system.  Hiring Missoula HVAC contractors to help you seal the ducts in your home will lower your heating costs immediately, as well as help the air quality.

2.      Combi Boiler – This is a type of boiler that can heat water for a water-based heating system as well as for use in the rest of the home.  If you currently have a boiler, a Missoula HVAC contractor can retrofit your system to install a combi boiler for a more efficient, money-saving unit.

3.      Contractor – A company that hires technicians to install, service, or repair your HVAC system in your home or commercial property.

4.       Economizer – An HVAC component that enables a system to use suitable outside air to reduce how much the unit has to heat or cool.  The enthalpy of outside air can be utilized up to a certain amount to help the unit maintain a desired temperature in the living space.

5.       Electric Heat – This can be any sort of heater that is powered by electricity.  Heat pumps are typically electric powered, as well as mini splits and other easy-to-install heating systems.  There are electric-powered options for both furnaces and boilers as well.  Historically, electric heat is pretty inefficient, but modern technology has produced some incredibly efficient electric heating options.

6.      Energy Star – This is a certification developed by the EPA.  Products must meet strict efficiency guidelines in order to have this label on their product.  Not only will it save the consumer money and energy.

7.       Filter – Filters are found in many HVAC systems.  They keep the heating unit running smoothly by clearing out particles from the air or water before they enter the unit to be heated.  You can often replace your furnace or other heater’s filter yourself but may need to contact a Missoula HVAC Contractor to make sure you are getting the correct model.

8.       Gas Heat – This can denote any type of heat in which the heater itself is powered by gas.  Furnaces and boilers can both be powered by gas. However, it is important to know that when people say “gas heater,” they are commonly talking about a portable convection or radiant heater. 

9.      Heat Pump – This type of heater can function as both a heater in winter and as air conditioning in the summer.  It pulls heat from the air, and either sends it inside to heat the home or sends it outside to cool the home.  There are air-sourced and ground-sourced options.  Heat pumps can struggle in extreme temperatures and utilize auxiliary or emergency heat when necessary to ensure a comfortable temperature in homes.  

10.   Humidifier – Many people experience nosebleeds in winter as the cold air can become very dry.  If you have a forced air heating system, the air in your home can become even more devoid of moisture.  A humidifier is a simple solution, as it simply adds moisture to the ambient air in your home. 

11.   Louver – Louvers are similar in purpose to a dampener but can be manufactured to fit larger spaces.

12.   Mini Split – This is also known as a ductless heating system and is a common auxiliary heating system used in garages or older homes where large-scale HVAC installations are not practical.

13.   Primary Heat – When you have more than one source of heat in your home, the main one you rely on is considered the primary.  An example could be a furnace maintaining the main portion of your home with a mini split heating the sunroom.  In this case, the furnace is the primary heat.  Another option is a boiler and baseboard system heating the majority of your home with radiant floor heating installed in the bathroom and master bedroom.  In this case, the baseboards are the primary heat source.

14.   Propane Heat – These heaters are typically portable or semi-portable. They can be used inside or outside on a patio or deck.  Some require ventilation, while others are vent-free.  These typically do not require a Missoula HVAC contractor for installation.

15.   Radiant Floor Heat – Radiant floor heat is a type of heat that is installed in a floor to produce clean heat.  There are both water-based and electric radiant floor heating options. You can read more about maintenance and common repairs of Radiant Floor Heat.

16.   Refrigerant Charge – This denotes the amount of refrigerant in a system.

17.   Secondary Heat – The secondary or auxiliary heat source can be an additional heat source or a backup plan if your primary heat source malfunctions.  For example, many people have a boiler heating the main portion of their home and a mini-split in the garage.  The mini-split is the secondary heat source.  Another option for secondary heat is an electric portable unit that you can move from room to room.

18.   Smart Thermostat – These are becoming more common and are relatively inexpensive, especially considering the energy cost savings that you can accumulate.  You can program your thermostat to lower the living room temperature at night and raise it up in the morning 30 minutes before your alarm goes off.  You can set your home to lower the temperature while your family is out of the house at work and school and come back to a comfortable temperature at 4 p.m. so it will be comfortable when you arrive home.  Smart thermostats are programmable and often WIFI-enabled, allowing you to check and adjust the temperature in the home from an app on your smartphone.

19.   Smoke Damper – This is an adjustable piece of equipment installed as part of a fire suppression plan in a structure’s ventilation system.

20.   Sole Source of Heat – A sole source of heat is one that your home uses without any others. This does not mean that your entire home is heated, but simply that there is only one source. 

21.   Ventilation – The “V” in HVAC stands for ventilation.  This basically means airflow and is achieved through vents, often in the floor, in order to create comfortable air to live in.  Ventilation in commercial properties, such as laboratories or hospitals, can have complex ventilation systems to prevent dangerous chemical fumes or microbes from contaminating the breathed air or employees.

22.   Water-Based Heating System – This refers to a heating system that heats water to be hot or steaming and then sends it through a piping system to heat a home or structure.  This type of heating system typically uses a boiler in a back room.  This type of heating system can have radiators, baseboards, or radiant floor heating to spread the actual heat around the home.  This type of heating system needs to be maintained yearly by a Missoula HVAC contractor to ensure parts are working optimally.

23.   WIFI-Enabled Equipment – Whether a thermostat or other equipment, WIFI-enabled equipment gives you the ability to check the status and control your appliances from anywhere you have an internet connection. 

24.   Zoned Heating System – A way to adapt your HVAC system for more comfort and efficiency is to add zones.  For example, you can set your living room to 72 degrees and bedrooms to 68 degrees.  By only heating the rooms that you are currently spending time in, your heater does not have to use as much energy and experience as much wear and tear.  Contact a local Missoula HVAC contractor to find out your options to split your heating into zones.

Abbreviations and Acronyms

25.  AFUE – Annualized Fuel Utilization Efficiency is a rating used for furnaces and boilers. It denotes the percent of heat produced for every dollar of fuel consumed.

26.  BIM – A “Building Information Model” is a complex type of file that is used by contractors to plan a new build of a structure that can make the building process more efficient.  Having a BIM file for an existing structure can be extremely helpful when planning an addition or a renovation.

27.  EER – Energy Efficiency Ratio is the ratio used for cooling devices, including heat pumps.  It is the cooling capacity (in BTUs) to power input (in watts).

28.  EPA – The Environmental Protection Agency is the government body that sets guidelines for products, systems, qualifying contractors, and much more.  This includes guidelines for efficient heaters, acceptable rates of exhaust, and more.

29.  HSPF – Heating Seasonal Performance Factor is used to measure the efficiency of heat pumps.  It denotes the amount of heat produced (in BTUs) to the energy consumed (in Watts/Hour) per heating season.

30.  HVAC – Abbreviation for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.  This is the abbreviation used to designate services, systems, or units in homes or buildings having to do with temperature regulation and air quality.

Missoula HVAC Contractors Can Answer Your Questions

You can continue reading about more HVAC terms by checking out another glossary we compiled, or you can get in contact with us now!  Call us at (406) 728-5550 or contact us online today!