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Top 10 HVAC Terms and Concepts to Learn
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Top 10 HVAC Terms and Concepts to Learn

Houston, we have a problem…what’s up with all this air conditioning lingo?

Brutal summers, warm falls, almost non-existent winters, and then you’re back to a warm if not downright balmy spring.

Houstonians know air conditioning because we have to.

Staying cool at all costs, and we all know it’ll cost you a pretty penny, can be a year-round challenge. Unfortunately, that means we are also putting a lot more strain on our air conditioning units than say other parts of the country.

This also brings up an uncomfortable fact of life, due to the environment and workload, Houstonians shouldn’t expect their air conditioners to last as long either.

It’s not a fun thing to bring up, but we would be liars if we didn’t.Trane-ac-repair-and-install

Which brings us back to you.

There’s a chance that your very purpose for reading this piece is because your air conditioner has experienced an issue, may need replacing, or is simply not keeping up with modern standards.

So, you’re educating yourself a bit to see what your next move should be?

Bravo! But if you’re not either an HVAC enthusiast or an industry insider, some of the technical pieces and terms can be a bit confusing.

Don’t sweat it, as we’ve compiled this guide filled with informative definitions on all things air conditioning, and we promise that will be our last dad joke.

Have a question about one of our services? Contact Cruz Air & Electric Today!

HVAC, What Does It Stand For?    hvac-stands-for

English teachers around the world are probably cringing that we’ve used this abbreviation multiple times without a concise definition, so let’s change that:

  • Heating
  • Ventilation
  • Air
  • Conditioning

A simple, yet effective way to combine all of the core functions encompassing your air conditioner and heating system.


Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Explainedhvac-air-quality-explained

Your residential or commercial business is being cooled and heated by its HVAC unit. This is the most commonly known application for such machinery; however, we have discovered that not everyone is aware of the job our air conditioners have in controlling the quality of air that is produced.


When you really stop and think about it, it should come as no surprise but IAQ remains an overlooked subject and emerging topic of public health.

Indoor Air Quality is simply put as the quality of the air that is being produced within your air-conditioned structure.

Higher IAQ will result in better health and lower energy bills and vice versa.

To learn more about Indoor Air Quality, follow our guides on both assisting your air conditioner in producing acceptable IAQ and the health benefits that are associated in doing so.


Air Ducts

One of the most critical components to any HVAC system, the air ducts are basically the roads on which air travels on.

In, out, around, and about, wherever air is traveling via our HVAC unit, you can be sure that an air duct is working to ensure it is properly delivered to its proper destination.

Air Conditioner Condensers and Compressors

Condensers are nifty little HVAC components. Their job is to essentially transfer heat and help our overall AC unit produce a clean, cool end product.

Coolant is collected by the condenser in its vaporous state and then condensed into a cool liquid. The compressor then works in conjunction with the condenser and takes this cooler liquid to transform warmer air that is transferred from outdoors into cooler air for the indoors.

Pilot Lights

Pilot lights are used as an ignition source for gas burners. They are small flames that in modern times have somewhat been replaced with electric sources versus the traditional gas method of a continuously lit minor flame.

British Thermal Unit (BTU)

Used to define and measure units of heat, BTUs are used to measure and convey the amount of heat is used to change the temperature of water by each pound of water.

The origins of using BTUs as a measurement begin in the later portion of the 1800s and is often used to portray and measure the amount of power that is output by an air conditioning system.

This is commonly referenced as BTU/h or British Thermal Units per hour.

Fresh Air Intake (FAI) hvac-fresh-air-intake

This portion of your HVAC system is responsible for assisting in your home or business’s IAQ.

Fresh Air Intake systems provide your HVAC unit with fresh air to help replenish and refresh the air that is being pushed throughout your structure.

SEER Ratings

An HVAC unit’s SEER Rating is a basic reading that ranks a systems energy-efficiency:

  • Minimum SEER Rating standards: 13
  • Average SEER Rating in a home: 16
  • Highest available SEER Rating: 26

It is important to note that while the higher the SEER Rating is the better your energy-efficiency will theoretically be, these ratings are generally produced under the most ideal of conditions. Many units are physically incapable of reaching their highest possible SEER Rating due to the environment, especially those in Houston, that they must work in. Most homes will find that using an HVAC system with a rating of 16-20 will be more than enough for their personal needs.

Heat Pumps

According to the industry-leading HVAC company Trane, heat pumps are a compressor in which cycle refrigeration that can be reversed to either heat or cool your home or business. Heat pumps essentially move hot air around and help maintain temperature, heat, or cool a space depending on your needs.

Split Systems

A split system air conditioning or heating unit is what is commonly thought of when a traditional air conditioner is considered. An outdoor element transfers air through the indoor component. The temperature is monitored by a thermostat and is typically filtered once it is transferred.


Zoning in the world of HVAC refers to a heating or cooling unit conditioning the area of a particular zone as opposed to the entirety of the structure.

In the age of all things digital, technological advances are giving homeowners and business owners more and more control over customizing their lives, this luxury holds true with HVAC. Structures can be equipped to control the temperature for one section all while maintaining a separate goal temperature for another.


Want to Learn More About HVAC?

Even if you are new to this side of home improvement, collectively, these are a few terms and highlights that are a great place to get started when learning the ins and outs of HVAC and its surrounding subjects.

For more information, check out our blog for regular updates and articles, as well as our informative overview page on all things air conditioning; additionally, feel free to reach out to the team that has been keeping Humble, TX and the nearby areas’ air-conditioned since the 80s.

Robert Cruz and his brilliant team of contractors at Cruz Air & Electric have the know-how and work ethic to assess and solve even the trickiest of your residential or commercial HVAC projects.

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