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HVAC Terms to Know

Ever been having a talk or consultation with an HVAC professional and felt like they were speaking another language altogether? If so, we’re not surprised! The heating and cooling industry is rife with specific terms and jargon, and not all of it is really commonplace enough to be easily understood.

At Jack Lehr Heating, Cooling & Electric, our experts want to help you understand what it is we’re talking about! We feel that an informed consumer makes good decisions, and we very much prefer to instill confidence in our clients. So today we’re going to make a brief, easy to read vocabulary cheat sheet.

Looking for an HVAC team that delivers top-quality service and reliable solutions? Contact Jack Lehr online today!

Common HVAC Terms

Don’t worry, this won’t be as dry as your garden variety vocab sheet, and we won’t test you on it, either!


  • HVAC. Stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. HVAC can be used for any system that provides heat and cooling, as well as indoor air quality, for homeowners.
  • Furnace. Appliances fueled by gas, electricity, oil, or even wood that generates heat in a home. Furnaces are the most common heating systems used in the United States!
  • Air conditioner. Air conditioner, or ac, is actually a catch-all term for cooling systems. It can be referring to heat pumps and ductless systems, but is most commonly associated with central cooling systems.
  • Boiler. An appliance that uses electricity, gas, or oil to heat either air or water (most commonly water, called a hydronic boiler) in order to provide either or/and hot water and home heating.
  • Air-source heat pumps. Air source heat pumps make use of the ambient thermal energy that naturally exists outdoors in order to both cool and heat homes. They are typically more efficient than furnaces or air conditioners.
  • Geothermal heat pumps. The most efficient HVAC system out there, GHPs are also called ground-source heat pumps, and use the ambient thermal energy in the ground to heat and cool.


  • Air filter. The filter responsible for pulling dust and debris out of the air, helping to improve air flow and efficiency. Air filters can be found in the blower compartment of most HVAC systems.
  • Condenser coil. Removes heat from the compressed refrigerant. Plays a few roles depending on the HVAC system, but most commonly rejects heat to cool homes, or sends the rejected heat back into the home when heating is needed, such as in the case of a heat pump system
  • Condensate drain. Air conditioning systems naturally dehumidify the air. The system uses its condensate drain in order to rid itself safely of the collected moisture. This usually runs either outdoors, or to a designated drain in the home.

General Terms

  • BTU. British Thermal Unit. More specifically, this is the amount of energy needed to increase the temperature of 1lb of water by a single degree (Fahrenheit).
  • Heat transfer. The act of heat moving from one space to another, such as from room to room, or from outdoors to indoors/vice versa.
  • SEER. Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio–this is basically a measure of your system’s efficiency and overall energy performance. Fun fact: for most of the US, the current minimal SEER is 13.

Dependable HVAC Services

Hopefully next time one of our experts is having a chat with you, you’ll be able to get what’s up! It is very important to us that our clients feel comfortable with their options and needs, and we think this list may help! Ready to call in for service? Contact us online!

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When you choose Jack Lehr Heating Cooling & Electric, you’ll benefit from our:

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