Glossary of HVAC terms

When it comes to AC installation and AC repair NYC residents can feel intimidated by the various terms that will be thrown around by technicians and others in the industry.  Before you hire someone to install or service your unit, it’s a good idea to brush up on your understanding of some basic terms.  That way, you’ll have a better understanding of what your service technician is telling you when it comes time to work on your air conditioning.  That will also help you to be able to ask the right questions about what the problem is and how they plan to fix it.  It’s always best to be an educated consumer, so you can protect yourself against being ripped off.  Knowing how to speak the language is a good tool in your arsenal.  Below are a few key terms you should understand.  And remember:  There is nothing wrong with asking questions if you don’t understand something!  A reputable company will patiently and thoroughly answer any questions you may have.


The movement of air throughout the system.  Blocked tubes or ducts can result in lower airflow and impeded functionality of the system.

Air handler

The interior part of the air conditioner that that moves the cooled air through the ductwork into the home.


Acronym for British thermal Unit This is a measure of the amount of heat energy put out by a furnace.  Basically, a BTU is the measure of how much heat is required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree.  The more BTUs a unit has, the more heating (or cooling, in the case of air conditioning) power the unit has.  “BTUHs” refers to the number of BTUs a unit can produce in one hour. AC repair NYC is working fine in this field.

Central air conditioning system

A system of ducts through which air that is cooled at a central location is distributed throughout the house.


The component of the air conditioner that actually compresses and pumps refrigerant.


The Department of Energy, the government agency that is responsible for mandating the use of energy in the country and for setting industry standards in terms of energy ratings, etc.

Ductwork or ducts

The system of “tubes” through which the cooled air is channelled throughout the home

Energy Star

A system of ratings that indicates that a particular unit meets or exceeds government standards for energy efficiency.



Acronym for “Heating Seasonal Performance Factor,” this is a rating given to heat pumps.  The higher the rating, the more energy efficient the unit is.


Heating, ventilation and air conditioning


A programmable thermostat allows homeowners to set multiple temperatures, so as to save energy.



A chemical that cools the air before it is distributed throughout the house through the ductwork.  Freon is a common variety of refrigerant.


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