A Guide to HVAC Heating Season TermsIt’s winter in Michigan, and you’re likely already interacting with your home’s heating system at various levels. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a basic grounding in HVAC terminology. Knowing the basic lingo can help you when it comes to troubleshooting heating system problems, performing routine maintenance, and devising strategies to save energy.

Here are a few HVAC terms that should help you this heating season:

Energy efficiency/AFUE

An HVAC system that consumes energy with as little waste as possible should be your goal when it comes to home heating. But how do you know the efficiency level of your combustion furnace? Look for the AFUE (Annualized Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating. Given as a percentage, the AFUE shows how much natural gas (or whatever fuel) is converted into heat in your home’s furnace. An Energy Star-qualified AFUE 95 furnace, for example, turns all the fuel except for 5 percent into heat. In our Michigan climate, with long, cold winters, investing in a high-efficiency furnace makes the most sense. Your monthly savings on energy will more than make up for the higher purchase price.


Of course, you’re familiar with the function of a thermostat, but the key is learning how to program or adjust it for optimum energy savings. A programmable thermostat should be set so it turns down the heat when nobody’s home, such as on weekdays. It also can be programmed to lower the heat at night when the household is asleep.

Insulation/air sealing

A home that is efficiently weatherized will retain heat much longer than one that isn’t. This means having the correct type and amount of insulation in the right places, and having air leaks in your home’s walls, windows and doors tightly sealed with caulk, weatherstripping or spray foam. Ducts also should be sealed securely.

Air filter

A fresh air filter not only will protect sensitive furnace components from airborne dirt and debris; it will help preserve indoor air quality.

For more help getting through this Grand Traverse County heating season, please contact us at Team Bob’s Heating Cooling Plumbing.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Traverse City, Michigan and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about heating season terms and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 231-714-6196.

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