Air Conditioner – An air conditioner is designed to change the air temperature and humidity within an area. The cooling is typically done using a simple refrigeration cycle, but sometimes evaporation is used, commonly for comfort cooling in buildings.

Air Handler – An air handler (often abbreviated to AHU), is a device used to condition and circulate air as part of a heating and air system, but its heat is all electric. Air handlers are usually paired with a heat pump, and as a heat pump is the first stage of heating, an air handler with heat strips is normally used as back up heat for when it gets too cold outside for the heat pump to be able to properly heat the home.

Boiler – Boilers are systems designed for heating air or water to produce heat or energy. Basic models are made up of an enclosed container where heat is applied to water, which is then circulated throughout the system in the form of hot water or steam. The water must be boiled to create steam, giving the device its name. The heated liquid then passes through pipes rather than ductwork to a particular heating implement, such as a radiator, to disburse heat.

Condenser Coil – The function of an evaporator coil is to condition the air. As air from the room passes over the coil, the coil takes the heat from the air and sends cooler air back out through the system. Humidity is removed from the air by the coil, working with the condenser unit to condense the water in the air.

Dehumidifier – A dehumidifier draws humidity out of the air.

Ductless Mini-Splits – Ductless, mini-split-system heat pumps (mini splits) make good retrofit add-ons to houses with “non-ducted” heating systems.

Mini splits have no ducts, so they avoid the energy losses associated with the ductwork of central forced air systems.

Gas Furnace – A natural gas furnace is a heating system fueled by natural gas, usually delivered through a utility line.

Geothermal – Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) are electrically powered systems that tap the stored energy of the greatest solar collector in existence: the earth. These systems use the earth’s relatively constant temperature to provide heating, cooling, and hot water for homes and commercial buildings.

How do ground source heat pumps work?

Ground source heat pumps can be categorized as having closed or open loops, and those loops can be installed in three ways: horizontally, vertically, or in a pond/lake.

For closed loop systems, water or antifreeze solution is circulated through plastic pipes buried beneath the earth’s surface. During the winter, the fluid collects heat from the earth and carries it through the system and into the building. During the summer, the system reverses itself to cool the building by pulling heat from the building, carrying it through the system and placing it in the ground. This process creates free hot water in the summer and delivers substantial hot water savings in the winter.

Open loop systems operate on the same principle as closed loop systems and can be installed where an adequate supply of suitable water is available and open discharge is feasible. Benefits similar to the closed loop system are obtained.

Heat Pump – A heat pump can both heat and cool, and is a device that uses a small amount of energy to move heat from one location to another.  Heat pumps are typically used to pull heat out of the air or ground to heat a home, but they can be reversed to cool a building. One of the biggest advantages of a heat pump over a standard system is that there’s no need to install separate systems to heat and cool your home. Heat pumps also work extremely efficiently, because they simply transfer heat, rather than burn fuel to create it. This makes them greener than a gas-burning furnace. They work best in moderate climates, so if you don’t experience extreme heat and cold in your area, then using a heat pump instead of a furnace and air conditioner could help you save a little money each month.

Humidifier – When winter hits, people go inside for warmth and turn on their furnaces. The artificial heat does more than warm a room. It dries out the room. Humidifiers add moisture to the air, making the room more comfortable.

Hybrid/Duel Fuel – A Hybrid heat system reacts to changing temperatures and automatically adjusts to the most efficient energy saving method available to heat or cool a home. It is a fuel-saving alternative to traditional heating and cooling systems in that it combines a furnace with a heat pump, rather than an air conditioner.

IAQ/Indoor Air Quality/Air Filtration – Term which refers to the air quality within the home, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of its occupants. IAQ can be affected by gases (including carbon monoxide, radon, volatile organic compounds), particulates, microbial contaminants (mold, bacteria) or any mass or energy stressor that can induce adverse health conditions. Source control, filtration and the use of ventilation to dilute contaminants are the primary methods for improving indoor air quality in most homes through the use of air filters, air filtration systems, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, u.v. lights, and recovery ventilators.

Thermostat – A thermostat is a component of a control system which senses the temperature in a conditioned area so that the system’s temperature is maintained near a desired set point. The thermostat does this by switching heating or cooling devices on or off, or regulating the flow of a heat transfer fluid as needed to maintain the correct temperature.

UV Lights – A germicidal UV light system can significantly reduce the amount of viable airborne micro-organisms found in HVAC units. UV light eliminates molds, bacteria, yeasts, and viruses. These are naturally occurring contaminants that infiltrate every home and office on this planet. Micro-organisms are living creatures that are so small a microscope is required to view them.