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Common Heating Terms


Whether you’re searching Google for information on new equipment, learning how to conserve heating energy, or discussing repairs with a Cincinnati HVAC technician, it’s likely that you could run into some confusing terminology. While heating terms are part of our everyday speech, Nelson Comfort recognizes these terms may be a foreign language to our customers. We’ll always take the time to explain any heating terms to you — below is a guide to demystify some common heating terms before you call us!


Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning — a common acronym used to describe all things heating and cooling!


Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, which is the measure of efficiency used for gas furnaces. Higher AFUE ratings mean a more efficient unit. The minimum AFUE allowed for U.S. manufactured gas furnaces is 80%.


British Thermal Unit, a measure of heating capacity. A BTU is the amount of thermal energy needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.


Coefficient of Performance, the efficiency rating for a heat pump’s heating. The higher the COP rating, the more efficient the unit.


A furnace is a piece of heating equipment which heats air by firing a fuel, such as gas, electricity, or oil.

Heat Exchanger

A heat exchanger is a component of a gas furnace which keeps the process of fuel combustion separate from the air you breathe, protecting you from dangerous byproducts such as carbon monoxide. Cracks in a furnace’s heat exchanger can cause carbon monoxide leaks.

Heat Pump

A heat pump is a type of heating equipment which moves heat rather than creates it (like a furnace). A geothermal heat pump moves heat from below ground or from a water source to the home for heating, and an air source heat pump draws heat from outdoor air to heat the home. Heat pumps can also operate in reverse to cool a home.

Air Handler

An air handler is a component of a heat pump heating system which circulates air throughout the home.

Have questions about any heating terms you’ve come across? Feel free to contact Nelson Comfort anytime for an explanation, as well as answers to all your heating questions!

About The Author


Dan Detmer

Dan Detmer is the owner of Nelson Comfort. Dan was born into the heating and cooling industry, coming from a family of well respected HVAC contractors in Dayton, Ohio. After working in the family business, Dan decided to work for a local HVAC wholesale business helping local contractors grow their business. When he felt his heart moving him back into the residential and light commercial business, Dan joined the Mortimer Heating & Cooling team in Cincinnati, where he had called home and become part of the community for several years. After a short period of time Dan purchased the company and created what is today, Nelson Comfort. Today he operates a company based on integrity, honesty, and stellar customer service. If you have any questions feel free to tweet (at sign) NelsonComfort and we will get right back with you!

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We believe that how we treat our customers makes all the difference. When you call on our friendly professionals for world-class heating, cooling, or indoor air quality services, you will be treated with the utmost respect. You can always count on:

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