As a homeowner, you most likely have faced many repairs and updates on your house. From replacing loose shingles and fixing a leaky faucet, these updates are necessary for your home's appeal, function, and value. Unfortunately, you may not be placing enough emphasis on your home's heating and cooling needs. Considering more than half of your home's energy usage stems from heating and cooling, periodic maintenance and repairs is essential. Not only will these tasks ensure your system is working properly, but they will also ensure the system is working without wasting energy.

Of course, hiring contractors for this maintenance can be overwhelming due to their experience and knowledge. Using this guide of common HVAC terms, you will understand the various tasks necessary for efficient heating and cooling.


Calling a technician to your home because your system is not cooling properly is common, especially in the summer. In many cases, this problem stems from your system being low on Freon. Also known as R-22 refrigerant, Freon absorbs heat before releasing it to run the air conditioning for proper cooling. If your system is low on Freon, there may be no air coming out of your vents. Or, the air will feel warm instead of cool.

Unfortunately, R-22 refrigerant contains chlorine. This can be hazardous to the environment, but it is still readily used. If your system is low on Freon, have your contractor complete a retrofit. A retrofit allows your existing system to use an environmentally friendly refrigerant, such as R-407C.


When your contractor uses the term "SEER," you may first think of a local department store. However, SEER actually represents your system's Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The higher your SEER, the more efficient your heating and cooling system is.

If your contractor feels you need an entirely new system, consider a higher SEER for the most efficiency and value. While a higher SEER is more expensive, it can be a worthwhile investment. For the most comfort, value, and energy efficiency, opt for a system that offers a minimum of 13 SEER.


Do not panic when your contractor mentions "tons." This term does not refer to the amount of money you need to spend on maintenance or repairs, but it does represent the capacity of your air conditioning system.

The number of tons your system offers refers to the amount of heat the air conditioning removes from inside the house within an hour. Here are a few tips to determine if your system's tonnage is sufficient for efficient cooling of your home:

  • An estimated 25 BTUs, or British Thermal Units, are necessary to cool one square foot in your home.
  • Each ton of your system equals 12,000 BTUs of heat removed from the home for each hour.

Using the above tips, you can determine how many BTUs and tons are best for your home's square footage. For example, a home with 2,000 square feet will need an estimated 50000 BTUs, which a 4-ton unit will offer.


Humidity is a common issue many southerners face in extremely hot temperatures. However, this warm moisture can also be an issue inside your home due to air loss through ductwork or improper ventilation.

While surprising to hear, it only takes a small amount of moisture to increase the humidity level inside your home. This excess moisture can lead to comfort problems when cooling your home, mold growth, and poor air quality.

If you are dealing with high levels of humidity inside your home, your contractor may suggest installing a dehumidifier. While a whole-house dehumidifier can cost an estimated $2,200 to $4,800, it is a smart investment for improving air quality and the efficiency of your air conditioning.

Hiring a contractor to maintain or repair your heating and cooling system may seem overwhelming. Thankfully, this guide of common HVAC terms will help you understand the importance of maintenance for an efficient system. Check out sites like for more information.