When dealing with contractors and HVAC companies, the terminology used can be quite confusing to the average consumer that is not familiar with the words and their meanings. To help make things a little clearer, here are some basic terms used in the HVAC industry and their meanings.

SEER-SEER ratings refer to the Seasonal Energy-Efficiency Ratio standards for HVAC equipment. The higher this number is the better the system or product will perform compared to others in the same category. It compares the ratio of BTUs to energy consumed per kilowatt hour. This rating represents a higher standard of energy efficiency applying to air conditioners and furnaces built after 1970. In 1987 the new minimum rating was changed from a SEER 10 to a Seer 13, representing a 30% increase in energy efficiency.

NATE-NATE is an abbreviation for the North American Technician Excellence certification, a non-profit certification program for HVAC technicians. Possessing this certification signifies that the technician is trained and experienced with the latest technology in HVAC systems and can service any type of heating or cooling system. This certification is recognized and supported by the entire nationwide HVAC industry.

BTU-BTU stands for British Thermal Unit which measures heat in degrees. It takes one BTU to raise the temperature one degree. The higher the BTU rating is, the greater the heating capacity of the unit or product. Furnaces, portable electric heaters and consumer products that generate heat are rated in BTUs.

Energy Star Rating

The Energy Star rating is a standard measure of energy efficiency applied to consumer products. The Energy Star symbol indicated products that use less energy and therefore save money. Created in 1992, the rating system identifies products that are designed to use up to 30% less energy than their previous models.

Air Handler

The air handler is the portion of your cooling system that resides inside the home. It includes the blower, motor and coils inside the housing.


Refrigerant, also known as Freon, is used in air conditioners to cool the copper coils creating the evaporative process. Older systems used R-22 but it is now being replaced by R-410A because it is better for the environment and less expensive to refill.

Condenser Coil

The condenser coil is the part of your system that cools the liquid and turns it into gas to be blown out through the ventilation system. The refrigerant travels through the copper tubing and becomes a cold liquid which is why the air that comes out feels so good. It is basically air being blown over super cold coils that creates a mist that gets picked up by the return air vents and recycled through the system.

Know that you know a few basic terms, having a conversation with your AC contractor in Austin won’t be so difficult. You’ll have a little bit better understanding of what he or she is explaining and will have gained a better understanding of how air conditioning works. Contact ABA Heating and Cooling with any questions concerning repairs or maintenance plans.