HVAC Basics

The complexity of HVAC systems and their terminology can seem overwhelming. But these HVAC basics can give you a better understanding of how these systems work and how they can improve the health, comfort, and efficiency of your home... so you can make more informed decisions when it comes to purchasing and repairs. In addition to these user-friendly resources our experts have created for you, our Luxaire® Certified Comfort Expert™ Contractors are ready to answer your questions and make recommendations that fit the needs of your home and lifestyle.

How Your System Works

Your HVAC system keeps your home comfortable all year round. But when it comes to comfort, there’s more to consider than just temperature. Your heating and cooling system can purify your home’s airflow, fine-tune its humidity levels, and more. First, let’s check out the different types of heating and cooling systems.

Types of HVAC Systems

The configuration of your home’s ductwork and type of energy supply determine the type of HVAC system your home can accommodate. Each system usually includes either a furnace or electric heat pump that provides heated air, an air conditioner that delivers cooled air, ductwork to allow warm and cool air to move throughout your home, and a thermostat to control system functions.

What makes each system different is how this equipment operates together. Residential heating and cooling is usually grouped into one of the system types listed below.

Heating & Air Conditioning Split System

A split system includes an air conditioning unit or heat pump installed outside your home and a furnace or air handler installed inside. A mechanical blower forces heated or cooled air through the ductwork. Your thermostat controls this conditioned air that moves through the ducts.

Hybrid Heat Pump HVAC System

An electric heat pump and a furnace are used in tandem in a hybrid heat pump system. When it’s cold outside, the furnace heats your home. The heat pump acts as an efficient, additional heat source during milder weather and provides cool air when it’s warm. Your thermostat controls the flow between components.

Duct Free Mini Split HVAC System

Some homes don’t have ductwork or have ductwork that becomes an obstacle. A duct-free, mini-split system is ideal for older homes or single rooms like attics and garages that lack proper ductwork.

Since one unit will usually manage the comfort of a single room or zone in your home, duct-free, mini-split units are installed directly into home areas that need to be heated and cooled. Where the unit is installed depends on your home and the system’s capabilities. Units can be mounted on the wall, ceiling, floor, or, in some instances, ducting can be incorporated to provide multi-zoned comfort from a single unit.

Packaged Heating & Air Conditioning System

Compact and efficient, residential packaged HVAC systems contain all the components of a traditional, split HVAC system but fit into a single, outdoor unit. This system is perfect for homes without a basement or homes that require a rooftop solution.

Other Factors

Besides heating and cooling, there are other factors related to HVAC operation that can affect your utility bills and help determine your home’s health and comfort.

Energy Efficiency

Determining the necessary system size for your home is an important step for achieving energy efficiency. Ratings like ENERGY STAR®, which was created by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), can help you more easily identify efficient heating and cooling units. For HVAC systems, the label indicates products that save anywhere from 15% to 25% more energy than standard HVAC products.

HVAC products that are energy efficient are good for both the environment and for saving money on your utility bill. Our simple guide to HVAC energy savings helps explore this topic.

Indoor Air Quality

HVAC systems regulate and circulate airflow around homes. Improving indoor air quality (IAQ) in your home improves both your overall comfort and the healthiness of your home’s air. Integrated IAQ products like ventilators, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and air cleaners can help offset the air quality challenges presented by pets and can help people who suffer from allergies and asthma. Integrated IAQ products can also help combat airborne viruses, bacteria, or mold. Read more IAQ tips in our Tips to Improve Indoor Air Quality article.

Thermostats & Smart Home Controls

Your home thermostat controls your HVAC system. While all thermostats control indoor temperatures, some also integrate smart home features. Programmable thermostats improve your home’s HVAC system efficiency, and Luxaire® takes this further with integrated voice control using Amazon Alexa and remote access and monitoring via a smart device (including Apple Watch®) in our advanced communicating thermostats. Many of our thermostats can also send notifications to your HVAC dealer to help keep your home comfort system running smoothly.

If you’re deciding whether to repair or replace your HVAC system, it’s important to first understand how your home comfort system works. A Luxaire® Certified Comfort Expert Contractor can help you find the perfect system. Find a Luxaire® dealer nearby using our Dealer Locator.

Find a Dealer

When purchasing a comfort system, you want to be confident you’re getting a quality product that’s backed by quality support. Your local Luxaire® Dealer is trained to recommend the right system for your home or business and install it correctly. Find a local pro near you!

HVAC basics and working with a dealer Working with a Dealer

Your HVAC dealer can help with a range of issues, including equipment failure, uneven temperatures, strange smells or unexpected costs on your electric bill. Whatever the reason, it’s important to be ready for conversations with your HVAC dealer to make sure your discussions are productive. Here are some suggestions.

HVAC basics and preserive checklist PreService Checklist

You can help your Luxaire® Certified Comfort Expert™ Contractor make maintenance visits fast and productive. Here you’ll find tips on what to check and prepare before your contractor visits.