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HVAC Basics: Before you buy - Part 2 "Products & Terms"

Confused about home heating and cooling? Don’t know where to begin? Don’t worry. Our parter Trane has created a comprehensive guide for what you need to know about home heating and cooling before you buy. If you missed Part 1 "Overview & Cost" check out as we continue to help walk you though what you need to know to make the best choice for you and your home.


FURNACE All furnaces consist of four main components:

1) burners that deliver and burn fuel,

2) heat exchangers

3) a blower and

4) a flue that acts as an exhaust for gaseous by-products.

A furnace burns fuel and distributes it throughout the house.

AIR CONDITIONER An air conditioner draws heat energy out of the house and transfers it to the outside air. The most common setup for residential homes is a split system, which includes an inside-the-home evaporative heat exchanger and an outside condensing unit heat exchanger.

HEAT PUMP A heat pump is an energy efficient option to consider if you live in a mild climate zone. It uses the outside air to heat a home in winter and cool it in summer.

AIR HANDLER An air handler most commonly works with a heat pump to circulate air throughout your home. If you’re searching for a traditional air conditioner or furnace, you won’t need an air handler as those systems have the internal parts needed to circulate air.

DUCTLESS SYSTEMS Ductless systems are a great option to heat or cool a single room in your home without the hassle of adding ductwork.

THERMOSTAT Thermostats are generally split into two classifications: connected or traditional controls. Connected controls can integrate with other smart home systems and learn over time how to most efficiently heat and cool your home.

Traditional controls are simpler – but several offer programmable features as well.

FortisBC has just introduced a new rebate for connected controls. Replace your old natural gas furnace with an eligible ENERGY STAR model and you could qualify for a rebate of up to $700. Plus, if you install an eligible connected thermostat, you could be qualify for an additional $150 rebate. Connected thermostats must be installed by your licensed contractor at the same time as the new qualifying furnace installation. For full details check out


AFUE Measures a furnace’s efficiency in converting heat to energy. A higher percentage means higher efficiency and lower energy costs.

SEER Measures air conditioner or heat pump cooling efficiency. A higher number means greater efficiency and lower energy costs.  

HSPF A ratio for the heating efficiency of heat pumps. An HSPF of 8 or more is considered high efficiency.

SPLIT SYSTEM A split system has two parts: an outdoor unit and an indoor unit. Split systems are the most common HVAC systems in modern homes.

PACKAGED SYSTEM Packaged systems are all-in-one solutions, with most of the components for heating and/or cooling housed in a single cabinet.

HEATING STAGES Refers to the number of settings a furnace or heat pump has. Variable or multi-stage systems offer more precise temperature control and run more efficiently than single stage systems.

COOLING STAGES Refers to the number of settings an air conditioner or heat pump has. Variable or multi-stage systems offer more precise temperature control and run more efficiently than single-stage air conditioners.

ENERGY STAR® The ENERGY STAR designation is designed to help consumers identify energy-efficient products.

Stay tuned next week for Part 3. For all your plumbing, heating and cooling needs give us a call at Service First Tradeworks Ltd. (250) 832-5558 or (250) 675-3668. Proud to be your local Trane Dealer for the Shuswap :).


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