Like most homeowners, you probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about your heating and cooling system. As long as it keeps you cool in the summer and warm in the winter, what else is there to think about? But did you know that the best HVAC systems actually work together to create a comfortable environment year round?
HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. These functions are combined into one system and provide thermal comfort and acceptable indoor air quality. All modern day HVAC systems have three basic components:
- Equipment to add and remove heat from the air
- A means of distributing that air throughout the home
- A control device to regulate the temperature
The furnace and the air conditioner are both separate units in your home that are connected and operated by a series of ducts that move the air from room to room.
The air conditioner makes your home cooler by drawing heat energy out of your home and transferring it to the outdoors via your AC unit. Here in Colorado, the most common AC system is called a split system. An outdoor metal cabinet contains the condenser, compressor, and condenser fan. An indoor cabinet contains the evaporator. You’ll find the outdoor metal cabinet usually on the side or in the backyard, usually on a concrete slab. The indoor cabinet is part of the furnace that is typically adjacent to the basement wall.
The compressor pumps refrigerant between the evaporator and the condenser. This refrigerant evaporates in the indoor evaporator coil, pulling heat out of the indoor air. The air handler in the furnace then blows the cooled air through the home duct system. When the blower turns on, it draws air from throughout your home, pulls it through a filter to mitigate dust, lint and pollutants, then returns it through the air ducts.
The furnace pumps cooled air throughout your home and warms it before redistributing it. A furnace has a burner, heat exchanger, vent and draft inducer, a blower, as well as safety devices and controls.
The furnace combines air with fuel, and an electronic igniter sparks the mixture. Hot gas then rises through the heat exchanger which is positioned above the burner. It heats the air and circulates it back throughout the house. An electric fan inside the furnace pulls in the air which comes into the house through a series of vents located in your home. Like the air conditioner, the furnace also sends air through a filter before it is released into the home to filter through dust and other pollutants.
The ventilation system is equally as important for creating comfort and a healthy environment. Ventilation is a process for exchanging and replacing air in a confined space. Natural ventilation enters your home through doors, windows, skylights, etc. Mechanical ventilation comes in through devices such as exhaust fans. The HVAC system uses air ducts to provide a balanced system of airflow throughout your home, no matter what the weather or what system you are using to condition the air.
Although most homeowners don’t know the intricacies of how an HVAC system works, they do know what controls the temperature – your thermostat. This is the external switch for turning on and off your furnace and AC system. Even the simplest of systems have an on/auto/off switch. Newer models are equipped with technology that allows you to control your thermostat from your mobile devices. Programmable thermostats can save you money on your monthly utility bills by optimizing your HVAC system.
Have additional questions about your HVAC system? Just ask.