We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By clicking '' or by continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time.

What is HVAC?

HVAC, which stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning, is an all-encompassing term when it comes to talking about your heating and cooling system in its entirety. While the world of HVAC might seem complicated, it doesn’t have to be confusing for homeowners. Let’s break down the basics.


Video URL: https://www.youtube.com/embed/ujpwIYJLBTY

What does HVAC mean?

HVAC is an acronym that stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. The term HVAC is used to describe a complete home comfort system that can be used to heat and cool your home, as well as provide improved indoor air quality. HVAC can be easily confused with the term AC, but AC simply refers to air conditioning on its own, while HVAC refers to the broader system, which may or may not include an air conditioning unit.

What are the components that make up an HVAC system?

A complete HVAC system has more than one component. In fact, it has multiple units and parts, both inside and outside your home, that all work together doing different jobs to bring you the complete home comfort you need. While there are many different components that can be part of an HVAC system, below are a few of the ones you’re most likely to see in your system, plus what they do:

  • Air Conditioner – An air conditioner cools your home by removing heat and humidity from inside and transferring it outside.
  • Heat Pump – Contrary to their name, a heat pump can both heat and cool your home. They use refrigerant to absorb, transport, and release heat, and they can reverse the flow of that refrigerant depending on if you need heating or cooling. Heat pumps are powered by electricity, not fossil fuels.
  • FurnaceFurnaces create heat by burning a fuel source like natural gas or propane. The heat they create is then distributed throughout your home, in order to increase the indoor temperature.
  • Air HandlerAir handlers circulate both warm and cool air formed by other HVAC units throughout your entire home, in order to reach your desired temperature in every room.
  • DuctworkDuctwork is a system of pipes, also known as ducts, that carry and distribute air from units like your furnace, air conditioner, and heat pump.
  • Thermostat – The thermostat, located inside your home, allows you to control your indoor temperature. When you change the temperature on your thermostat, it signals to the rest of your HVAC system your home needs to be warmer or cooler.  

When you find the right combination of these HVAC units (and others!) for your home, it will help ensure your unique temperature and air quality needs are met all year long. 

How does an HVAC system work?

The goal of your HVAC system is to make your ideal home comfort circumstances become a reality. To do this, a complete system must be built from a combination of an air conditioner, furnace, air handler, ductwork, thermostat and even some other units like a humidifier or air purifier.

Once the proper HVAC system for your home is selected and installed, you’ll begin controlling the temperature inside with your thermostat. When the thermostat tells the other HVAC units in your home the temperature needs to change, they will begin the process of producing warm or cool air. That newly warmed or cooled air will be distributed throughout your home with the help of ductwork or an air handler. If your home features a ductless system, refrigerant lines will help move the air through the system.

HVAC systems can be powered by either gas or electricity, though most systems are now electric. The main exception are furnaces, which tend to be either gas or oil powered.

What HVAC system is right for me?

The right HVAC system for you depends on a variety of factors including where you live, the size of your home, your price range, and more. The best HVAC system for you also depends on your personal home comfort preferences. Do you want a system that’s energy efficient? Quiet? Able to monitor humidity? All of the above? These factors and preferences will help determine the perfect combination of units for your home.

After you determine your preferences for a home comfort system, schedule a call or meeting with a certified HVAC technician. Your technician will have the knowledge and expertise to help you design the right system for your home, as well as talk you through system preferences based on your climate. The first step to finding the right HVAC system for you is simply learning about HVAC, which means you’re well on your way!

Contact a local dealer

Dealers can answer questions, help you find the right products for your home, and repair your system.

We’re here to help

Connect with our Customer Care team about your products, warranties, and dealer concerns.

Available Monday – Friday from 7am to 5pm CST


A phone