Santa Energy Santa Energy • Jun 10, 2020

What is HVAC? Everything You Need to Know

.In the dead of winter or the heat of summer, it’s second nature for us to walk over to the thermostat and adjust the temperature to make our homes comfortable. 

Because this routine is so habitual, you probably don’t think much about the system’s technical processes. Like the one that works to ensure humidity levels in your home are optimal, or the one that filters and cleans indoor air to keep you healthy.

This comprehensive system of heating, cooling, and ventilation is also known as HVAC. 

If you’re a new homeowner or haven’t worked with an HVAC company, let’s discuss what HVAC is, how it works in your home, and where to go if your HVAC system needs repairs. 

What does HVAC stand for?

The acronym HVAC stands for:

  • Heating
  • Ventilation
  • Air Conditioning

Think of HVAC as multiple systems that:

  • Move air between indoor and outdoor areas
  • Heat and cool residential and commercial buildings

What is an HVAC system?

HVAC systems consist of different layers and methods of output. Meaning, HVAC isn’t only about central air conditioning or central heating, though these are two of the most common systems. 

Let’s explore each part of the system.


You have several system options for heating your home, including furnaces, heat pumps, boilers, and ductless systems. For each system, there are different methods of heat delivery:


  • Forced air systems: Also known as central heating systems, these heating systems are the most common for homeowners and rely on air to transfer heat. In this system, air gets distributed through ductwork, vents, and plenums.
  • Radiant and hydronic heat: These interchangeable terms describe heating systems that rely on tubing and hot liquid that runs directly from the floor, along baseboard heaters, panels in the wall, ceilings, or through radiators to heat your home. 
  • Geothermal: The least common option for home heating is geothermal heat, which leverages energy stored in the earth to provide heating in your home.


Without the ventilation component of HVAC, homeowners might notice a fluctuation in inside temperatures, and risk too much (or too little) humidity in the home, and unhealthy air quality. The most common types of ventilation systems are:

  • Exhaust: Commonly used in colder climates, exhaust ventilation systems work by depressurizing your home and forcing air out of the house, while bringing new air in through passive vents.
  • Supply: This type of system uses a fan to pressurize your home, which forces outside air into your home, and pushes air out of ducts, and vents.
  • Balanced: A balanced ventilation system usually has two fans and two duct systems and works by bringing in (and pushing out) equal amounts of fresh outside air and polluted inside air.
  • Energy recovery: Sometimes called Heat Recovery Ventilators, this type of system includes a heat exchanger, one or more fans, and controls. It operates by transferring inside air to the fresh outside supply air.

Air Conditioning

Homeowners also have a few choices when it comes to cooling their homes. The most common is using central air conditioning in conjunction with central heating, but that’s not the only solution. There are also split or ductless, window and portable units. 

All AC options operate in the same way, using energy to move heat from homes and buildings to the outside. 

Most air conditioning systems use: 

  • A compressor to transfer heat from indoors to outside
  • Refrigerant, to run the compressor

Refrigerant moves between a liquid and gas state, and as it changes, refrigerant can absorb and release the heat outside of your home.

Where can I go for HVAC repairs and maintenance?

Because there are so many working parts and methods of operation in HVAC systems, it’s wise to give them an annual tune-up by the experts. 

Preventive care of your HVAC systems can extend the life equipment and reduce costly and untimely repairs. When your HVAC systems are operating well, you can save on energy bills and keep your home’s air quality safe. 

Need to schedule your annual tune-up?

Contact Santa for all HVAC needs


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