Know The Lingo

AFUE – Annual fuel utilization efficiency tells you how efficient your boiler or furnace is at converting energy to heat, including the amount of fossil fuel energy consumed per year. The higher the number, generally the more efficient the equipment is. Although we have seen questionable results on AFUE ratings similar to the recent questionable EPA MPG reporting of some car manufacturers claiming high mileage but in real world – not so much. Talk to a reputable installer and fuel dealer and ask for examples of real world results from customers. Depending on the equipment that you are replacing your saving can be dramatic.

Boiler – Think of a boiler as a furnace for water. Instead of heating air, it heats hot water that is moved through the house with pipes into radiators. Creating a very even and satisfying heating comfort.

BTU – British thermal unit. Technically, a BTU is a unit of energy equal to the energy it takes to heat (or cool) one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. BTUs are used to show the value of heating fuels. Fuels with higher BTUs heat space more quickly. To give you a sense of scale, consider that the energy from one kitchen match equals 1 BTU.

Convection The flow of heat through air.

Conduction – The flow of heat through solids.

COP – Coefficient of performance, a measurement that shows the efficiency of some types of heat pumps. Readings range from 0 to 4. A COP of 2 means that 1 unit of energy input yields 2 units of energy output. 

Energy Star – A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program that promotes energy-efficiency to save money and safeguard the environment. The EPA certifies Energy Star products like boilers, insulation, and dishwashers to help consumers make energy-conscious purchases.

Fossil fuels – Finite resources made from decomposed carbon-based plant and animal matter, buried by layers of earth, and formed over millions of years. The three major types are coal, oil, and natural gas.

Furnace – A heat source that warms your home by distributing warm air throughout via a blower and air ducts. 

HVAC – Stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.

Maine Public Utilities Commission – A state agency that regulates the monopoly utilities - electricity, natural gas, telecommunications, water, and more in Maine.

Natural gas – A highly flammable fossil fuel comprised almost exclusively from methane.

Heating Oil – This fossil fuel is a refined form of liquid petroleum. Heating oil is now commonly blended with 5% or more biodiesel. Heating oil or kerosene is a liquid product derived from petroleum distillation as a by-product of crude oil. It's similar to diesel. Heating oil is the second most important by-product of crude oil after gasoline.  

Point-of-use heaters Another name for space heaters; appliances that add heat to a certain room or area. Examples include wood stoves, pellet stoves, portable wall heaters, and fireplaces.

Programmable thermostat – Allows you to program the heat in your home to automatically go up and down according to your schedule, saving you money by keeping the house cooler when you’re sleeping or out.   

Propane Propane is a three-carbon alkane with the molecular formula C

3H8, a gas at standard temperature and pressure, but compressible to a transportable liquid. A by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining, it is commonly used as a fuel for engines, oxy-gas torches, portable stoves, and residential central heating. Propane is one of a group of liquefied petroleum gases (LP gases). The others include butane, propylene, butadiene, butylene, isobutylene and mixtures thereof.

R-factor – Scientists use this rating to identify the effectiveness of insulation. The “R” stands for resistance to the flow of heat through the air – convection – or through solids – conduction. The higher the R-Factor, the slower heat travels through it.

SEER – Seasonal energy efficiency ratio, a measurement applied to heat pumps.

Space heater – An appliance that adds heat to a certain room or area. Think wood stoves, pellet stoves, portable wall heaters, and fireplaces.

Tankless water heater – Appliances that supply continuous hot water to your home, without a storage tank. They save energy – and money – by heating water when you need it, instead of keeping a reservoir of hot water on standby 24/7.

Got a term you’d like us to add to this glossary? Send us an email with your suggestion. We’d love to hear from you.