Heating & Cooling 101 / Heating 101


A Residential Furnace keeps your home warm during the cold months, and can be an integral part of a central air conditioning and/or indoor air quality system.

The basic components of a furnace system are:

  • A burner, through which gas (natural or propane) or oil is delivered and burned.
  • A heat exchanger, where the heat produced from the burning gas is transferred to the air distribution system.
  • Ductwork to transfer the heated air throughout the home.
  • A flue or vent pipe, to exhaust byproducts of combustion (such as water vapor and carbon dioxide) to the outside.

    The efficiency of a furnace is rated using a percent of AFUE.

    A gas furnace uses natural gas, although some models can be converted to utilize propane. An oil furnace uses heating oil. An electricity source is required to run the control systems, blower and some accessories.

    Single Packages
    A Residential Single Package System is a year 'round comfort system in which all equipment is self-contained in one unit and installed outdoors, typically on a concrete slab or other platform.

    In the summer, a single package system provides the comfort of central air conditioning. During the colder months, the unit provides heat. Essentially, it is an air conditioner and heating unit in a single package, hence the name.

    Models are available using:

  • Electricity for resistance heating and cooling.
  • Gas for heating and electricity for cooling.
  • Heat pump models using electricity.

    The efficiency of single packages are rated using SEER (for cooling efficiency), AFUE% (for gas heating efficiency) and HSPF (for heat pump efficiency). Ductwork is required to transfer the heated or cooled air throughout the home.

    Seasonal Tips

  • Follow manufacturer's routine maintenance directions.
  • Have entire system checked once a year by a qualified service technician.

    What Homeowners Can Do:
    Check Filters

  • Permanent - Clean with mild detergent, per manufacturer's recommendations, every 30 to 60 days.
  • Replaceable - Replace every 30 to 60 days.

    Windows and Doors

  • Keep closed when system is running.
  • Caulk and weatherstrip to close air gaps.
  • Open drapes and shades over windows facing sun.


  • During cooling season, don't wash/dry clothes during warmest times of day (late morning and afternoon).
  • When cooking, use exhaust fan only as needed.
  • Keep thermostat at desired setting
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