Heating and Cooling Acronym Basics - Part 1

Maybe you’ve found yourself in this scenario: The heating and air technician is explaining what needs to happen to get your central heating or cooling unit running at again at its best, but then he or she starts throwing out all these acronyms: “...the BTUs aren’t where they should be according to the AHRI but with a new ECM we can increase the SEER.” And you think to yourself: “Huh?”

We want to apologize in advance if one of our technicians did something like this to you, spouting off unknown acronyms. We don’t mean to confuse you. We want you to understand your situation and also what we need to do to get you comfortable again. But sometimes the well-trained techs here at GAMA Air get excited and forget that these acronyms, which are part of our everyday vocabulary, are probably like foreign words to you many other of our friends and neighbors in the Beverly Hills, Culver City, Mar Vista, Miracle Mile, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Bel Air, Westwood, Downtown Los Angeles, Vernon, Huntington Park, Sherman Oaks, Encino area. Here’s a simple glossary of the most common acronyms that we use in the heating and cooling industry.


The Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) is a North American trade association of manufacturers of air conditioning, heating, and commercial refrigeration equipment. The organization performs political advocacy on behalf of its member industries, maintains technical standards, certifies products, shares data, conducts research, and awards scholarships. An HVAC system may have an “AHRI Rating” that qualifies it for tax rebates. This means the AHRI has tested and certified the efficiency of the system and assigned it a certification number.


The British Thermal Unit (BTU) is the standard measurement for heating capacity in heating and cooling systems. 1 BTU is the amount of energy it takes to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one-degree Fahrenheit. When used for a heating system, then the BTUs of a unit are the amount of heat that it consumes or produces. When used for a cooling system, then the BTUs are the amount of heat that is removed in order to cool the air.


The electronically commutated motor (ECM) was developed to offer a greater range of operability choices, and to minimize noise in an HVAC system. ECMs are variable speed, DC motors that function using a built-in inverter and a magnet rotor, so they are able to achieve greater efficiency in air-flow systems than some kinds of AC motors and can reduce operating costs. (Although AC voltage is used to supply power to an ECM, the ECM’s internal rectifier converts the current to DC voltage). Additionally, ECMs are not prone to overheating and are also relatively low-maintenance; the use of true ball bearings reduces the need for oiling, and varied start-up speeds reduce stress on mounting hardware.


An energy efficient motor (EEM) is one which consumes less power while it is in operation as compared to a standard motor. EEMs run at a constant speed and are characterized by cost efficiency, lower operating cost, and lower demand charges and are also suitable for operations at higher ambient temperatures. EEMs run an AC power and perform better than normal motors under adverse conditions like unbalanced voltages.

Need someone to help you get your central heating or cooling unit back up and running? Give GAMA Air a call at (310) 651-6936 or fill out our online form to request a service call.

Curious about something related to your heating and cooling system? Visit our Ask an Expert page and let us know what’s on your mind.

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