HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning, and HVAC systems are, effectively, everything from your air conditioner at home to the large systems used in industrial complexes and apartment blocks. A good HVAC system aims to provide thermal control and indoor comfort, and one that is designed using the principles of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer.
The big air conditioner boxes that you might see on top of apartment blocks or offices are examples of (the visible part of) HVAC systems. They’re typically deployed in large industrial buildings, skyscrapers, apartment blocks, and large interior environments. They’re also an essential component of environments where there are health regulations requiring that temperature and humidity be kept at certain levels, using air taken from outside.
But heating and cooling systems you use in your home are also HVAC systems. They may take a different form, but many of the fundamental principles determining how they operate, as well as their efficiency, cross over from the smallest of personal devices right through to the biggest commercial installations.
For most people, heating and cooling will account for as much as half of the energy they use. With this in mind, it’s important to choose a HVAC system that will meet your comfort needs, without drawing on excess power and escalating your cost of living.