Are HVAC and Air Conditioning Different?

May 2, 2019

The terms “air conditioning” and “HVAC” are often used interchangeably, but are they actually the same thing? No. While a person will probably understand what you mean in either case, HVAC actually refers to a unit of systems whereas as AC refers to the specific subsystem that cools your air.

The Acronym HVAC

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. It’s an aspect of mechanical engineering and an overarching design principle that seeks to balance indoor comfort with the total cost of ownership. These principles can apply to residential, commercial, industrial, and other indoor environments.


Heating is an integral aspect of home comfort and maintenance. An adequately heated house is comfortable, but it also ensures that pipes don’t freeze and hardwood floors don’t warp. Among the most common ways to heat a home is through the use of a furnace.


As a leading provider of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning services throughout Seattle, Lynnwood and beyond, Brennan Heating & Air Conditioning often has to emphasize the importance of ventilation. Proper ventilation keeps cooled or warmed air in, but it also ensures enough fresh air to flush out pollutants and maintain strong indoor air quality.

Air Conditioning

Air conditioning is concerned with cooled air for maximum comfort and removing excess humidity from the air. You can have a standalone window unit, but a central unit is more efficient, and that requires ventilation via ductwork. Another option is a heat pump, which is centralized and combines heating and cooling into a single system.

A Comprehensive Approach

The concept of AC is focused on cooling. HVAC is a higher-level concept that’s focused on multiple subsystems that aren’t limited to the acronym. It can also factor in humidification, dehumidification, air purification, and so forth.

Your Local HVAC Professionals

At Brennan Heating & Air Conditioning, we focus on more than just heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. We also offer electric services, perform energy consultations, specialize in indoor air quality, and work on heat pumps and water heaters. Call us today to learn more about the services we offer.

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