Oodles of Acronyms & Initials for Home Energy Pros

Acronyms and initials (let's call that AI, for short, not to be confused with the other AI, which stands for artificial intelligence, or AIA, which stands for American Institute of Architects) are part of the jargon of every field. Our field, whether you call it building science, green building, home performance, or something else, is no exception. So, a few years ago I started putting together a list that I now include in the manuals that we give out in our training classing (HERS rater and BPI Building Analyst).

I'm up to 117 total lines in my list, which our students find very helpful in sorting out all the jargon that's new to them. When you first come into this field and start getting the barrage of ACH50, HVAC, COP, HDD, WRB, and more thrown at you, it's good to have somewhere to look these things up.

Also, if two AI have the same definition, I included them on the same line. For example, SHR and SHF both refer to the same quantity, even though one uses the word fraction and the other ratio. When a single AI has two different definitions, however, I put them on separate lines. The only one I have like that right now is CO, which could stand for carbon monoxide or certificate of occupancy.

Anyway, I'm sure you're dying to find out what RTFM stands for, so let's get on with it. Below is a table of my top 50 acronyms and initials. If you want the full list, see my instructions below the table.

AI What it stands for URL
ACCA Air Conditioning Contractors of America acca.org
ACH50 Air Changes per Hour at 50 Pascals  
AFUE Annualized Fuel Utilization Efficiency  
AHRI Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute  ahrinet.org
ASHRAE American Society of Heating Refrigerating & Air conditioning Engineers  ashrae.org
BAS building airflow standard   
BPI Building Performance Institute  bpi.org
BTU British Thermal Unit  
CCF hundred cubic feet  
CFA conditioned floor area  
CFL compact fluorescent light  
cfm50 cubic feet per minute at 50 Pascals  
CO carbon monoxide  
COP coefficient of performance  
EER energy efficiency ratio  
EF energy factor  
EPS expanded polystyrene  
ERV energy recovery ventilator  
GSHP ground-source heat pump  
HDD heating degree days  
HERS home energy rating system  
HPwES Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program  
HRV heat recovery ventilator  
HSPF heating season performance factor  
HVAC heating, ventilating, and air conditioning  
IAQ indoor air quality  
ICC International Code Council iccsafe.org
ICF insulated concrete form  
IECC International Energy Conservation Code  
LED light emitting diode  
LEED Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design  
MERV minimum efficiency reporting value  
NAHB National Association of Home Builders nahb.org
NZEH net zero energy home  
OSB oriented strand board  
PTAC packaged terminal air conditioner  
QAD Quality Assurance Designee  
RESNET Residential Energy Services Network resnet.us
RH relative humidity  
RTFM read the friendly manual  
SEER seasonal energy efficiency ratio  
sfbe square footage of building enclosure  
SHF or SHR sensible heat fraction or sensible heat ratio  
SHGC solar heat gain coefficient  
SIP structural insulated panel  
SPF spray polyurethane foam  
SWAG scientific wild-ass guess  
WRB weather resistive barrier or water resistant barrier  
wrt with respect to  
XPS extruded polystyrene  

I apologize for not giving definitions and discussions of all of the AI above, but the purpose of this list is just for people to decode the letters when they hear or read them. Perhaps I'll turn it into a full glossary some day.

Get the full list

If you'd like the expanded list of what is currently 107 acronyms and initials, go here:

Get the List!

You can choose to get it as either MS Excel spreadsheet or as a pdf file.

 

I hope you find this list useful. If you're relatively new to the field, it can be quite handy. If you've been in the field for a while, you probably know all or most of what's here, but maybe you have some others that you think I should add. Let me know.

In the meantime, maybe we can start a battle of the Acronyms versus the Initials! On one side, we'd have RESNET, ASHRAE, PHIUS, and ACCA. On the other, BPI, IECC, AHRI, and ASTM. Whaddaya say?

 

Related Articles

HERS Lingo

Know Your Terms - Heat Pump Efficiency Ratings SEER & HSPF

Learn the Lingo - Air Conditioning Terminology & Tidbits

 

Footnote

AI isn't an acronym because if you tried to say it, someone might dial 911. To be an acronym, it'd have to make a nice word-like sound. Something like IMP (Insulation Manufacturers and Partners) or LUST (leaking underground storage tank), for example. (Only one of those is something I made up, btw.) AI isn't an abbreviation either, which is usually a shortened version of a single word. And don't get me started on contractions! No, AI is a set of initials, which is usually the word people should use when they call something an acronym.

 

Image of letters by tikitoy998 from flickr.com, used under a Creative Commons license.

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Tags: education, language, terminology

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Comment by Dennis McCarthy on May 14, 2013 at 1:26pm

Allison

 In my realm of SSL solid state lighting - I have about 80 that apply to lighting like LEDs, OLEDs etc

And while I'm not sure I would use your definition of what constitutes an acronym - one thing is the

same - If you are conversant in energy saving paradigms, products and practices including governing

parties or related concerns-  you had better know most of them and what they mean - 107 acronyms is

a lot - it's got to challenging for someone new to the biz ! Thats 

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