Resources: U.S. Department of Energy, Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)

  • By Leah Lerner

    Humans need only food, water and shelter for basic survival. But if you want to be in a good mood about it? Throw in heat and air conditioning.

    Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are the unsung saviors behind our everyday comfort. If one goes kablooey, everybody loses -- and Murphy's Law dictates this will happen during an ice storm, heat wave, or the middle of Thanksgiving dinner.

    That's why we've boiled down the HVAC basics. So if your system goes wonky, you've got a shot at minimizing the meltdowns, the deep-freezes -- and the money pit.

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