107 Acronyms & Initials for Home Energy Pros

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home energy alphabet acronym initials

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 classes (HERS rater and BPI Building Analyst).

I'm up to 107 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 useful. If you're relatively new to the field, this list 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.

 

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.

Comments

John Nicholas
May 6 2013 - 7:54am

Great List! 
 
I learned wrt as "with reference to" when using the two taps on a manometer channel. 'respect' doesn't seem to have the same connotations. YMMV

Allison Bailes
May 6 2013 - 8:34am

John N.: I guess I picked up the 'with respect to' meaning from all the math and physics classes I took. In home energy world, though, you are correct that it seems most people use the word 'reference' instead of 'respect.' The meaning is the same in either case.

Allison Bailes
May 6 2013 - 10:09am

Anthony H.: Indeed! 
 
Lisa: Thanks!

Stan
May 6 2013 - 10:47am

I find that those who don't RTFM it seems to generate a WTF, usually followed by a few !!'s, (which I don't see in your short list) from others.

pj
May 6 2013 - 2:01pm

Or As it relates to the effectiveness of the BS business in General we might Add: 
 
FUBAR 
 
SNAFU 
 

Bill Smith
May 6 2013 - 8:57pm

Allison, I know you're a southerner so I assume you have ADD because you forgot CDD

Allison Bailes
May 6 2013 - 9:10pm

Anthony H. (again): And of course, most people are probably aware that the F in RTFM can stand for something besides 'friendly' too. 
 
Stan: Well, that one's common enough and not really industry specific that I didn't feel it was necessary to include it (although RTFM isn't industry specific either). 
 
pj: Well, I guess that depends on who's doing the judging. 
 
Bill S.: Ah, yes, I'm embarrassed to admit that it wasn't even on my expanded list...until just now. I do remember considering it but I guess I didn't include it because it's not used all that much.

Ryan Shanahan
May 8 2013 - 11:56am

John Straube refers to them as TLA's (three letter acronyms) and FLA's (four letter acronyms or* five).

Shawn Mullins
May 11 2013 - 11:42pm

Here's another one for the list: 
 
HIRL - Home Innovation Research Labs. It is the re-branded version of NAHB Research Labs for their green certification program. One would probably pronounce it "hurl", as in upchuck, etc?? Unintended consequences?

Colin Genge
May 12 2013 - 9:12pm

Enough people use ELA when they mean EqLA that ambiguities arise often. We use EfLA for the US or LBNL or Effective Leakage Area and EqLA for the Canadian or Equivalent Leakage Area. The fact that EqLA can be measured as a simple hole cut in a box makes it more useful in the field so it used a fair bit. As it is now, you have to guess from the author as what was intended and if the author is second guessing who the reader is, then they might already have converted to EfLA for example. Without correcting for test pressure and n value of a test we can say that: 
EfLA = EqLA X 0.611 
meaning EqLA is always a bigger value.  
 
While we are at it, we can get dates sorted. US is month-day-year, Canada is day-month-year and Europe is often year-month-day which is the only one that sorts documents chronologically. To avoid the constant confusion with dates, we use year-month-day and certainly not year with two numbers only otherwise what date is 08-09-10 ? There are at least three possibilities but: 2009-08-10 should be clear to anyone and can be put into filenames whereas /or\ as a separator cannot.

Richard Lantz
May 31 2013 - 9:37am

Recommend adding the National Air Duct Cleaners Assoication (NADCA) to your list. 
 
Thanks

Hannah Finch
Jun 10 2014 - 6:40pm

This list is awesome! Thank you!