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What is BTU and What Does it Mean to You?

What is BTU and What Does it Mean to You?

You may have passed by this strange term, BTU, without understanding what it meant, we can help.

What is BTU and what does it mean to you? If you have ever looked at the specifications of an air conditioner or heater, or even some other appliances, then you have probably noticed the term BTU. You may have just passed by this strange term without understanding what it meant, and that could have caused you to purchase a heater or air conditioner that wasn’t fully up for the job. We are here to help you understand BTU and what it means to you.

What is BTU?

BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, which is the unit used to measure thermal (heat) energy. This unit of heat; is defined as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit at sea level. When used to relate to air conditioning or heating systems, the measurement is expressed in terms of how many BTUs per hour the product can add or remove from the air.

What Products Use BTU?

While BTU is most commonly a unit of measure used for heating and air conditioning appliances, it is also used to measure the effectiveness of other common home appliances. BTU is also used in the specifications of:

– Pellet Stoves
– Cooking Devices (Oven, Stove, Toaster Oven, etc.)
– Gas/Propane Fire Pits
Water Heaters
– Fireplaces
– Outdoor Cooking Devices (Grills, Smokers, etc.)
– Solar Water Heaters (i.e. in a pool or hot tub)

Basically, anything that is used to heat or cool items throughout your home, should have a BTU assigned to it.

What Does BTU Mean to You?

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), a single BTU is equal to the energy released by burning a match. The EIA says that in 2013, the United States, used enough BTUs to light about 98 quadrillion matches. The more BTUs you use, the more energy that is consumed and the higher your energy bill will be.

We are going to break down BTU in terms of cooling and heating:

Cooling: BTU for air conditioning, refers to the amount of heat that the unit can remove from the air per hour (BTU/hr). Basically, how quickly an air conditioner can cool down your home. When it comes to air conditioning, when looking at the BTU, you don’t want one that produces too much BTU for your space. Too high of BTU could cost you a lot of money in your energy bills and could wear out your system by continuously turning on and off.

Heating: Heating systems use BTU in two ways: BTU input and BTU output. The BTU input is the amount of fuel/heat the heater can consume per hour. BTU output is the amount of heat the heater can put out (BTU/hr). As with cooling systems, when selecting a heater, it is important that you choose one that has the right output for your space. If you have a heater that is too large for the space, it will need to be turned to a lower setting; resulting in lower heating efficiency. On the flip side, when a heater is too small for the space, it will not be able to heat the area appropriately and will result in inadequate performance.

Let us do the Work for You

Understanding BTU and what is right for you and your Western New York home can be confusing. There are lots of BTU calculation and conversion charts that you can review, or you can let us help. When selecting the right HVAC system for your home, our experts can explain BTU to you and help you find the right systems.

Duffett Plumbing, Heating & AC is your locally trusted home services team. We’re proud to provide the very best in heating and air conditioning in Hamburg, NY and Erie County. We’re also your full-service plumbing team. We’re available 24/7. Contact us today.