If you are looking for a new HVAC unit, chances are you’ll stumble upon the acronym BTU. BTU stands for British thermal unit, which is a unit of measurement that indicates how much energy your air conditioner uses to eliminate heat from your home in an hour. BTU is an important metric to consider when selecting the right size air conditioner for your home.
Why BTU Is Significant When Buying an HVAC Unit
In order to get the importance of BTU when selecting an HVAC unit, you need to understand how the air conditioner works. Air conditioners remove heat from your home’s indoor air and circulate it outside the house. The interior part of the air conditioner is made of coils and fans that replace the hot humid air with the cool air within your ductwork system.
When the HVAC unit removes heat from your home, it is similar to moving energy. The BTU measurement indicates how much energy your AC system will consume in order to eliminate the heat from your house. Therefore, if your HVAC unit has 12,000 BTUs, it means that the HVAC unit consumes 12,000 BTUs of heat each hour to remove the warm, humid air from your house.
Why Energy Is Measured In BTU
BTU is not just used as a unit of measurement in HVAC units. It is also used around the world to measure the amount of heat required to increase or lower a pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. BTU is used to rate the transfer of energy in heat pumps, cooking devices, furnaces, and other heating devices.
HVAC professionals use the BTU measurement to measure both heat loss and heat gain. This is why we recommend consulting with our HVAC experts when buying an HVAC unit to ensure that you buy the unit with the right number of British thermal units for your home.
Buying an HVAC unit that has too many British thermal units for the size of your home will lead to an increase in energy costs. This is because the HVAC unit will run for a shorter time period, causing it to consume more energy than an HVAC unit with lower BTUs. An HVAC unit with BTUs that exceed the required square footage of your home will experience more forces of wear and tear because of its frequent on-and-off cycle.
Additionally, an HVAC unit with high BTUs can also create a poor cooling experience because the air conditioner’s compressor may keep turning off sooner than it should. This type of HVAC unit will not eliminate an adequate amount of heat from your house and will end up creating a humid, hot, sticky, and uncomfortable environment.
Is an HVAC unit with too few BTUs better for your home? No. Getting an HVAC unit without enough BTUs will cause your AC to require frequent troubleshooting. The air conditioner may never turn off because it does not have the capacity to reach the temperature required to cool the space. This will create uneven temperatures throughout your house while also costing you high energy bills.
If you want to avoid the above issues, it is essential that you know the right BTUs for your home when buying an HVAC unit. Also, the number of BTUs that your home requires will help you determine whether you need a ductless unit or a central AC unit.
How to Choose the Right BTU Rating for Your HVAC System
Consumer Reports indicate that an air conditioner requires 20 BTUs for every square footage of space that it cools. Therefore, to get the number of BTUs that your home requires, multiply the total square footage of your home by 20.
For instance, if your home’s square footage is 1,400, then you should look for an HVAC unit with 28,000 BTUs (1400 X 20). However, this estimate may not apply to all living spaces because there are other factors that may affect the BTU. Factors that affect the BTU rating of an HVAC unit other than your home’s square footage include:
- The height of the ceiling
- Size of the doorways
- Size of the windows
Although a BTU calculator can help you estimate the BTU measurement for your HVAC unit, we recommend seeking the guidance of an HVAC expert who can advise you whether to pick an HVAC unit with a slightly higher or lower BTU rating based on other factors about your home.
Relationship between BTU and AC Tonnage
AC tonnage refers to the cooling capacity of the HVAC unit; in other words, the amount of heat the air conditioner can absorb in order to lower room temperature. A ton of cooling or refrigeration represents the amount of heat required to melt 1 ton of ice over 24 hours. This is about 12,000 British thermal units per hour. Therefore, a 2-ton AC has a cooling capacity of 24,000 British thermal units per hour (12,000 x 2), 3-ton AC has a cooling capacity of 36,000 BTUs (12,000 x 3), and so forth.
Ice is used as a reference of measurement in AC tonnage because people used tons of ice to cool their homes in the past before electric air conditioning was invented. The ice would melt slowly as a result of absorbing the heat from the home, thereby lowering a home’s temperatures like modern-day AC systems. As a result, HVAC experts continued to use tons of ice to measure the amount of heat removed from a room using air conditioners.
Luckily for you, you do not need to be an expert in AC tonnage or British thermal units to buy the right HVAC unit for your home. Simply get in touch with us today and our professional HVAC experts will do the math and guide you to the best HVAC unit for your home.
Call Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning Today
Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning offers exceptional HVAC services in the North Valley and Greater Sacramento area. If you are looking for licensed, EPA-certified, and bonded HVAC experts with an A+ rating with the BBB, we are the guys to work with. We put our clients’ needs first to ensure that we offer you the best HVAC services possible.
In addition to helping you find the right AC for your home, our technicians can provide expert installation. We also offer AC repairs and maintenance, as well as a full range of heating services. Are you having issues with your plumbing? We can help with that too. Our other service offerings include indoor air quality, duct cleaning, and water purification. For installations, we can connect you with financing options on approved credit. We also strive to provide specials year-round to help our customers cover the cost of needed services.
Our company has served the area for over three decades, and we have earned the trust of many satisfied customers. Our goal is to ensure that your home’s HVAC and plumbing system is safe, clean, and efficient through all seasons. Call Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning today to learn about our services or speak to an HVAC expert about choosing the right BTU rating for your HVAC unit.