What is a BTU?

Air Conditioning, FAQs

BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. It is a unit of measurement for the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. BTUs are commonly used to measure the cooling and heating capacity of HVAC units.

How do BTUs relate to your home Air Conditioner? The BTU rating of your Air Conditioner tells you how much heat it can remove from your home in one hour. For example, a 12,000 BTU air conditioner can remove 12,000 BTUs of heat from your home in one hour. A system capable of removing 12,000 BTU is known as 1 ton.

The BTU rating of your HVAC unit is important because it needs to be matched to the size of your home. If your HVAC unit has too many BTUs, it will be oversized and will not operate efficiently. If your HVAC unit has too few BTUs, it will be undersized and will not be able to cool or heat your home effectively.

Here are a few things you should know about BTUs:

  • BTUs are not the same as watts. Watts are a measure of power, while BTUs are a measure of energy.
  • BTUs are not the same as seer. Seer stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and is a measure of how efficiently an air conditioner operates.
  • 12,000 BTUs is known as a ton. Not all 3 ton equipment has a capacity of 36,000 BTUs. Equipment can vary up to 4,000 BTUs depending on how the equipment is configured.

When choosing an HVAC unit, it is important to select a unit with the correct BTU rating for your home. How do you know this? By completing a heat loss load calculation. Air & Electrical Services calculates the BTUs require for homes using the latest software to complete a load calculation (known as a Manual J Load Calculation.)