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Everything You Need to Know About BTUs

Everything You Need to Know About BTUsMaking sense of all the terminology used in reference to a home heating system isn’t easy. One term you’ve probably heard many times is “BTU.” If you’d like to know exactly what it means and the role it plays when you’re choosing a furnace or heat pump, here’s a brief primer that can help clarify the topic.

BTUs Explained

BTU is short for “British thermal unit,” but it’s not a term related to heating systems in the U.K. Here in the U.S., it’s used as a measurement of heat energy, with one BTU being the amount of energy used to heat a pound of water by one degree. To help you gauge how much energy that is, one BTU is produced when you completely burn a 4-inch wooden match stick.

Home Heating Equipment and BTUs

When you’re comparing heating equipment like furnaces and heat pumps, you’ll probably notice that they have two BTUs listed. The first number is the input, which is the amount of fuel the unit burns. The second number is the output, or the usable heat the unit generates. When you’re looking at specific models, the input number tells you the capacity or size, while the output number tells you how efficiently they operate.

How Many BTUs Should Your Heating Equipment Have?

Furnaces and heat pumps are available with input BTUs ranging from 40,000 up to 100,000. When you’re selecting new equipment, it’s may seem logical that a bigger capacity is better, but that’s not true. Equipment will short cycle if it’s oversized for your living space, making it too hot when it cycles on and too chilly when it cycles off.

To size equipment correctly for your home, an HVAC contractor needs to do a Manual J calculation based on specific conditions like your:

  • Square footage.
  • Size/type of windows.
  • Amount/type of insulation.
  • Ductwork design.
  • Local climate.

With the equipment capacity calculated, a pro can recommend specific models based on their efficiency ratings.

For expert advice about BTU and efficiency ratings of heating equipment for your San Diego home, contact us at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “geralt/Pixabay”

8 Common HVAC Terms And What They Mean

8 Common HVAC Terms And What They MeanWhen dealing with contractors or technicians regarding your HVAC, it is always better to know what you’re talking about so you can optimize the value of paying an expert to come work on your system. Here are 8 common HVAC terms and what they mean:

Control

A control will be a temperature-control device likely found on a wall inside your home. It contains sensors and relays that monitor and control the functions of your heating and cooling system. Some controls are programmable and allow you to set different temperature levels to optimize your comfort during different parts of the day.

Packaged System

All components of an air conditioning and/or heating system are located in a single cabinet. This all-in-one system is installed beside or on top of your building.

Refrigerant

A substance that manifests a cooling effect. It is commonly used and is found in most air conditioning systems.

Allergen

A substance that causes an allergic reaction. Common allergens include pollen, pet hair, dust, dander, mold, mildew, tobacco smoke, lint, fungus, bacteria, and cooking grease.

Compressor

The heart of an air conditioning system, it makes up a part of the outdoor unit that pumps refrigerant. The compressor keeps a steady pressure to allow the refrigerant to sufficiently flow with the correct quantities.

Thermostat

A device usually found on a wall inside your home that controls the temperature. It has a system of sensors and relays that monitor and control the temperature of your home.

BTU

BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. One BTU is equal to the amount of heat given off by a single match. In your home, it represents how much heat is given off when fuel is burned for heating and also how much heat is lost from your home during cooling.

HSPF

HSPF stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, and it refers to the efficiency of your heat pump throughout an entire heating season. The higher the number, the more efficient your unit.

For more expert tips about HVAC terms and abbreviations, please contact us at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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