If you’re in the market for a new furnace, it can be overwhelming to understand all of the technical information. One term you may have come across is BTU. This is a good place to start to help you find the correct size of furnace for your home and accurately compare different brands and models. So what’s the big deal about BTU? Allow us to explain.
What does BTU mean, and why is it important?
BTU is short for British Thermal Unit, and is the unit of measure of capacity for heating systems. To be technical, it measures how much energy is needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by 1°F. In other words, the rating tells you how much energy a furnace or heat pump can produce.
In general, the larger your home is, the more BTUs your system will need to effectively heat your home (we’ll talk more about this later). Residential furnaces can range from 40,000 to 200,000 BTUs, but most homes will fall into the 80,000 to 100,000 range.
As mentioned earlier, BTU is all about capacity. So, don’t confuse this term with energy-efficiency, which is measured by AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) for furnaces and SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) for heat pumps.
How to calculate BTUs for your home
It’s important that your furnace is the correct size for your home – and bigger isn’t always better, in this case. Determining the BTUs needed isn’t as simple as looking at the size of your home. The most accurate method is the Manual J Load calculation, which takes several factors into account, including:
- Square footage
- Home’s construction and building materials
- Insulation grade
- Window and door tightness
- Sun exposure
- Number of occupants
Calculating the required BTU using the Manual J Load calculation isn’t an easy task for most homeowners, so you’ll want to bring in an experienced HVAC technician.
Local heating experts
While it’s a good idea to understand the basics of heating systems, you don’t necessarily have to select your new furnace by yourself. If you live in the Fredericksburg area, you can turn to the experienced HVAC team at Robert B. Payne, Inc. We can calculate the appropriate BTU load for your home and help you choose the best heating system for your needs and budget. To get started, contact us or call (540) 373-5876 today.