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BTU What is BTUs and How Do THey Effect Me?


In the heating and air conditioning industry the measure of heat that heating fuels and appliances produce is referred to as a BTU (British Thermal Unit). Below you will find information in reference to BTUs.

What Is It?
How Is It Used?
How Does It Effect Me?


What is it?

A BTU or British Thermal Unit is the amount of energy needed to heat one pound of water by one degree fahrenheit. For example, a 16 oz glass of water is at 59° F, it would take 1 BTU to raise that glass of water to 60° F. Or, it would take 153 BTUs to raise that glass of water to the boiling point of 212° F. 1 BTU is roughly equivalant to the burning of 1 match.

How Is It Used?

Each type of energy fuel and each appliance has an estimate of the amount of BTUs it can produce. 1 gallon of Kerosene can produce approximately 135,000 BTUs, 1 gallon of #2 Heating Oil can produce approximately 140,000 BTUs, and 1 gallon of Propane can produce approximately 92,000 BTUs.

Heating appliances are rated by the amount of BTUs they can produce with their given gallon of fuel. The higher the BTU rating the less amount of time that appliance will produce heat with 1 gallon of fuel. Example, we have a Kerosene heater that produces 25,000 BTUs, 1 gallon of kerosene itself can produce 135,000 BTUs, dividing the BTUs of the fuel by the BTUs of the appliance you get the amount of time the appliance will produce heat. In this example the Kerosene heater will be able to produce its output of heat at 25,000 BTUs for approximately 5.4 hours.

How Does It Effect Me?

The size of your house, type and amount of insulation, along with the quality of doors and windows in your house all get calculated into how many BTU's per hour it takes to heat your house. Choosing a new or replacement appliance with the appropriate output for your home type is very important to help minimize your fuel consumption while still keeping your home warm.

Having appliances or furnance that are rated at a BTU output too low for your house type and size can mean that your appliances my have to run 2-3 times as much as a larger output appliance or furnace would to acheive the same result. Therefore a lower fuel consuming appliance is not always the best answer. The appliance might consume less fuel per hour but run longer per cycle than a larger appliance, which over time will use more fuel to gain the same result.

Always consult a professional when choosing a heating or cooking fuel and appliance.

Have Questions About BTUs and Fuel Use? Contact Us




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