The Importance of BTUs in Air Conditioning

If you’ve been looking around for a suitable air conditioner, you may already have seen the acronym BTU mentioned in brochures, manuals, and other marketing pamphlets. If you’ve ever wondered about its significance, particularly in how it relates to air conditioning systems, read on:

British Thermal Units

BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. It measures heat, or more specifically, the amount of thermal energy to raise a pound of water’s temperature by one degree at sea level. You may be wondering how this relates to air conditioners when it does the reverse, i.e. it’s supposed to lower a room’s temperature instead of raising it. BTUs in HVACs refer to how many thermal units per hour it can add or remove from the air.

The Importance of BTUs

Higher BTUs in an air conditioning system don’t mean better; room size has to be factored in. A bigger air conditioner doesn’t always equate to a more comfortable room; in fact, it would be ineffective and less efficient compared to the right-sized unit. Consequently, the bigger unit will cool a room too fast, ahead of proper dehumidification. If you’ve ever been in a room that feels “clammy” or somewhat moist, then that room may have improperly sized air conditioners.

On the other hand, choosing a smaller unit and allowing it to cool a room gradually creates a more comfortable environment. It also avoids having to cycle on and off too often, which helps minimize stress on the air conditioner and prolongs its life span. This also helps reduce damage caused by increased humidity. This is especially important for libraries, galleries, and other spaces that store valuable items that are vulnerable to moisture.

Sizing a Room

An air conditioner needs about 20 BTUs for each square foot of living space. This measurement may vary depending on a room’s height, local climate, and window size, among others. If you are purchasing a new air conditioning system, it helps to have the room professionally measured; it helps you get the most out of your new HVAC system and perhaps even enjoy some energy savings.

If you reside in Irvine, CA and nearby areas, McMaster Heating & Air Conditioning would be happy to help you with all your heating and air conditioning needs. Call us today at (949) 481-7995 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.