Buying an AC is not a simple decision. Firstly, because it is an expensive investment, and secondly, the comfort of your indoor space relies heavily on it. You have to consider some mathematical values, such as the MERV rating of the proposed air filters, the SEER value of the cooling unit, and BTU. Though people are much aware of MERV and SEER values, very few know or understand about BTU. Since it is a critical factor in your final decision, we thought it best to give you an insight into it.
British Thermal Unit (BTU)
The full form of BTU is the British Thermal Unit, and it is a form of measuring energy. One BTU is the total energy needed to increase the temperature of one pound of water by 1˚F. The most popular usage of BTUs is in context with heating and cooling systems. What BTU is to a heating and cooling system calorie is to your body. Where calorie gives energy to the body BTU gives power to the system.
Importance Of BTU
So what makes BTU all that important? BTU is vital because it tells the total power of the said appliance. In HVAC systems, the higher the BTU, the quicker the AC or furnace will modify the indoor temperature. It means you will get faster relief when you are in the comforts of your home, office, or commercial building.
The Flip Side
Higher BTU means quick comfort, but its flip side is that it results in higher energy bills. So it may not always be right to go with a unit that has the maximum BTU. Sometimes, buying a system with lesser BTU is the right decision, even if it takes a few minutes longer for the indoor space to become comfortable.
BTU In Context To Air Conditioner’s
Instead of heating, air conditioners remove heat from the air and circulate cool air back in. BTUs still work as a form of measurement in this case. Instead of calculating the quantity of heat added to the air in your home, they measure how much heat is removed. Just like with heaters, the higher the BTU rating of an air conditioner, the more powerful it is.
How Much BTU do I Need for an Air Conditioner?
You must have often been told or heard that the AC needs to be of an appropriate size for your home. It does not mean it has to be of a fixed dimension. It means that the AC should be the one with a BTU rating closest to what is recommended for your home.
BTU rating depends on several factors. When you consider them all together, only then can the exact requirement for your home or any other closed space be determined. The key factors are:
1. Size Of The Home – The size of the home is a critical consideration. Its square footage will give you a clear idea of the precise BTUs needed. Another important consideration is the height of the walls. The common practice is to assume that the walls are 8 feet tall. If your ceiling is higher or lower, it will have a say on the power of your prospective AC. Thankfully, there are online charts and calculators available for you to determine the BTUs as long as you know the size and height of your closed space that needs cooling.
2. Location And Floor Plan – Other than the size of the structure, another critical factor is the location. Homes that are set up in hot climates will need more power than those in cooler or moderate temperature zones. In the same way, if your home has a sprawling or expansive floor plan, it will require more power in comparison to compact or duplex homes.
3. Quality Of Insulation – Lastly, the quality of insulation will be the final deciding factor. Homes with poor insulation need more power in AC as there is a continuous loss of cold air. Conversely, with top-of-the-tier insulation, you need not look for an AC with a lot of power. Do keep in mind that if your home has more windows, the need for power will increase. Therefore, when you consider insulation, look at it along with the number of windows.
How To Calculate The Right Size?
To be upfront, it is best if you leave the BTU calculation for your AC to the HVAC technician. The calculation method is quite complex, and a single misstep will result in an expensive mistake, though you can always use the online calculator for assistance. Even then, ask your local HVAC contractor to validate your answer. Getting a second opinion may prevent a costly error of judgment from occurring.
Why Not Buy An AC With High BTU
As we mentioned earlier, higher BTU means increased power consumption, which, in turn, means bigger energy bills. Now, bigger is not always better. An oversized unit will cool your house faster, but it will also put stress on the cooling system. Think in terms of the food you eat and your body’s actual requirement. If you eat less, you become malnourished, weak, and ill. On the other hand, if you eat more, you become obese and lethargic leading to lifestyle ailments. The same is the case with AC. A high BTU AC will only add to your woes by big power bills, frequent breakdowns, and failing components.
It’s A Wrap
BTU is a critical consideration when buying a new AC. To make your home comfortable, you need to figure out the correct size or power of the AC. Even though you can rely on online calculators to find the answer, it is still better to consult a professional.
To calculate the BTUs for your new AC, the residents of West Palm Beach can bank on the services of Aztil Air Conditioning. We are a reputable HVAC contractor serving South Florida since 1981. In addition to consulting, we also provide HVAC installations, repairs, maintenance, replacements, air duct cleaning, etc. In short, we are your one-stop shop for all HVAC needs. We are available 24/7, so you can call us any time at +1-888-729-8452 to book an appointment.