The time comes for us all. Whether we want to or not, we’ve eventually got to shop for a new air conditioner or heater. Maybe we’ve got more space than we know what to do with, or a new member of the family is taking up a previously unused bedroom and needs some extra heat.

Whatever the reason, buying a new electrical appliance can be overwhelming if you haven’t done it before – or at least not in a while. All the numbers and abbreviations can be overwhelming, but maybe we can help with one of the most important ones: BTUs. Here’s a quick guide to what they are, and how understanding them will help you!

Breaking Down BTUs

To figure out how BTUs help you, it’s helpful to know the ins and outs of them. BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, and they’re a measure of how much thermal output something produces.

A single BTU is an indicator of the amount of energy it takes for the temperature of 1 pound of water to be raised by 1 degree Fahrenheit at sea level. To put it simply, it’s a way of measuring heat. BTUs aren’t just used for heaters and air conditioners – electrical appliances use them as well, because it’s a fairly handy unit of measurement.

How They Help

BTUs aren’t created equally. When you see a BTU rating on a heater, you’re seeing how many BTUs it can add to the air around you, while an air conditioner’s BTU rating is how much heat it can remove from the air – so keep that in mind when you’re looking at appliances.

But knowing the BTU rating is half the battle. Simply putting an appliance in any room won’t achieve the effect you’re hoping for: you need to adjust the rating for the square footage of the room you’re trying to heat or cool.

That’s because too high or too low of a BTU rating can be detrimental. If the rating is too high, then the heater/air conditioner will cycle on and off too quickly – wasting valuable energy and lowering the efficiency dramatically. Select a unit with too low of a rating, though, and it won’t have the power to reach the temperature you want the room to get to.

How to Find the Right One for You

So, what to do? First, find out the measurements for the room you’re trying to heat or cool, then use a BTU calculator to see which power level works best. You can find plenty of these calculators all over the internet, so it’s not hard to do.

You’ll also need to adjust the rating a bit for certain features in your home. If the room is on the second story, for instance, it’ll need a bit more power – same goes for a room that faces direct sunlight often.


Wherever you are on your temperature-regulating journey, Freedom Air & Heat is here to help! We’ll work with you to find the right-sized heater or air conditioner for your situation. You can count on us for any heating or cooling-related questions, so give us a call at 321-631-6886 to learn more!