What is a BTU in an air conditioner

As summer winds down and we make preparations for the fall, your AC unit has likely been hard at work. Maybe yours broke and you found yourself looking for a new system. Or maybe you are in the process of renovations and looking into more energy efficient HVAC options. When it comes to HVAC equipment, BTU is a commonly used term. But what does BTU mean?

What is BTU?

A BTU is the abbreviated term for British Thermal Unit. BTU measures thermal energy by quantifying the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by 1° F. When it comes to cooling, BTU measures the energy required to remove heat from the air.

According to Consumer Reports, “an air conditioner needs 20 BTU for each square foot of living space.”


  What should my BTU be? 

Generally, an air conditioner needs 20 Btu for each square foot of living space. But other considerations, such as the ceiling height and the size of your windows and doorways, might require more cooling power.

A licensed HVAC tech  can address your specific home cooling needs to understand the best BTU rating for your home.

Why shouldn’t I choose the highest BTU rating?

Bigger is not always better. In addition to cooling your home, your air conditioner also removes moisture.  If your air conditioner is too powerful, it will cool your home too quickly, which results in your air conditioner shutting off before it has time to remove moisture from the air, leaving your home feeling humid and uncomfortable.

Additionally, when it cools too quickly, this means that it will cycle on and off more often to keep your home to its set temperature. This means that your unit will most likely wear out or break down much sooner than you may have anticipated.


Having an air conditioner with too few BTUs can also problematic. Without enough power, your air conditioner will constantly be running to keep your home cool. Not only will this cause your air conditioner to wear out much faster, but you will also be paying a lot for your energy bills.

When choosing a new air conditioner, BTUs is a very crucial component to consider. You can calculate the necessary number of BTUs you need yourself, but for the best results, it is always best to consult with a professional HVAC technician.


Ultimately, our team of experts can address your specific home cooling needs to understand the best BTU rating for your home.




CPS Heating and Cooling


You can always call on your extended family of dependable heating, cooling, and air quality experts at CPS Heating & Cooling.


Contact us anytime to set up a consultation or call us at 508-460-6691.