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BTUs: Everything You Need to Know

April 5, 2021 | Blog

If you’re considering replacing your AC unit, you’ll have to make several important decisions before your AC installation! From brand to type to size, it can all get a little overwhelming. 

Luckily, KCA Services is here to help every step of the way. We want you to be confident in your choice of air conditioner, and that means understanding a very important component of AC sizing: BTUs. Read on to learn more about what BTUs are and what they have to do with your new AC unit!

What Does BTU Stand For?

British Thermal Units (BTUs) are a unit of measuring energy input and output. It is most commonly used to classify heating and cooling systems because it measures thermal energy. Thermal energy runs several electrical appliances, so it’s an important unit of measurement to know about! 

How Do BTUs Affect Your AC?

When you are shopping for a new AC unit, you’ll likely come across the word tonnage. AC systems are sized in terms of tons – but that’s not how much they weigh! Tons are another term that refers to how much heat the AC system can remove from your air. Tons are determined by how many BTUs you’ll need to sufficiently heat and cool your home. The conversion between BTUs and tons is very simple:

12,000 BTUs is equal to 1 ton. 

How Many BTUs Do You Need?

There are a couple of ways to correctly calculate how many BTUs of energy output you need to regulate your home. Since this also determines what size AC you’ll need, it is important to be accurate and careful. You shouldn’t just overcompensate by buying the biggest unit you can afford because bigger is not better when it comes to ACs. 

If your AC is too large, it will run short cycles. This will cause energy waste when the system continuously turns on and off throughout the day. It will also mean not enough air is being dehumidified, so  your home will turn humid and moist. 

If your AC is too small, it will spend the whole day trying to catch up to your desired temperature, wasting enormous amounts of energy. You’ll never feel like the temperature in your home quite reaches where you’d like it.

Professional BTU Calculation

One great option is to trust an HVAC contractor to calculate the load of your home. KCA technicians use many factors through your home to provide you with the most precise BTU estimation. You want to make sure that any source of heat or cold that will affect your AC’s ability to keep your air regulated is factored into the calculation. Our team looks for these things, among others:

  • Sun exposure through windows
  • Total living space volume
  • Shade providers (trees and shrubs) 
  • Insulation in your home

If you want the most appropriate sized AC, count on KCA!

DIY BTU Calculation

If you’d like to calculate your BTU load yourself, be aware that it will be a rough estimate. It’s really better to get the final recommendation from a professional. Follow this formula:

(square footage of home) X (25 BTUs) = BTU load

For example, a 1,200 square foot home multiplied by 25 BTUs equals roughly 30,000 BTUs. If you divide this by the 12,000 BTUs per ton, you’ll find that a 2.5 ton AC is probably your best fit.

Need a Professional BTU Recommendation?

KCA Services is your premier HVAC services provider in the Boerne area. We will happily help you calculate your ideal AC size and answer any questions you may have about your AC installation. Contact us today for information from a friendly customer service representative!

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