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Aug 31 2021

How Many BTUs Does My Air Conditioner Need?

An air conditioner does wonders to keep your home comfortable and safe. On a hot summer day, you’ll be thankful to have the ability to control your home’s temperature. However, if you feel like your AC isn’t doing its job properly, it might not be right for your home. In order for an AC to work at maximum efficiency, it needs to be sized correctly. Selecting the ideal AC is a matter of determining your home’s surface area, and what your specific needs are. Our team at Van Drunen can help you determine the BTUs your home’s AC should have. 

What is a BTU?

BTU is an acronym that stands for British Thermal Unit, which is a measurement of how much energy is required to increase one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit at sea level. All air conditioners have a BTU rating, which basically informs you of how powerful the unit is. BTUs measure energy required to both cool and heat a pound of water, so it might not immediately be clear what this means for an air conditioner.

Rather than heating the air, your AC unit removes heat as air passes through its system, which releases cool air back into the room. BTUs are still a suitable measurement because rather than calculating how much heat it added, it measures how much heat the unit removes. Essentially, if an AC has a high BTU rating, it’s more powerful.

How Many BTUs Do I Need?

Before selecting a new air conditioner, you need to choose a unit that will adequately cool your home. You don’t want a unit with too high of a BTU rating if your house is smaller, since the cooling effects will be too powerful. Conversely, a BTU rating that’s too low will mean you aren’t achieving the cool temperature you desire, and the unit will need to run longer. Generally, an air conditioner needs 20 BTUs per square foot when based on size itself. Of course, our HVAC experts can help you determine the right rating depending on several factors: 

  • How much sun do specific rooms receive
  • Whether your house is beneath shade or gets lots of sunlight
  • The number of floors you have
  • How many people live in your home
  • Ensuring the kitchen receives additional cooling capacity

There may be certain exceptions, so our team can examine your home and help you find the perfect size. 

More BTUs Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Better Cooling

It’s true that a higher BTU rating indicates more powerful cooling capabilities. However, air conditioning units with such a rating are better suited to larger homes. Your home will be cooled very quickly, which can make things uncomfortable. Faster cooling also means the unit will shut off immediately, which can lead to stuffiness as it fails to remove enough moisture. Constant on and off cycles also runs the risk of your unit breaking down prematurely. 

Discuss Your Options With an HVAC Expert

Since it’s not always easy to choose the ideal AC for your home, talk to our team at Van Drunen to determine what BTU rating would work best. 



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