WHAT’S A BTU? AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?

If you own a home in North America, and you use heat or hot water, chances are you’ve seen the term “BTUs” before; if you’ve read a gas or electricity bill before you may have seen the term on there or you may have seen it labeled on a water heater. If you’ve paid that gas bill or had to replace that water heater, you may have noticed that as you use more of those BTUs, the amount of money you spend increases. So what is a BTU?

BTU doesn’t stand for Bill to Utilities, though it may seem like it; BTU stands for British Thermal Units. Yes, this is America, but the standard measurement of energy on utilities in most English speaking countries is the BTU! A BTU is defined as the measurement of “work” needed to raise the temperature of a pound of liquid water by one degree Fahrenheit.

Think of it like you think of calories: A calorie is almost the same thing, one calorie provides a specific amount of energy to your body. A BTU provides a specific amount of energy to the resources that heat your home or water. With a calorie, you can either eat something or drink something that provides calories, whether it’s a can of soda or a kale salad, it provides your body with energy. Depending on your size and metabolism you may need more or fewer calories than average to operate at peak efficiency. A BTU operates on the same principal, whether it’s gas or electricity, you need more energy to warm a larger house, especially if it operates inefficiently. If heat escapes through the walls or roof of the home, more energy is necessary to maintain the inside temperature.

BTUs can be generated from a number of different natural resources, and while the end product may be the same, the resources used can vary in price and environmental efficiency. Regardless of
where you get them from, though, BTUs cost money. Here at Energy Services Group, we use proven and effective techniques to keep your home operating at peak efficiency, so you spend less money on BTUs and can enjoy a comfortable living space year-round.