Determining How Many BTUs Your Home Needs For Proper Heating

Family sitting by a fireplace in their family home on Christmas eve

When ancient humans discovered fire and begin using it for warmth, they also discovered the principle behind BTUs, although they didn’t realize it. Today, we refer to heat production in terms of BTUs, or British Thermal Units. What does this have to do with heating your house?
A British Thermal Unit represents the amount of energy necessary to heat – or cool – a pound of water by one degree. Scientific talk aside, think of BTUs in terms of how much heat an appliance will throw off. Gas fireplaces, for example, are rated for BTUs, and this is the best way to determine what kind of unit will be ideal for heating a given space.
BTU requirements for your home
When considering adding a gas fireplace, a wood-burning fireplace insert, an electric stove or any other heating appliance, step 1 is working out the size of the room where the unit will be placed.
Normally when we think of the size of a room, we think width X length. But when figuring the amount of space that needs to be heated, you have to also measure up. That means adding the height of the ceiling into your calculations to get the total cubic feet of space.
Doing some measurements and then talking with an expert in home heating solutions will answer the important question, What heating system will produce enough heat for the living room, or den, or whatever room the unit will be used in? That’s a good start, but there’s another important question: How well-insulated is my home?
Insulation and home heating
If a home doesn’t have sufficient insulation in the walls, and if there are cracks around windows and doors, it’s going to take a lot more BTUs from your heating appliance to properly heat the room. For this reason, it’s a good idea to solve any insulation problems that are allowing too much cold to come in and too much heat to flow out.
How cold is it where you live?
The effect of the BTU power your stove or fireplace produces will be affected by outside temperatures. That is, it will take more BTUs to heat a 14X18 room when it’s 2 degrees outside than it will if it’s 30 degrees. Calculating the appropriate BTUs by taking into account the range of winter temperatures in your area is best done with someone skilled in heat technology and knowledgeable about the climate in which you live.
Choosing the best fireplace or stove for your home starts with understanding how much space you need to heat and moves on to making sure your home is properly insulated. To help you with these initial calculations, use this handy BTU calculator.
After that, it’s just a matter of shopping for appliances that will produce the amount of BTUs you need to stay warm and comfortable all winter.
Marsh’s Stoves & Fireplaces of Toronto is ready to show you a wide range of elegant solutions for home heating. Check out the latest and greatest models of energy-efficient stoves and fireplaces at our showroom located at 3322 Dundas Street West. You can reach us by phone at (416) 762-4582.