If you’ve started shopping around for a gas fireplace, you’ve probably been impressed with all the different styles that are available and likely gotten a pretty good idea of what you think would be just perfect for your living room, family room etc.. But then you’ve also run into the question of BTUs. You might wonder how many BTUs you need. Are more BTUs better that fewer? And what the heck is a BTU anyway?
Let’s start with that last question. BTU stands for British Thermal Unit and it simply refers to the amount of energy (or heat) necessary to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. If all this sounds a little too complicated, just remember that it is a unit of heat.
So the more BTUs your gas fireplace is, the more capacity it will have for heating the room. That said however, more is not always better since you only really need enough BTUs to keep your home comfortable (a larger amount may just end up wasting energy and adding to you heating bill).
So how many BTUs do you actually need?
The answer to this question depends on a number of variables including the size of your room, how many windows you have, amount of insulation and how cold your winters get in your area. If you have other efficiency problems in your home such as poor insulation or leaky windows, then taking care of these things first will allow you to go with a fireplace that has lower BTUs.
Most Southwestern Ontario homes require between 10,000 and 20,000 BTUs with the average being around 14,000 during the coldest months.
Obviously, however, if you are heating a very large space, the amount of BTUs will need to be higher than if you only need to heat a small area. The last thing you want to have is lower powered fireplace in a large room that everyone has to huddle around or one that is too powerful that turns your small space into a sauna!
In every home there is a sweet spot called the comfort zone. This is that spot where your room or home reaches a comfortable temperature that can be maintained with a steady level of heat or BTUs. It is that ideal spot where no one in the home is thinking about the blustery weather outside, and no one in the family is waging war over the thermostat.
Before shopping for you gas fireplace, it is helpful to measure the room that you will be putting it in including the height of the ceilings. Take note of how many windows you have in that room and which direction they are facing.
Based on this information, professional HVAC technicians like the ones at Hamilton Home Comfort can help you determine how many BTUs you will need for your gas fireplace. Don’t get caught up in believing the “more is always better” myth. Finding the ideal amount of heat output will allow you to keep your room warm and cozy all winter long.