How Do I Know What Size Furnace I Need for My House?

Does your home still feel chilly even if you’ve installed a brand-new furnace? It might be the wrong size for your home. It’s important to choose the right furnace that can provide enough heat. Below, we’ll go over several factors to keep in mind when shopping for a new furnace.

Understanding BTU

BTU, or British Thermal Unit, is a standard unit of measurement for heating efficiency. It indicates the thermal energy output of each furnace. In more technical terms, the BTU determines how much energy is required to increase the temperature of water by one-degree Fahrenheit. Most furnaces are rated at 100,000 BTU per hour, but this varies on the size of each home furnace. Generally, the bigger the furnace, the higher the BTU rating.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Furnace Size

Many homeowners make the common mistake of purchasing the largest furnace they can find. A furnace with a high BTU rating doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the ideal size for your home. 30 BTUs is required to heat every 1,000 square feet. This means that if you have a 1,000-square-foot home, you’ll need a unit that has 30,000 BTUs of output. Here are a couple of things to consider when choosing a furnace:

Age of the Home

Homes that were built in the 50s and older aren’t energy-efficient. They typically don’t have polystyrene insulation and air-tight windows that protect the house from even the strongest winds. This means that older homes may require a large furnace to stay warm during cold nights.

Quality of Windows in the Home

Check the quality of your windows. If you live in an older home, you probably have drafty window frames that allow cold air to get in and hot air to escape. You may need to fill in the gaps around your window before buying a furnace. Additionally, if you have multiple windows facing the south, this will already bring natural warmth into your home. In that case, a furnace with a lower BTU rating would suffice.

Location of the Home

Where you live determines how often you’ll have to use your furnace. In warmer states like California and Louisiana, it’s unlikely that you’ll experience freezing nights. However, if you live in Minnesota, you’ll need a furnace with a high BTU output to fight harsh winters where temperatures can fall below zero degrees.

Size of the Home

Your home’s square footage influences the size of the furnace you need. The bigger the home, the greater output is required to heat the entire space. Determining your home’s square footage is fairly simple -- all you have to do is review your home’s appraisal or lease. If these aren’t available to you, you can always measure each room manually using a tape measure.

Don’t Play a Guessing Game

When it comes to choosing the ideal furnace size for your home, the last thing you should do is to play a guessing game. You should avoid taking the “trial and error” approach, as this can lead to expensive energy bills, cold winter nights, and more. Better yet, ask the help of a professional technician in determining the appropriate size for your home furnace.