Determining How Many BTU’s Your Home Needs

A common question that many homeowners have is “How many BTU’s do I need to heat my home?” The answer depends on 3 variables; size, insulation, and exterior temperatures. Most homeowners fail to consider the latter two variables when deciding how many BTU’s their heater needs. As you might imagine, doing so can leave your out in the cold!

How Many BTU’s Do I Need: 3 Variables

What the heck is a BTU? You’re not alone. We’ve created a post to explain what a BTU is. We recommend reading it before continuing with this article.

1. Size

The first thing you need to know is the size of the space you wish to heat. When we say size, this really means VOLUME! Most people only calculate the size of a room based on the formula Length X Width. You have to consider the height of your ceiling. Take for instance a living room with a 15 foot vaulted ceiling. Will this space heat similarly to a room with standard 8 foot ceilings? Probably not.

2. Insulation

Before you even begin working on your home heating solutions, make sure that your house is properly insulated. Older homes tend to have dated insulation between walls. This can lead to decreased energy efficiency and ultimately cost you more money to heat the same space.

Check insulation surrounding windows and doors in your home. If you have a chimney vent, make sure that the vent is closed and purchase a chimney cap to ensure that no hot air is escaping. You can read this article for more Home Insulation Tips. How well your home is insulated will determine how well your home retains the heat generated by your heater.

3. Exterior Temperatures

If you live in an area that experiences sub-zero temperatures, your home will require more BTU’s to keep things nice and toasty. Depending on the amount of degrees you would like to increase the inside temperature of your home, your BTU’s will fluctuate accordingly.

BTU’s Per Square Foot

A BTU is actually a mathematic formula that defines the amount of heat necessary to raise 1 pound of water 1 degree Fahrenheit. Don’t worry, we promise we won’t give you flash back of calculus! K.I.S.S – Keep It Simple…Silly!

20 BTU x Area (ft2)

BTU Calculator

Check out this cool BTU Calculator we found on You can plug in the dimensions of your home to see how many BTU’s you need!

UPDATE: 4/8/2014 The BTU calculator is currently unavailable. Please check back when calculator has been restored. We apologize for any inconveniences!


1. How Many BTUs to heat a 2000 sq ft house

According to our handy dandy BTU formula, you could figure this out by calculating:

20 BTU x 2000 ft2 = 40,000 BTU’s

To heat a 2,000 square foot home, you will need approximately 40,000 BTU’s of heating power. To find ways to lower this number, read the Alternative Home Heating Solutions section below!

2. How Many BTU Do I need to Heat My Garage

A standard garage in an American home measures 20 x 20 ft2 = 400ft2. Let’s do some math people!

20 BTU X 400 ft2 = 8,000 BTU’s

It takes approximately 8,000 BTU’s to heat the standard American garage! This can be done with a space heater like an electric fireplace! Who runs a heating duct into their garage anyway?

Alternative Home Heating Solutions

We have tons of alternative heating solutions posted on Our Blog. You can browse through many topics to learn how to increase mercury levels without cringing at your utility bills. For a heating comparison, check out this efficiency comparison between wood burning, gel, and electric fireplaces.

Electric fireplaces can be a great solution for homes big and small. Think about it. Why waste money heating rooms in your house that aren’t even occupied. Electric fireplaces are space heaters that can amply warm your living room, master bedroom, and garage. Simply plug into a standard electrical outlet and enjoy the heat.

Electric fireplaces emit anywhere from 4,000-10,000 BTU’s of heat. If you do the math, that’s enough to heat a 500 square foot room! Remember, these are supplemental heating solutions and should not be compared to central home heating solutions. They are alternative ways to stay warm inside the home!

Portable is the web’s #1 e-tailer of Brand Name electric fireplaces! Browse free-standing, wall-mounted, and media center units from the comfort of your home!