Posted by: lcowie | November 16, 2010

Units of Energy

One of the hardest concepts to remember during my BPI training course was the equivalent units of energy. I have a chart detailing the number of BTUs per fuel source. For example, 1 wooden match equals 1 BTU, and 1 Kilowatt Hour (kWh) is equal to 3,412 BTUs. There are 10 fuels listed on the chart. It was so hard for me to remember all the numbers.

The one thing I did remember from the chart is that 1 MMBtu is equal to 1,000,000 BTUs. As far as I am concerned, this is the most important line on the chart. M is equal to 1,000, so MM equals M x M. This is a very easy calculation. It is easy to understand how MMBtu equals 1,000,000 BTUs. I couldn’t understand how some of the other listings were equivalent to the BTU listing. I couldn’t figure out the math.

Another reason why MMBtu is important is because MMBtus are used for comparing annual heating loads of different systems regardless of fuel type. It is almost as though MMBtu is the constant unit among platforms. If you want to compare BTUs per fuel type, you should convert them to MMBtu to get standardization.

The best part of this lesson is that it is not really on the exam!! I don’t remember seeing much about units of energy, at least when it comes to equivalency. There were a few questions asking what the unit was for energy or for power, but I don’t recall any questions asking me to compare fuel energies.

Please comment if you have an easy way of remembering the fuel energy equivalencies.

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