Agency provides users’ guide to the mystery of Btus
Natural gas is commonly priced in terms of million British thermal units, or Btu. But what is a Btu?
The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently published a readable, short primer on Btu, a common measure of the energy content of various sources of energy.
"One Btu is the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit," the EIA explains. How much is that? About the energy emitted from a single wooden kitchen match when lit, the EIA says.
A gallon of gasoline equals 124,000 Btu. A typical U.S. house consumes 115,000 Btu of electricity per day. How cheap is U.S. natural gas these days? A quick set of calculations comes up with this: Last year, a typical household paid about $10.50 for a million Btu of natural gas, while gasoline costs an average of $28 per million Btu of energy. (Natural gas prices sometimes are quoted per thousand cubic feet, which is close in energy value to a million Btu.)
The EIA article is a useful reference for understanding how many Btus are present in different sources of energy, such as natural gas, coal, gasoline and electricity. Read it here.