Difference Between Heat and Temperature

Heat and temperature are the two interrelated terminologies but conceptually the two are different. The crucial difference between heat and temperature is that heat is a form of energy. As against temperature is the measure of the amount of thermal energy. This is the reason we have already mentioned in the beginning itself that the two are related to each other.

There exists a direct relationship between heat and temperature. This means when the heat content is higher, then the temperature will be more. While with a decrease in the amount of heat of a substance, the temperature will also decrease. However, a point to be kept in mind is that it is not necessary that two bodies with the same temperature have similar heat content.

It is known to us that, rise in temperature of a substance is the result of providing heat to it. This is the reason people often mix the two terms. Here in this article, we will see the differentiating factors between the two. But before that check the contents that are covered in this article.

Content: Heat Vs Temperature

  1. Comparison Chart
  2. Definition
  3. Key Differences
  4. Conclusion

Comparison Chart

Basis for ComparisonHeatTemperature
BasicA form of energyMeasurement of thermal energy in a substance.
Symbolically represented as QT
Defined as Ability to do work.Measures the amount of heat.
SI unitJouleKelvin
Other measuring unitsCaloriesFahrenheit, Celsius
Depends onMass, type of particle, speed of particle.Only on average molecular motion.
Measured byCalorimeter (using principle of calorimetry)Thermometer
SignifiesTotal potential and kinetic energy of the substanceAverage kinetic energy of the molecules of the substance.
MeasurementProduct of no. of molecules and energy possessed by each molecule.The speed of molecular motion in a substance signifies the level of temperature.

Definition of Heat

Heat is a form of energy. More specifically, it is thermal energy that can be transferred from an object to another. It is associated with the overall energy generated due to the motion of molecules in a substance.

We know that every matter in this universe is composed of atoms and molecules. The movement of the atoms in a molecular structure gives rise to a form of energy known as Heat. This simply signifies the overall energy of molecular motion in a substance. Heat is kinetic energy as it is associated with the motion of molecules. The heat from a substance to others can be transferred using three ways:

  • Conduction
  • Convection
  • Radiation

It is to be noted here that the amount of heat present in a substance not only depends on the speed with which the molecules are moving but also the number and type of particles constituting the substance.

Heat is transferred from high to low temperatures. This means whenever there is a contact between two bodies with different thermal energy content then the body with higher energy transfers its energy to the body with lower energy.

A hotter object has more heat content than an object which is cold.

Definition of Temperature

A physical property of a substance that signifies the determination of the amount of heat content in a substance is known as temperature. It tells about the hotness or coldness of the substance thus corresponds to the average kinetic energy of the particles.

We know that hot and cold are non-scientific terminologies, but both of them hold huge significance when the term temperature is discussed. We have already discussed that substance with more heat is hot while the one which is cold has less heat. This is the reason to define temperature which deals with the molecular motion of the particles in a substance, the degree of hotness or coldness is taken into consideration.

Unlike heat, the measurement of temperature is independent of mass or type of particle, as it is an average measurement thus is related to the motion of particles. A body with a high temperature signifies that there is a high energy vibrational movement of the molecules.

Consider an example of two separate vessels, one of 2ml and the other of 4ml completely filled with water. Even if the two vessels are at the same temperature then also the vessel with more water contains more amount of heat than the one with less water. This is so because more water will have more thermal energy despite having the same temperature.

Key Differences Between Heat and Temperature

  1. The heat present in a substance signifies the total amount of energy (i.e., the sum of potential and kinetic energy) of the molecules. While the temperature of the substance associated with the average kinetic energy of the molecule.
  2. For two objects in contact, the total heat energy will be the sum of thermal energy content in each object. However, for two bodies in contact having different temperature, the resultant temperature will be a value between the two values.
  3. Heat is specified in terms of Joule, while sometimes also measured in calories. But temperature is generally measured in Kelvin whereas the other measuring units are Celsius and Fahrenheit.
  4. Heat present in a substance is measured through the principle of calorimetry, thus calorimeter is the device that measures heat content. On the contrary, the temperature is measured using a thermometer.
  5. The heat of a substance depends on the speed with which the particles are moving, mass, type of particle, etc. While the temperature dependency is simply concerned with the molecular motion in the substance.
  6. The heat of a substance is denoted as Q, while the temperature is denoted as symbol T.
  7. Heat is basically a kind of energy while temperature is a measure of that energy.
  8. Heat is measured as the product of a number of particles and the energy content of each particle. As against, temperature measurement is associated with how fast or slow the molecules are moving with the change in heat.


This discussion concludes that heat and temperature are two independently different terms but are related to each other. The amount of heat present in a substance varies its temperature. This means the higher the heat, the more will be the temperature, and the lower the heat content, the lesser will be the temperature.

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