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Difference between Heat and Temperature

We often talk about heat and temperature in our day to day life while talking about the weather, hot metallic substance, tea, coffee, fever etc. The concept of heat and temperature are somewhat related but not alike. There is a fine line between heat and temperature. Let us see how heat differs from temperature!


Heat is a type of energy; we can call it heat energy. It is the total amount of kinetic and potential energy possessed by the molecules of an object. It is basically the transfer of thermal energy between objects due to the difference in temperature. In other words, heat measures how thermal energy moves from one object to another object, e.g. from a hotter object to a colder object. In other words, the transfer of heat between two objects due to the difference in the temperature is called heat.

An object which is very hot has a lot of heat energy and when it gets cold it loses most of the heat energy or it has less heat energy. The hotter object losses heat or heat energy and colder object gains the heat or heat energy. An object can gain or lose heat but it cannot have heat. It is not a property possessed by an object or system. The transfer of heat energy can occur in three ways by conduction, convection or radiation. The standard unit of heat in the International System of Units (SI) is the joule (J).


Temperature is a measure of the hotness or coldness of an object. In other words, it is a measure of the average kinetic energy (heat or heat energy) of the particles of an object. It depends on the kinetic energy of the molecules which are in constant motion. The faster the molecules of an object move, the more kinetic energy they have. The more kinetic energy the particles of an object have, the higher is the temperature. Temperature is measured in various scales such as Kelvin, Celsius and Fahrenheit.

Based on the above information, some of the key differences between heat and temperature are as follows:

Heat Temperature
It is the heat energy, the total kinetic energy of all molecules in an object. It is a measure of energy (the hotness or coldness) of an object.
It is average kinetic energy and potential energy stored by atoms or molecules of an object. It is the measure of the average kinetic energy of the atoms, molecules or particles of a substance.
It depends on the number of particles in an object. If particles are more, the heat energy will be more. It is an average measurement so it does not depend on the number of particles in an object.
It travels from hotter region to cooler region. Hotter objects lose heat and colder objects gain heat. The temperature of an object rises when it is heated and falls when it gets cold.
Heat has the ability to work. Temperature is used to measure the extent of heat.
The standard unit to measure heat is joule (J). The standard units to measure temperature are Kelvin, Celsius and Fahrenheit.
It is measured by the calorimeter. It is measured by the thermometer.
It is represented by "Q". It is represented by "T".
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