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When Should You Use the Emergency Heat on Your Heat Pump System?

heat pump thermostat

Have you ever noticed the emergency heat setting on your thermostat? Many people are confused by that little switch and do not understand its purpose. Unfortunately, they assume that their heat pump system does not work in cold weather and think the emergency heat switch is the answer. Simply put, they are wrong.

What is Emergency Heat?

Heat pumps installed in climates where the temperature drops below 35 degrees Fahrenheit require a supplemental heating source. This source may be an electric, gas, or hot water system. Often referred to as supplemental heat, this source may also be called back up or second stage heating. In this case, primary or first stage heat is provided by the heat pump only. Emergency heat refers to when the heat pump is not able to keep up with the heating demands and your secondary heat source has to turn on.   Depending on your heating system, your supplemental heat source will assist the heat pump at different times. This occurs automatically and may or may not require you to make any changes to your thermostat.

When Should You Use Emergency Heat?

Emergency heat should only be used in emergency situation. This would be when your heat pump is not functioning properly, not functioning at all or during extreme weather conditions. Generally, it is more expensive to run emergency heat. Often this is why a heat pump was installed to begin with. Of course, circumstances vary. If you're emergency heat source is gas then the expense would depend on your price of fuel.

What Happens When You Switch to Emergency Heat?

When switched to emergency heat, a red indicator light will go on. It stays lit until emergency heat is turned off. Typically during emergency mode, only the indoor unit and supplemental heat source will run and your outdoor heat pump unit will not function.

When installing a heat pump, make sure that you are in a region where the weather does not fall under 35 degrees regularly to prevent having to use your emergency heating. If you have questions about your heat pump thermostat and want to learn more about how they work contact us. Our staff is happy to help and ready to assist with all your HVAC needs.

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