If you are the new owner of a heat pump system, you may not know the difference between the auxiliary heat and emergency heat settings. When is the right time to use emergency heat? It depends on your specific system. However, we would like to help you with this confusing setting.

How Heat Pumps Work

Before discussing the emergency heat setting, we would like to briefly remind you how these heating systems work.

A heat pump doesn’t create heat or cold air (like a furnace does). Instead, it moves heat from one place to another. For example, during the winter, a heat pump absorbs heat energy from the outside air and transfers it inside. However, during hot weather, the unit absorbs heat from the indoor unit and releases it through the outdoor unit.

Advantages of a Heat Pump

You may have selected your new heating system because it offered the following benefits:

  • Low running cost
  • Few maintenance issues
  • Long life spans
  • Quiet operation
  • Eco-friendly

However, one disadvantage of a heat pump system is that you may have to have a backup heating source, depending on your climate, the efficiency of your home, and the type of heat pump you purchase. Backup systems may include a backup gas furnace, oil furnace, or boiler system.

Please note that some heat pumps are designed to operate independently without using backup heating. Therefore, it’s crucial you understand what kind of HVAC system you have so you know what to do in an emergency.

What’s the difference between Aux Heat and Em Heat?

The difference between “aux heat” and “em heat” is that aux heat (auxiliary heating) is an automated function that turns on when the outdoor temperature plummets. The aux heat will kick in when the heat pump functions but has difficulty reaching the thermostat setting.

When auxiliary heat is activated, your heat pump energizes a heat strip within its system, which gives an added boost.

heat pump emergency heat setting guide 600x400 - Heat vs. Emergency Heat: About Heat Pump Emergency Heating Settings

However, there may not be any heat in the ambient air to extract during extremely cold weather. Therefore, continuing to run your heat pump in these conditions can cause damage to the system. You may need to shut off the system to protect it, but you will be left with no heat in your home.

This is when you turn on “EM heat.” When this happens, your heat pump shuts off, and the radiation heat strips in your system are activated. This allows you to continue to receive heat without the risk of damaging your outdoor system. However, this operation requires a considerable amount of energy. Therefore, only turn on the emergency system when you truly need it.

Contact HOP Energy for Assistance

Have you activated your emergency heat mode? If so, call your local HVAC repair company affiliated with HOP Energy. Running your heating system in emergency heat mode may have been necessary, but you would not want to run your system on this setting for long.

Do you have questions about your HVAC system? (Such as “When should I activate the emergency heat setting on my heat pump?”) If so, contact your friends at HOP Energy.

Contact us today