Emergency Heat and How to Use It

If your home has a heat pump system, odds are you've seen the emergency heat setting on your thermostat. While it may sound a bit scary, it's there to help you when you need it most. But do we know how to use it? When to use it? Should it only be turned on only when it gets really, really cold? How much will it cost you to use? How long can it run?

If you have ever pondered these same questions, you're certainly not alone. Understanding your home's heating system is a great way to not only keep energy costs low but ensures you're prepared during times of uncertainty. The heating experts at Bradley Mechanical are prepared to help answer all of your heating questions!

What are Heat Pumps?

Heat pumps are an essential part of many HVAC systems. They are responsible for both the heating and cooling process in your home. In the winter, even when it is cold outside, your heat pump can source sufficient ambient heat from the outside air and transfer it into your home. During the colder months, your heat pump uses a mixture of water and anti-freeze to pump through the ground loop, absorbing the naturally occurring heat stored in the ground. That water mixture is then compressed and processed within the heat exchanger. Heat pumps are a popular choice in homes, especially in milder climates, due to their energy efficiency.

Aren't sure what type of heating system your home uses? Reach out to us today for a complete home inspection and maintenance check.

What is Emergency Heat?

All heat pumps need a supplemental heating source, especially when it is too cold to draw heat from the outside air. The supplemental heat can also be known as "backup" or "second stage" heating, with your heat pump being the "first stage." When temperatures drop below 40 degrees outside, your heat pump struggles to extract heat from the air. In this case, the heat pump uses a strip of electric heat coils to help warm the air. Setting your thermostat to emergency heat shuts off the heat pump and uses only the backup heat coils to heat your home.

While handy in the case of emergencies, this setting uses a lot of electricity and often results in an expensive utility bill.

When Do You Use it?

As it is aptly named, "emergency heat" should only be used in emergency situations. It should also not be used all day and all night long. Using it for short periods of time is best. It is reserved for when the "first stage" heating fails, or there is something wrong with the heat pump itself. This could be due to a multitude of things and requires an expert eye to diagnose.

When the heat pump is no longer capable of providing heat and requires servicing, switch your thermostat to emergency heat and call your local technicians at Bradley Mechanical for support.

Should it Only Be Turned On When it's Really Cold?

In very few cases, yes, but in most cases, the simple answer is no. If you find yourself in a freezing cold situation where temperatures have dropped to the extremes, and you need your home heated quickly, you can use this setting. However, you should only turn the emergency heat on when the heat pump is not working at all to heat your home. If your heat pump is working as intended, there should be no need to rely on emergency heating. Running your heat pump on emergency heat is less efficient and can be very costly.

Don't suffer in the cold this winter. If you find yourself bundling up indoors because of a failing heat pump, the emergency heat setting is there for this exact scenario. Once on, give Bradley Mechanical a call. We provide heat pump repairs, maintenance and new installation on all types of heat pumps. Our heat pump technicians are certified and trained professionals who have over 50 years of collective experience working on heat pumps and HVAC systems. We will work fast and efficiently to troubleshoot your problem, diagnose the issue and determine the best course of action to get your heating system back online.

And if you're experiencing an emergency and need assistance or repairs right away, don't hesitate to reach out to us via our emergency hotline. Our certified technicians are on call and prepared to keep you and your family comfortable this winter.

Contact our emergency line for immediate assistance.

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