What’s the Difference Between Auxiliary and Emergency Heat?

When it comes to maintaining comfort in your home during the colder months, you may come across terms like “auxiliary heat” and “emergency heat” on your thermostat. These can be confusing, especially if you’re not familiar with how your heating system works. Understanding the difference between auxiliary heat and emergency heat is essential for using your system efficiently. It can also save you from unexpected calls to heating companies for issues that might have been avoided with some know-how.

Auxiliary and Emergency Heat

In this post, Stone Heating and Air discusses the difference between auxiliary heat and emergency heat.

Auxiliary Heat: The Helping Hand

Auxiliary heat is a feature that activates automatically when the heat pump cannot maintain the home’s set temperature on its own. This usually happens in extremely cold outdoor temperatures, where the heat pump struggles to extract sufficient warmth from the outside air. In these cases, auxiliary heat provides supplementary heat to ensure your home stays comfortable.

In most cases, auxiliary heat makes use of electric resistance heating coils, which serve as a secondary heat source. When your thermostat detects a significant difference between the desired indoor temperature and the current temperature — typically around 1.5 to 2 degrees — it will activate these coils. This additional heat will continue to warm your home until the temperature reaches closer to what’s been set on the thermostat. Then, the system will revert to using primarily the heat pump.

Emergency Heat: The Backup Plan

Emergency heat, on the other hand, is reserved for emergencies. It’s a manual setting on your thermostat meant to take over heating duties when the heat pump is not functioning correctly. It could be due to the heat pump freezing up or a mechanical failure. In such cases, you should engage the emergency setting to activate the backup heat source and then contact a local heating and air conditioning contractor for assistance.

While running on emergency heat, your system will rely entirely on your secondary heat source, which can be more expensive to operate. It’s crucial to ensure your system is well-maintained to avoid the need for emergency heat.

Stone Heating and Air offers comprehensive maintenance services to keep your heating and air conditioning system in excellent condition. Call us at (541) 855-5521 or fill out our contact form to schedule a service appointment.

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