If you look closely at your HVAC system, you may discover an emergency setting and be curious as to what it does. You might even question whether you should test it out, but before you do, you need to understand what it does and when it should be used. Now how long can you run emergency heat?
The emergency heat setting is one of the settings in your HVAC system, and it has a very distinct function. The emergency mode is not for when you’re feeling chilly; instead, it’s meant to safeguard you from deadly cold temperatures.
What Do You Mean By Heat Pump?
A heat pump is a device that warms your house by pulling heat from the outdoors and cools it by expelling heat to the outside. Heat pumps are unable to produce heat or cold air on their own. They rely on thermal conduction for warmth and cooling.
A heat pump uses electricity and refrigerant to maintain a pleasant home temperature. Refrigerant moves back and forth between an indoor unit (air handler) and a heat pump compressor (outdoor unit) in order to transfer heat from one location to another.
Heat pumps are fantastic for saving money and energy if you reside in a location with milder temperatures. However, when temperatures drop too low and emergency heat is required, you should always have a backup heating source.
What Is Emergency Heat On Your Thermostat?
When the temperature drops too low, your heat pump isn’t able to gather enough warmth from the outdoor air to heat your home to the set temperature. To keep you warm, a backup heating source, such as emergency heat, can be utilized.
If your heat pump needs to be shut down, you can use the emergency heat setting instead of turning it off. It’s also effective in heating your house in temperatures as low as freezing.
Your thermostat’s “em heat” setting indicates that your emergency heater has been turned on. The emergency heat function will continue to operate until you manually turn it off.
How Does Emergency Heat Work?
When emergency heat is activated, your compressor and heat pump shut down completely and your system’s electric heat strips will be active. This allows for the entry of heat without affecting your outdoor heat pump system.
In most cases, emergency heat is electric, although it can also be provided by a natural gas or oil furnace. When you turn on your thermostat’s emergency heat setting, your system bypasses the heat pump and directly connects to either the electric heating strip or the gas or oil boiler. Your air handler becomes an electric furnace for electrical systems.
If the temperature outside gets to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or above and your home won’t stay warm without utilizing emergency heat, call your local HVAC service professional. Your heat pump could have frozen over or required repairs. Before the winter weather returns and you’re stranded without adequate heating, we recommend getting your heat pump serviced as soon as possible.
How Long Can You Run Emergency Heat?
In harsh climates, emergency heat might be your only option to keep your home warm during the winter season— perhaps you experience winters that range from 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit with a few super-cold 0 degree Fahrenheit days every year or two.
Your heat pump may not be able to keep your home at a comfortable, warm temperature in this situation, which would necessitate additional heating or “emergency heat.”
While you may continue to run emergency heat as long as you need, it is very costly. As a result, you should use emergency heat only when absolutely necessary and only in the sense that it is an emergency heater.
When Should You Use Emergency Heat?
Only in the event of an emergency, such as a heat pump breaking down or icing on the pipes, should you use forced air.
If a snow-heavy branch breaks and smashes into your heat pump, use emergency heat until repairs are completed. If your heat pump develops a fault during an ice storm, turn on the emergency heater. Then contact an HVAC service provider to repair your equipment and return it to operating condition.
It’s not recommended that you use emergency heat for lengthy durations. Using emergency heat can be harmful to your heating system. Your primary heating response is removed from the equation, leaving just your secondary heating response to cope with the strain. This puts a tremendous amount of stress on your backup heater element.
For all-electric homes, emergency heat will keep you warm until the heat pump can be fixed or the temperature drops. To avoid having your energy bill go up after your system has been repaired, turn off emergency heat. The best thing about a gas and oil boiler is that it can run in emergency heat mode for long periods of time without causing too much strain on your heating system.
Why You Should Not Use Emergency Heat
There are a number of reasons why you should avoid using emergency heat on a regular basis. The following are some of the most common reasons why you should not adjust your thermostat to emergency heat:
Hard On Your System
Emergency heat, in addition to costing you money on your energy bills, puts a strain on your system. This mode has the backup element taking center stage rather than the heat pump.
The electric heating element is only meant for extreme circumstances and short durations of time. Using it too often can result in malfunctions.
Increased Energy Bills
The expense of frequently heating your home with emergency heat is far greater than the cost of running a conventional heat pump. The electric heat strip that the emergency heat system utilizes is significantly less efficient, resulting in an increase in your power consumption.
How Much More Expensive Is Emergency Heat?
If you relied on emergency heat rather than your heat pump to battle cold temperatures, your electric bill would go up dramatically.
For instance, if you used your typical heat pump in 30-degree weather for 12 hours a day, seven days in a row, for $0.13 per kWh over the course of the week, it would cost $32.76 per week.
At the same energy cost, but at a lower temperature of 10 degrees, consider utilizing your emergency heat for the same period as well.
On the bright side, if you have a generator and haven’t rotated it in years, having an emergency heat source can save you money. In this case, though, it will cost approximately $150 every night to power your home with emergency heat for one week.