During the winter season, your thermostat ensures your heat pump generates enough heat to keep your house warm and cozy.
- Instead of generating heat with a burner flame, your heat pump extracts heat energy from the air outside.
Heat pumps concentrate this air and circulate it throughout your home. To maintain your desired indoor temperature settings, your heat pump may also switch between two settings during the winter season. The thermostat may switch your heat pump to auxiliary heat or emergency heat based on the outdoor temperature. When the outside temperature is cold – around 30 or 40 degrees Fahrenheit – your thermostat will activate auxiliary heat. When the temperature drops below freezing, your heat pump won’t be able to pull enough heat from the air in time. Auxiliary heat activates the heat strips in your indoor unit, which are your unit’s secondary heat source. Similar to auxiliary heat, emergency heat is also manually switched to this setting and then turned off the same way. This option is only applicable if your outdoor unit is incapable of generating heat due to a faulty component or a malfunctioning system. Either way, you’ll need to have it checked by a professional in heating and air conditioning repair because this setting makes the heat strips the sole source of your house’s heat while the rest of your heat pump is disabled. When temperatures drop, the automatic setting should be auxiliary heat. Your heat pump will only activate this if it cannot extract enough heat to keep the indoor temperature comfortable while minimizing demand on its secondary heating strips or electric heating coils. If emergency mode is activated, the heat pump function will not be used; your system will instead rely on its secondary heating strips/electric heating coils. Your utility bills will be higher because these consume more energy.