Have you ever wondered what Auxiliary or Emergency Heat actually are?

If your home is using a heat pump you may have read the thermostat and noticed you were using the Auxiliary or Emergency heat mode. This is not abnormal and should not head warning, unless it doesn’t switch back to normal heat. The terms “Auxiliary Heat”, “Strip Heat”, “Emergency Heat” and “Radiant Heat” all reference the electric heat strips within your heat pump.

What is the difference?

Well, let’s explain a little more in detail. Auxiliary Mode is an indicator that electric heat strips are running to keep you from feeling any cool air through your vents. It is used as an intermediate heating source when the heat pump needs the chance to thaw out. It is also used as an assistant if the heat pump can’t keep up with indoor temperature setting due to overly frigid outdoor temperatures. The down side to Auxiliary Heat is that it is more costly. You can compare this source of heat to a space heater, because it uses the same coil heating mechanism. Auxiliary is often used during normal operation.

While Auxiliary Heat and Emergency Heat are essentially the same method of heating, they’re different settings on your thermostat. Emergency Heat is “back up” heat an is usually set manually. We are referring to an all-electric Heat Pump, but you may also be using a gas, oil, or hot-water back-up system as well.

If you notice that your thermostat has switched to Emergency Heat on it’s own, then you should call us for service immediately. This is an indication that your Heat Pump cannot perform it’s job properly and may be failing. If you know your heat pump is not working, it is best to switch to emergency heat manually so as not to destroy your unit, then call us for service as soon as possible.