I've heard that emergency heat is expensive and causes high heating bills. What can I do to avoid paying too much?

Your heat pump works by pulling heat from the air outside your home. The colder the temperature is, the more difficult it is for your heat pump to keep up.

Emergency heat uses strips of electric heating coils. Heat strips are wire elements in your unit that are heated by electricity, which in turn heat the air that flows over them. Strip heat is not nearly as energy efficient as your heat pump's normal function and requires much more energy.

Why use emergency heat?

Emergency heat is only used as an auxiliary heating source – if the unit is not able to convert the outside air quickly or efficiently enough. Heat strips do require much more energy, but your heat pump relies on them for certain tasks, such as defrosting your unit.

How can I avoid a high utility bill?

When the temps drop to 30 and below, your system will switch to emergency heat to keep up with the temperature your set. So don't adjust your thermostat erratically. To raise the temperature, gradually move up one degree at a time. This will keep the emergency heat from turning on.

Keep your thermostat at 68 degrees in the winter. Each degree you heat your home above 68 can add as much as four percent to your utility bill.

So what causes those insane heating bills I hear about?

I tell my customers it doesn't hurt to run in emergency heat for a couple days to a week. That's what it's there for. The problem with emergency heat is when your system is only running on emergency heat for some time. That indicates a problem with your heat pump. It's only a short term fix until you can have your system repaired. When your system runs on emergency heat for weeks on end, you get that shocking utility bill. So don't wait. Call and schedule your service call, and get the issue repaired.


Source: your friendly HVAC contractor, Jaunsee Terrell