what is emergency heat

As a homeowner, understanding various heating solutions can significantly boost your comfort and home’s efficiency during the colder months. One critical feature in modern home heating systems, especially those equipped with heat pumps, is emergency heat. Often referred to simply as “emergency heat,” this system plays a pivotal role in maintaining warmth when the primary heating method falls short due to extreme weather conditions or mechanical failures.

Emergency heat should be perceived as a safeguard, designed to be utilized only during significant heating system failures, not as an alternative to the regular heating setup. The activation of emergency heat ensures that your home remains warm until the primary system can be restored. Due to its less efficient operation compared to standard heating methods, reliance on emergency heat for prolonged periods could lead to higher energy expenditures and put unnecessary strain on the backup system.

This guide delves into the functionality and appropriate use of emergency heat, providing insights that help homeowners navigate its use wisely and effectively.

Key Takeaways

  • Emergency heat serves as a secondary heating system, activated only when the primary system fails.
  • It is integral to homes with heat pumps, ensuring warmth during extreme cold when heat pumps may underperform.
  • Optimal use of emergency heat is in true heating emergencies, not as a routine heat source.
  • While effective, using emergency heat continuously can lead to increased energy costs and wear on the system.
  • Understanding when and how to appropriately use emergency heat can enhance a homeowner’s approach to efficient heating.

Understanding the ‘EM Heat’ Setting on Your Thermostat

In homes equipped with a heat pump, understanding the thermostat setting, especially the ‘EM heat’ option, is crucial for efficient home heating management. The ‘EM heat’ setting on a thermostat plays a vital role in controlling the deployment of your system’s emergency heat. This feature becomes particularly important when the primary heat pump cannot sufficiently warm your home during extreme weather conditions.

Typically, a heat pump functions adequately within a certain temperature range. However, when temperatures plummet to unexpected lows, the heat pump may struggle to extract adequate heat from the outside air. This is where the ‘EM heat’ setting kicks in, activating the secondary heating source. This secondary source could be powered by gas, electricity, oil, or hot water, ensuring that warmth continues to circulate throughout your home without interruption.

How does emergency heat work?

When you switch to ‘EM heat’ on your thermostat, you’re essentially bypassing the heat pump’s regular operations. Instead of the heat pump laboring to pull heat from the chilly outdoor air, the system activates the secondary heating source. This immediate supplementary heat ensures your home remains comfortable despite the failing temperatures outside. It’s important to note that ‘EM heat’ should be used sparingly; primarily only when there is a clear failure of the heat pump or when the temperature is too low for the pump to operate effectively.

Feature Function
Heat Pump Extracts heat from the outside air to warm the house, efficient in mild to moderately cold temperatures.
Secondary Heating Source Provides additional heat when outdoor temperatures are too low for the heat pump to function effectively.
Thermostat ‘EM Heat’ Setting Activates the secondary heating source manually when the heat pump fails or is insufficient.

This adjustment in the heating strategy not only ensures effectiveness but also plays a critical role in the longevity and efficiency of your heating system. Utilizing the emergency heat setting correctly can significantly help in maintaining a comfortable indoor climate while optimizing energy use and reducing unnecessary strain on the heat pump. Always consult your system’s manual or a professional to better understand the specifics of your secondary heating source and the optimal usage conditions for ‘EM heat’.

What is Emergency Heat: When and How to Use It

Emergency heat is essential in maintaining home warmth, especially during heating emergencies. Understanding its application and operational methods ensures efficient management of home temperature while conserving the system’s integrity.

The Role of Emergency Heat in Maintaining Home Warmth

The primary role of emergency heat is to provide a reliable source of warmth when your main heating system underperforms or fails. Situations may arise, such as extreme cold snaps, where the conventional heating unit cannot draw sufficient warmth from the external environment. Here, emergency heat steps in to maintain comfort and safety within the home.

Identifying True Heating Emergencies for System Activation

Identifying when to activate emergency heat is crucial; it should only be used in genuine heating emergencies. These scenarios include a malfunction of the heat pump, such as when it is frozen over or fails to function efficiently. In these cases, Manual Activation should be considered to provide immediate relief while awaiting repair services.

Manual Activation vs. Automatic Response of Backup Heat

Homeowners often wonder about choosing between manual activation and relying on the system’s automatic response. Manual activation requires intervention when immediate heating is necessary. In contrast, automatic systems are designed to detect specific conditions and activate when needed, simplifying the process and reducing the risk of damage by avoiding overuse.

Feature Manual Activation Automatic Response
User Input Required Yes, immediate decision by the homeowner No, system operates based on pre-set parameters
Response Time Immediate, based on user action Depends on system sensitivity and preset thresholds
Best Used When Immediate warmth is needed in emergency situations Heat pump failure or insufficient heating capability is detected

emergency heat activation

Financial and Functional Implications of Using Emergency Heat

Utilizing the emergency heat setting in your home carries substantial financial and functional implications. A major consideration is the elevated cost that can accrue when relying on this system. Given the less efficient nature of backup heating systems, employing emergency heat for extended durations can escalate your energy expenses significantly. It’s imperative to activate this system only during genuine heating crises, ensuring the primary heating setup is restored swiftly to sidestep undue financial strain.

From a functional perspective, the continuous use of emergency heat can have detrimental effects on the backup heating system. These systems are not designed to operate as the primary heat source, and overuse may result in premature wear and tear, which could drastically reduce the system’s lifespan. The extra demand placed on your backup heating system can lead to more frequent breakdowns and the necessity for more regular maintenance, compounding the already high costs of its operation.

To mitigate these issues, homeowners are encouraged to conduct regular maintenance and timely repairs of their primary heating systems. This proactive approach not only helps prevent the overreliance on emergency heat but also promotes energy efficiency and system longevity. Keeping your main heating system in optimal working condition ensures that the use of emergency heat is reserved strictly for actual emergencies, thereby controlling both its financial implications and functional ramifications.


What is emergency heat?

Emergency heat is a secondary heating system that serves as a backup when the primary heat source fails. It is commonly used in homes with heat pumps to maintain warmth during extremely low temperatures.

How does emergency heat work?

The ‘EM heat’ setting on a thermostat controls the activation of the emergency heat system. This setting is typically used in conjunction with a heat pump system, where the heat pump serves as the primary heat source and the emergency heat acts as the secondary or backup heat source.

What is the purpose of emergency heat?

Emergency heat plays a crucial role in maintaining home warmth during heating emergencies. It ensures that your home remains comfortable even when the primary heat source is not functioning properly.

When should I activate the emergency heat system?

Heating emergencies can include situations where the heat pump is broken or frozen, or when the primary heating system is unable to adequately heat the home. In such cases, activating the emergency heat system can provide temporary heating until the main system is repaired.

Can I activate the emergency heat system manually?

Yes, the emergency heat system can be set to activate automatically based on preset thresholds or manually by the homeowner. However, manual activation should only be done in true emergencies and not as a substitute for the primary heating system.

What are the financial implications of using emergency heat?

Using emergency heat for extended periods can result in significantly higher energy bills due to the less efficient nature of backup heating systems compared to the primary heat source. It is important to use emergency heat only in true emergencies and to get the primary heating system repaired as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary financial burden.

What are the functional implications of using emergency heat?

Relying on emergency heat for extended periods can put strain on the backup heating system, as it is not designed to be the primary source of heat. This can lead to increased wear and tear on the system and potentially shorten its lifespan. Regular maintenance and timely repairs of the primary heating system are essential to avoid prolonged use of emergency heat.

Source Links

Post Author: Rae Schwan