If you heat your Glenwood Springs, Aspen, or Vail, CO home with a heat pump, you may notice a setting on the thermostat called auxiliary heat and wonder what in the heck that means. The name says it all as the auxiliary system provides additional heat when it’s needed.
A Quick Review
A heat pump is the MOST efficient form of electric heat because the electricity is NOT used to heat the air. Instead, it powers a compressor that squeezes heat out of the outside air and transfers it into your house. The drawback is heat pumps have a more difficult time producing heat as the outside air gets colder.
A couple decades ago heat pumps were generally not recommended for locations like Colorado, but rapid changes in technology mean they can keep most houses warm even when the outside temperature approaches zero. Most heat pump systems still come with some form of auxiliary heat to make sure your home stays warm when it gets really cold. The secondary heat source can be a gas furnace or an electrical heating element (think of it as a powerful space heater) that is installed as part of the system.
Here’s How it Works
When you see the “aux” heat indicator on your thermostat it means your heat pump needed some help reaching the desired temperature. It turns on automatically when the temperature falls about two degrees below the desired setting and turns off automatically when the target temperature is reached.
Less is More
When the auxiliary heat kicks in you are losing some of the inherent efficiency that makes heat pumps desirable. Your goal should be to use the secondary source only when necessary. If you have a heat pump and the house has cooled off, try to warm it up gradually. Turn the thermostat up just two degrees at a time to avoid using the auxiliary heat.
Auxiliary vs Emergency
Many heat pump systems will also have an emergency heat setting. Here’s the difference:
Auxiliary heat means the secondary system works in conjunction with the heat pump to supplement as needed.
Emergency heat is for just what it says, emergencies as in when the heat pump is totally disabled and requires HVAC maintenance. In those situations, the secondary source is providing all the heating. Any extended use of emergency heat will lead to very high monthly bills.
Maximize Your Heat Pump’s Efficiency
The best way to assure you receive all the advantages a heat pump has to offer and limit the use of auxiliary or emergency heat is to keep it in tip-top shape to assure maximum efficiency. Climate Control Company can do that with regular HVAC maintenance visits to your Glenwood Springs, Aspen, or Vail, CO home. To learn more about heat pumps and all forms of heating and cooling, be sure to like and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.