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What Is EM Heat and When Should I Use It?

Do you have a heat pump at home and have ever wondered about the EM Heat’ option on your thermostat? EM Heat stands for Emergency Heat, a setting you might need when your main heating system isn’t working correctly or needs a boost. In this guide, we’ll clarify the purpose of EM Heat compared to regular heating, helping you manage your home’s warmth more effectively. We’ll go over:

To help you understand the full scope of your EM heat setting and the system that supports it, we’ll expand on each of the points listed above.

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What Is EM Heat?

EM Heat, which stands for Emergency Heat,” is a backup heating option commonly found in heat pumps. This feature kicks in to support your heat pump if it struggles to maintain the temperature you’ve set on your thermostat, or it can temporarily take over if your heat pump is malfunctioning or not in operation. Its primary role is to ensure that your home remains warm and comfortable, even when there’s a hiccup in your primary heating system.

How Does EM Heat Work?

When your home’s heating setup includes the primary heat pump, usually located outside, and an internal secondary heat source. This secondary source could be powered by gas, oil, or electricity. You can manually activate this secondary system to operate on its own or set it to automatically assist your heat pump during extremely cold conditions below a certain temperature threshold. It can also activate when your heat pump is in a defrost cycle, ensuring a continuous heat supply.

Appropriate situations for using EM Heat

As the name describes, EM heat is designed to be used in emergencies. This means it can act as a temporary replacement when your heat pump is out of commission or help your heat pump meet your thermostat settings when necessary.

Extremely Cold Weather

Due to the process heat pumps use to warm your home and the fact that they are generally installed outside, extreme outdoor temperatures can reduce your unit’s ability to maintain the interior temperature you want. When this happens, if you’ve established your automatic settings, your secondary heat source will kick on to help the heat pump do its job.

Heat Pump Malfunction

If your heat pump breaks down, the secondary source ensures you don’t have to go without heat while waiting for repairs. Triggering it manually shuts your heat pump off, so you rely entirely on the alternative until you can get it working again. It’s important to shut your heat pump off when there’s an issue so any damage doesn’t progress and other components don’t wear down unnecessarily trying to make up the deficit.

Defrosting Periods

Sometimes, your heat pump coils will collect frost and need to defrost itself. When this happens, the pump will shut itself off, and your secondary heat source will take over automatically. Once the coils have been cleared, the pump will restart, shutting down the secondary heat source and working on its own again.

Tips for Efficient Use of EM Heat

EM heat requires significantly more energy than what’s generated through your heat pump, so the best way to keep costs down is to reserve it for actual emergencies. The automatic triggers for your secondary heat system largely take care of themselves, but you can make some adjustments to maximize efficiency.

If you have some wiggle room on your thermostat setting, dropping the set temperature slightly on extremely cold days may reduce reliance on your secondary source. In case you have to switch to EM heat manually for a malfunctioning pump, make sure to address repairs quickly. Also, keep up with pump maintenance to lower the chance of a breakdown.

Call Cooper for all of your heating needs!

Give us a call today if your furnace is struggling to heat your home, and experience the service that has earned us thousands of 5‑star reviews from satisfied customers. In our more than 45 years in business, we’ve seen it all, so furnace and heat pump repairs are no problem.

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Luke Cooper