What is Auxiliary Heat Explained

What is Auxiliary Heat: Everything You Need to Know

During cold seasons, it is crucial to ensure your home heating system is working correctly. To be safe, you need to check the heating system before night since the weather gets chilly. The most common problem related to the heating systems is the heaters staying on the auxiliary heat.

In many cases, heaters staying on auxiliary heat is not a problem when the temperatures are relatively low. However, when the temperature gets warmer, and the auxiliary heat remains on, and it becomes a significant problem at home. At this point, you need to call in a professional who will help you solve the problem.

Note that the heat pump works extra hard to keep your house warm. Different than a furnace, a heat pump does not make its heat since it takes its heat from the outdoors.  The issue arises when the temperatures drop below the freezing point (32 degrees). This means that there is not enough heat in the surrounding air.

The heat pump switches to a special kind of heat known as auxiliary heat. You may be wondering what is auxiliary heat, what it means, and what it refers to. For comprehensive information on this, read on! Anytime you talk about auxiliary heat, you need to have a basic understanding of the heat pump. Let’s get to business and get a detailed understanding of the heat pump.

The Basics of the Heat Pump

To better comprehend auxiliary heat, you need to have a detailed understanding of the electric resistance heat strip. When the climate condition is moderate and requires a reliable heating solution, the heat pump becomes the most efficient and reliable option available. The pump uses electricity to transition the heat from one place to another until the house becomes warm. 

When the house is too hot and uncomfortable, the heat pump eliminates the hot air outside and absorbs cold air from the outdoors. When the weather is freezing (winter), the heat pump reverses this process by eliminating cold air outside and moderating the room’s temperatures. This is a clear indication that the heat pump does not generate any form of heat itself.

How Does a Heat Pump Work?

The heat pump works through heat transfer and heat absorption. Heat transfer is the cheapest and efficient mode of heating. When the pump cannot attain the heat level of heat required, it taps into its backup plan, the auxiliary heat. It varies from one homeowner to another. Some people use their auxiliary source as electrical resistance heating. This constitutes massive wire heating elements that are heated by electricity.

Sometimes, you might realize that your heat pump auxiliary heat is a gas furnace. However, the most common heat pumps on the market have this heat in electric resistance. Remember that auxiliary heat is fast and dependable, although it is expensive compared to the heat transfer form of heating.

Electric resistance heating is 50% more expensive than heat transfer heating. This is because electric resistance transfer consumes a lot of electricity, thus increasing energy bills. Sometimes you might realize that your heat pump cannot heat your home via heat transfer; hence, you will have to switch your pump to auxiliary heat.

It is recommended to switch your heat pump to the auxiliary mode when:

The Thermostat Calls For Temperature Increase

Most of the heat pumps of the market are designed in a manner that they can switch to auxiliary heat automatically. This mostly happens when the temperature is 3 degrees colder compared to the thermostat setting.  When you wake up and realize the temperatures are low and decide to increase by more than 3 degrees, the system automatically switches to the auxiliary heat mode.

 When the Outside Temperature is Below 35 Degrees

When the outside temperature range falls below 35 degrees, a heat pump makes it hard to keep your home warm. Therefore, it will automatically switch the pump to auxiliary mode. The heat pump absorbs warmth from the outside air and spreads it inside your home. When the outdoor temperatures are too low, there is not enough heat to keep your home warm. 

Changing the Auxiliary Trigger Pointer

As said earlier, most heat pumps are designed to switch to auxiliary mode automatically when the temperature is 3 degrees colder than indicated on the thermostat setting. Note that the 3-degree pointer is programmed into the thermostat by the manufacturer. If you want your heat pump to switch to auxiliary heat when there is a 1-degree difference, you will need to hire a professional to set the temperature difference on the heat pump.

As you change the auxiliary trigger pointer, remember that the auxiliary heat mode consumes a lot more power than heat transfer. However, this heating mode warms your house within the shortest time possible. Also, you should note that it is not recommended to change the trigger pointer unless otherwise is stated.

Auxiliary Heat on a Thermostat

Most people tend to wonder what auxiliary heat features on the thermostat. The reality is that this is the primary indication of heat supply. The fundamental responsibility is to transfer or to pump heat. When the temperature range falls below 32 degrees, the auxiliary heat turns on automatically. This is mainly caused by;

  • Not Enough Heat is Entering the Heat Pump.

As mentioned above, the auxiliary heat only turns on automatically when the temperature goes below 32 degrees. This occurs because the heat pump detects that it cannot move heat outdoors to indoors. It makes the heat strip turn on to supply any extra heat required to warm the house.

  • Ice Might Have Accumulated On The Outside Part Of The Heat Pump.

This is one of the primary reasons why the auxiliary heat turns on automatically. When ice piles outside the heat pump, you need to unfreeze it for the system to work well. The simplest way to unfreeze is by turning the heat pump to the defrost mode on the heating system. This takes the warm air from the house and unfreezes the ice accumulating around the system.

However, this will enhance the movement of cold air from all vents of your home. Therefore, you need to bundle up before you think about the process of defrosting the ice accumulating on the system. 

When Should You Be Concerned About Auxiliary Heat?

What is Auxiliary Heat

When the temperature in the outside environment begins to warm up and the auxiliary heat is still on, then there is a problem. At this point, you need to call in a certified professional to help you sort out the problem. The heat pump relies on the use of electric resistance to heat and cool your home. Note that the inefficiency caused by the auxiliary heat is likely to result in skyrocketing electricity bills.

How To Prevent the Heat Pump From Using the Auxiliary Heat Function

As stated earlier, when the auxiliary heat function is on, it consumes a lot of energy, thus leading to increased electricity bills. Having a function of managing this situation is essential, especially when it comes to energy bills. The tips discussed below can help you to manage the auxiliary heat function.

Avoid the Use of Emergency Heat Setting

Most people do not comprehend the difference between emergency heat auxiliary heat and emergency heat. The difference between the two aspects is simple! When the heat pump breaks down and does not work as required, homeowners can easily switch to emergency heat mode. It will work by sidestepping the heat pump and relying entirely on the heat strip.

Auxiliary heat uses the heat strip and the heat pump to supplement heat loss and revive the condition. Always ensure that you use the emergency heat option as a temporary solution and not a lasting solution for your home. It would help if you got it fixed when you think that your heat pump is broken or has mechanical problems.  This will save you from spending extra money in the long run.

Increase the Temperature of Your Heat Pump Slowly.

If you have been on vacation or have not been home for a while, your home’s temperature at home might be cooler than average. When you go to turn on the thermostat, ensure you turn it up to two degrees. When you turn the temperature up quickly, the heat pump will do whatever it can to warm the house within the shortest time possible.

When you do this, the heat pump focuses on the use of heat strips. By turning up your thermostat gradually, you will easily manage this condition. 

Maintain a Temperature of 68 Degrees Fahrenheit

When the weather is freezing, it is good to keep your temperature setting at 68 degrees. It is crucial to note that every figure above 68 degrees can increase your electricity bill by 4%. When you maintain a lower temperature setting inside your home, your heat pump will not have to work extra hard. This also reduces the chances of using the heat strips.


Question: Does auxiliary heat use more electricity?

Answer: Auxiliary heat uses electric resistance to warm the house when the temperature is too low. This indicates that it consumes more energy when compared to heat transfer. When your heat pump gets stuck to auxiliary heat, always know that your electricity bill is also skyrocketing.

Question: Why does auxiliary heat blow cold air?

Answer: In most cases, the heat pumps blow cold air compared to electric and gas furnaces. This is mainly due to their design and model. They also use auxiliary heat strips at some point, especially when the outside temperature is frigid. When the heat strips malfunction, the heat pump is likely to blow cold air. To control this situation, the system requires high levels of refrigerant.

Question: Is auxiliary heat normal?

Answer: Auxiliary heat mode turns on when the heat pump cannot produce enough heat to warm your house. Note that the auxiliary heat is only normal when the outside temperature is below the freezing point. At this point, the thermostat always calls a temperature increase of about 3 degrees. 

Question: How do I know if my heat pump is working correctly?

Answer: The simplest way of identifying if your heat pump is working is to turn on the heat at the thermostat. Once you realize that hot air is coming through the vents across the house, go outside and check if the outdoor unit is working. Note that a heat pump is a form of air conditioner that generates heat during cold seasons.

Question: Is it advisable to leave your heat pump running throughout the day?

Answer: Leaving your heat pump running throughout the day is not advisable since you will incur significant electricity bills. You only need to power on the heat pump when you need it. When you are not at home, you can set the heat pump timer so that it can turn on some minutes before you come back.

Question: Is it reasonable to turn off the heat pump at night?

Answer: If you live in a house with poor ventilation, the temperatures will likely drop faster than usual. At this point, the heat pump will generate heat that will go to waste. All you have to do is power off the heat pump and have thick covers on your bed.

Question: How do I power off auxiliary heat on my thermostat?

Answer: The simplest way of ensuring that your thermostat does not switch to auxiliary heat is by lowering your home’s temperature. Also, you can set the thermostat to a temperature range between sixty and sixty-eight degrees. This will help you solve the problem without further struggles.

Question: How do you reset the heat pump?

Answer: Many people get it hard to reset their heat pumps. All you have to do is turn off the system with the break of the thermostat. Note that this is only relevant if your device has a safety device that locks it out. Wait for about one minute before you finally turn it on. At this moment, the outside unit might take about ten minutes before it starts running.

Final Verdict

Auxiliary heat is a common term whenever you talk about the heat pump or any other mechanism of heating your home during cold weather. The term revolves around a wide variety of aspects revolving around the functionality of the heat pump. This article incorporates tons of information that helps you manage auxiliary heat on your heat pump. With this comprehensive guide, you will be well-versed in incorporating auxiliary heat in your home.

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