What Is Emergency Heat?

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What is Emergency Heat? All regular thermostats have an additional setting that is referred to as “EM heat.” But what exactly is it? Many people believe that this is a setting you can use to activate during cold temperatures.

This isn’t the case. “EM” stands for an emergency, and this second heating system acts as a backup to keep your home warm if your primary heating does not work. You don’t want to switch it on without understanding precisely what you’re doing.

Whatever the situation, it is essential to know the settings of your appliances before you play with them. We’ve developed this guide for EM Heat so you are aware of the best method to utilize a heat pump at home.

What is Emergency Heat?

What exactly is EM heating for thermostats? It is short for “emergency heat,” it is a setting to control the heating system used to back up your home. When using an emergency thermostat, you most likely have a heat pump and oil, gas-electric, hot water, or electric backup system.

The majority of systems utilize the heat pump as their primary setting. It will also turn on its secondary (gas oil, electric) heating whenever additional heating, or second-stage, is needed. In cooler temperatures (below 35°F), All heat pumps require a second heating source as your heater draws heat from the setting when outside temperatures fall too low.

But, if you turn on your EM heating manually, you start drawing heat exclusively from the second source. In contrast, instead of working with your primary heat pump, your backup system is operating independently. This is a lot less efficient than the primary heating system, and it should only be used only in emergencies unless you are willing to pay for expensive heating costs.

What is a Heat Pump?

A HEAT PUMP heats your home because it draws out heat from the outside. However, it can also cool down your house by exchanging heat from outside. The heat pump cannot generate warm or cold air by itself. They transfer coolness and warmth from one location to the next.

The heat pumps use refrigerant and electricity to provide the perfect temperature in your home. The refrigerant transfers heat from one area to another through a flow inside the unit (air handler) to the heat pump’s compressor (outdoor appliance).

If you reside in a region with warmer temperatures, they are great for saving both energy and money. But, it’s essential to have a backup source of heating in case temperatures fall to a point where emergency heating becomes necessary.

What is the emergency heat setting for your thermostat?

If the weather is freezing and colder, your heating pump won’t be able to draw enough heat from the outdoors to warm your house to the temperature you want. Another heating source, such as emergency heat, is a great option to keep warm.

The emergency heat setting is utilized to help your heater take an emergency brake to avoid damage. Additionally, it is effective for warming your home during temperatures below freezing.

Its “em heat” setting on your thermostat signifies that it is activated. Emergency heat will continue to operate until you shut it off.

How do emergency heaters work?

When emergency heating is turned on, your heat pump stops entirely and activates the system’s electrical heat strips. The heat is absorbed without causing damage to the outdoor heat pump system.

what is emergency heat

In most cases, the emergency heat is electric, but it is also able to operate on petroleum or natural gas. If you set the emergency temperature manually on your thermostat, it does away with the heat pump and connects either to your electric heat strip or the oil or gas furnace. In the case of electric systems, your air handler converts into an electric furnace.

If the temperature outside rises to 40 ° or higher and your home cannot stay warm without the use of emergency heating, contact the local service provider for HVAC. The heat pump could have frozen or required repairs. We suggest getting your heater fixed as quickly as possible before winter arrives and leaves you without heating.

When is it appropriate to make use of emergency heating

Emergency heating is only recommended in an emergency, such as breaking down or icing over your heating system.

For instance, if the branch is snared by snow and smashes into the heat source, turn on emergency heating while waiting for repairs. If your heating system cuts out amid a snowstorm, do not hesitate and switch on your emergency heating.

The emergency heat shouldn’t be used for extended durations of time. The emergency heat could be straining the heating unit. When you remove the heat pump from it, your heating system relies on the primary heating system’s response. This puts a great deal of stress on your backup’s heating element.

For all-electric systems, emergency heating should ensure that you are warm till the heat pump is repaired or is thawed. When your system has been improved, switch off your emergency heating to reduce the heating rates on your electricity bill. The second stage of oil and gas furnace systems can remain longer in emergency heat modes without stress on your heating system.

Em heat vs aux heat

Two functions appear on your thermostat, But what’s different between “aux heat” and “em heat”? The answer is in the weather conditions and the heat pump’s state.

Auxiliary heating is a computerized feature that activates when the temperature outside takes the plunge. Aux heating kicks in whenever the heating system operates, but there’s a gap (typically two to three degrees) between the thermostat settings and the actual temperature. This type of heating generally lasts for an hour. When the auxiliary heat is turned on, it causes your heat pump to activate the heat strip in its system to give it an extra heating boost. If your heating device stops working, the auxiliary heating also ceases to function.

Emergency heating needs a manually operated switch and might require several hours or even days under the repair schedule. This heating source will not work with your heat pump. As the name implies, this feature should only be utilized in an emergency, and your heating system must be turned off.

It’s a good thing; however, the emergency heat setting can significantly increase your electric bill. This kind of heating requires lots of power and energy and can cost you more than you would if the heat pump was operating well.

How does a heating system work, and why it’s important

It is an air conditioner that can reverse its operation to warm your home. It transfers heat from one area to the other. It is especially effective in winter. Transfers heat from the outside of your home to the inside.

However, when temperatures drop below 40 degrees outside, your heating system cannot draw warmth from the outside to meet the temperature requirements you set on your thermostat.

To make up for the colder weather, your heating system starts by using a backup heat source to help with its heating efforts. The majority of heat pumps utilize electrical heat coils (like those found in a toaster) to provide an alternative.

However, these coils consume a lot of electricity. That’s a lot of energy for you.

Emergency heat is the use of the electric heating strip continuously.

When you set off your thermostat and switch to an emergency, the heating system will stop trying to draw energy from outside to heat your home. Instead, it will only use the backup heat strip to heat your home.

The heating system has become an electrical furnace. They cost more than gas furnaces. In essence, you’re paying more to provide your home with similar amounts of energy.

It’s a bit confusing. Don’t set your thermostat on emergency heat if you need to.

Your heat pump will be running more frequently in the event of a cold winter outside. However, that’s not a problem when you consider the money you’d spend on the heat strip.


“Emergency heat” mode does not mean “Turn this on when it gets freezing outside.” “turn this on when your heat pump stops heating altogether.”

However, suppose your heater is not heating correctly. In that case, you should seek out a heating professional located in Northern California for help. Setting up gas furnaces as an alternative heating source could be necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the frequently asked questions related to the article what is emergency Heat:

Can emergency heat cause a fire?

Can Emergency Heat Cause a Fire? The emergency heat that functions safely should not trigger the possibility of a fire. It’s a great setting to prevent emergencies which affect the operation of heat pumps.

Can a heat pump heat a whole house?

A whole-house heating system can provide cooling and heating throughout your home and is a good option for people looking for an energy-efficient alternative.

Is it OK to use emergency heat?

Short answer The answer is no. The switch on emergency (or “em heat” because it’s cold outside will frantically increase your energy bills. Do not use the emergency heat option unless your heating system cannot heat your home thoroughly. If that occurs, you should contact a qualified repairer of your heat pump for assistance.

When should I turn on emergency heat?

It is utilized to fix problems in the first-stage heat (the Heating Pump is the unit itself). Also, when you notice that your home is cold and the heat isn’t working correctly, and you go outside and find an acacia tree that fell and damaged your heat pump, it’s the perfect moment to switch to emergency Heat.

How does emergency heat work?

OK, when you switch the thermostat on emergency, the heating system will stop trying to draw energy from outside to warm your home. Instead, it will only utilize the backup heat strip to warm your home. Thus, your heating system is now an electric furnace.

What is the difference between emergency heat and regular heat?

The heating system is automatically activated to allow you to heat your home faster if temperatures drop suddenly. The emergency heat setting needs to be manually turned on and is only to be used when temperatures are below 30 degrees.

Does emergency heat use more electricity?

Because emergency heat depends on the second level, heat sources can create a surge in the price of electricity.

Should I run my heat pump on emergency heat?

What is the best time to start your EM heating? The only time you should turn on emergency heating is in the event that your heating pump is damaged. It is also recommended to activate it for a short period until you have the heating unit fixed.14-Jan-2021

How much does it cost to run emergency heat?

Because emergency heat consumes a lot of energy because of its inability to use power efficiently, it will cost an astronomical $196.56 for the whole week.

Will emergency heat cost more?

Utilizing Emergency Heat could result in higher heating bills: Emergency heating is more costly than the traditional version, and you could be paying more for your energy bills if you require emergency heat. Use emergency heating for the shortest amount of duration you can.


What exactly is EM heating for thermostats? It is short for “emergency heat,” it is a setting to control the heating system used to back up your home. When using an emergency thermostat, you most likely have a heat pump and oil, gas-electric, hot water, or electric backup system.

The heat pumps use refrigerant and electricity to provide the perfect temperature in your home. The refrigerant transfers heat from one area to another through a flow inside the unit (air handler) to the heat pump’s compressor (outdoor appliance).

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Shahzaib Burfat

Quote: "Never back out, Never lose hope, because losing is worth all the winning"
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