EDITOR'S NOTE: Energy Service Advisor Chris Denison has posted an update to this article. Read more »
A malfunctioning heat pump can cause excessive energy use, and you may not know it until you get your electric bill.
If you have a heat pump set to heat mode, make sure the outside compressor is operating when the indoor air handler is running. If the outside unit is not operating, the auxiliary resistance heat will automatically come on to heat your house; you won’t know the compressor is not operating because the house will be warm.
Everyone should be familiar with the Auxiliary Heat (Aux Ht) indicator on their thermostat. The auxiliary heat — which uses resistance heat strips located in the air handler to warm air — will automatically come on to compensate when the heat pump is not creating enough heat on its own. However, it’s a much less efficient way to heat your home, requiring two to three times more energy than a properly operating heat pump by itself.
The auxiliary heat is designed to operate when the indoor temperature is three degrees cooler than the thermostat setting. It generally operates when you raise the thermostat setting more than two degrees, which may be normal when you get up to a cold house in the morning or come home to a cold house in the evening. That is a good time to notice where your auxiliary indicator is and make sure that it goes off when the indoor temperature is within two degrees of your thermostat setting.
If you have a heat pump, it is best to increase your heat setting by only two degrees at a time to prevent your auxiliary heat from operating.
What steps have you taken to conserve energy this winter?
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