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What Is EmHeat On My Thermostat? And When Do I Use It?



The EM or Emergency Heat switch on a thermostat confuses many people. Most people don't seem to understand exactly what Emergency Heat is and when they would or need to use it.

What is Emergency Heat? And why does a heat pump have two kinds of heat?

All Heat Pumps need a supplemental heating source and usually it is in the form of electric heating strips inside of the air handler. The supplemental heat is also referred to as “second stage” or “back-up” heating, with “first-stage” being the Heat Pump only. Emergency Heat is when you use your supplemental heat (2nd stage) by itself, without the use of your heat pump (1st stage heat).

The timing of this 2nd stage of heat will vary with different systems and thermostats, but that it is always done automatically to assist the heat pump. The two stages will work together in the colder months, and it is not necessary to switch your thermostat to Emergency Heat During normal operation. So now we know that Emergency Heat is basically when you use your supplemental heat by itself.


What does Emergency Heat do?

When switching to Emergency Heat on your thermostat, the indicator light will go on. And it will stay on until you stop using the Emergency Heat. This just lets you know you are in emergency mode. On a call for emergency heat, no signal will be sent to the outdoor Heat Pump. Only the air handler inside and the back-up heat strips will run. This will provide enough heat to keep you going until the Heat Pump can be fixed.


When should I use Emergency Heat?

As the name indicates, it is only used in emergency situations. It is used when there is something wrong with first-stage heating (the Heat Pump itself). In other words, if you notice your house is cold and it isn't heating properly and you went outside and noticed that a tree fell and crushed your heat pump, that would be a good time to switch to Emergency Heat.

Or if your Heat Pump turned into a block of ice due to a malfunction. At that point, it isn't capable of providing any heat. So you would turn the thermostat to Emergency Heat and call Dayton Heating and Air for service.


Is Emergency Heat more expensive to run?

YES! It is much more expensive to run your heat pump on Emergency Heat. And as the name implies, should only be run in an emergency until your heat pump can be repaired.

We hope this information helps you better understand emergency heat, but If you have any questions or concerns your HVAC system should be inspected and repaired by a licensed and experienced company such as Dayton Heating and Air.


We hope this information helps you better understand emergency heat, but If you have any questions or concerns your HVAC system should be inspected and repaired by a licensed and experienced company such as Dayton Heating and Air.

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