If you live in a cold climate, it's essential to understand how to keep your home warm.
To help you out, I've written this article on auxiliary heat and how to use it in your HVAC system.
It will explain how backup heat works and your options for adding extra warmth when it gets cold.
If a heat pump can't keep your home warm by itself, you need to consider adding auxiliary heat.
Heat pumps are not always able to do the job when it comes to keeping your home warm.
You will need backup heat if you live in a region that experiences long periods of sub-freezing temperatures and snow.
-This can be provided by adding auxiliary heat where it did not previously exist or by supplementing an existing system with additional capacity.
Heat pumps work best when humidity is low and temperatures are mild; they struggle when moisture levels increase, and outside temperatures drop below freezing.
When this happens, they may not provide enough warmth for comfort or safety at night.
In these situations, you may want to add auxiliary heating (like gas furnaces) so that you'll still be warm enough if you don't have enough power from your heat pump alone.
First, figure out if you have heat strips and what size they are.
If your thermostat has a heat strip setting:
- First, figure out if you have heat strips and what size they are.
- You can find this information by looking at the back of your wall thermostat or checking your owner's manual. Look for "heat strip" or "heat pump," and make a note of its rating in Btu/hr (British thermal units per hour) and watts.
For example, "2x20" means two 20-amp heat strips rated at 200 watts each; 1x100 would mean one 100-amp heat strip rated at 1,000 watts.
- If you're replacing old heating elements with new ones with different wattage ratings than those currently installed, check to see if there's an adapter available before installing them (or video chat with an HVAC pro).
Next, calculate how much backup heat you will need.
To determine how much backup heat you will need, first calculate the square footage of your home. A 1500-square-foot home is a good size for this example.
Next, figure out how many BTUs (British Thermal Units) are required to heat that space.
If you don't know what a BTU is or how much one is worth at this point, don't worry—we'll get there in a minute.
Take your square footage number and multiply it by about 4 to 5 for a typical well-insulated home with an average furnace or woodstove.
The resulting number represents the amount of BTUs needed per hour to keep your house warm and cozy all winter. Let's say our calculation yielded 60000 BTUs per hour:
- Calculating Your Home's Heating Requirements*
To determine how much backup heat you will need, first calculate the square footage of your home (in feet).
A 1500-square foot home is a good size for this example; however, any size can work provided you use appropriate heater strips when calculating energy consumption requirements based on total surface area covered with panels/strips installed throughout interior rooms where people spend the most time during cold months ("cold months" being defined as those times when temperatures fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit).
Find out if your existing heat pump is undersized for your home.
If you have an existing heat pump, a trained HVAC technician can see if it's undersized. Schedule a video chat with an HVAC technician.
Once the technician finishes their inspection of your unit, they'll be able to diagnose whether or not it's undersized for your home.
If your HVAC system is newly installed.
If your HVAC system is newly installed, it may already have backup heat that is appropriately sized for your home. If not, you can add it yourself or hire a professional.
If the backup heat was sized correctly when installed, it's probably still working fine. In this case, there's no need to change anything about the system
—but keep in mind that if you're trying to save money on energy bills (or just avoid high heating costs), installing and using an appropriate amount of auxiliary heat could help with that goal.
It's possible to add auxiliary heat where it didn't exist before.
Adding auxiliary heat is a great way to add comfort and efficiency to your home. You can put additional heat in many places, such as a garage, unfinished basement, attic, or any other room that isn't heated by your central heating unit.
The most common type of auxiliary heat is electric baseboard heaters. These devices are relatively easy to install and don't require ductwork like some other types of systems do; however, they do consume more energy than other options available on the market today, which means they will cost you more money at the end of each month when compared to other available options like electric radiant floor heating systems that use less electricity but provide similar results with better insulation properties than baseboard units because installed under floors instead of being mounted on walls where they don't trap warm air inside them as effectively as under radiant floor paneling does so keep this in mind when budgeting how much money it'll take out monthly (or yearly) depending on how large.
When you need help with your HVAC system, the best thing to do is get HVAC help from a Video Chat pro. Schedule with an HVAC technician on Video Chat a Pro to get details on how your auxiliary heat works.
Adding backup heat when the weather gets cold is easy to keep your home warm and toasty.
You might wonder what auxiliary heat is and why you need it.
Auxiliary heat is a backup heat source for your home during the coldest months when you rely on electric heating systems instead of natural gas.
It can also help provide supplementary cooling in the hottest summer months when your air conditioner may not be up to the task.
Here are some reasons why you might want to consider adding an auxiliary heat system:
- Your existing heating system is undersized for your home's size or layout (for example, if there are several levels with large rooms).
- You live in an area that gets colder than usual during wintertime.
- You want more comfort and control over the temperature inside your house year-round.
We hope this article has provided some helpful information about keeping your home warm during the coldest days of winter.
Please schedule an HVAC pro if you want more information on adding auxiliary heat. We would be happy to answer any questions or concerns that you may have about your HVAC system and how best to care for it.