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Furnace Auxiliary Heat
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Auxiliary Heat for Your Furnace

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 about the options for auxiliary heat sources for your central air conditioning furnace and how to use them with your HVAC system.

We will explain how backup heat works and your options for adding extra warmth when it gets cold. For example, if a heat pump system can't keep your home warm by itself, you need to add auxiliary heat, either gas or electric. Heat pumps are not always able to do the job when it comes to keeping your home warm when there is an ambient outdoor temperature difference of more than 20 degrees from the indoor heat setting.

When Do You Need to Add an Auxiliary Heat Source to Your Furnace

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 or electric heat strips in the air handler to supplement heat when it is too cold for the heat pump to work. Heat pump systems are often paired with an air handler equipped with electric heat strips or a propane or natural gas furnace to provide auxiliary heat.

Heat pump systems 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 when temperatures drop below freezing. The heat pump transfers heat from the outside air and if it is too cold the heat pump may freeze up and spend most of its time in defrost mode.

In these situations, you will want a secondary heating source such as auxiliary heat (like a gas furnace or electric heat strips) so that you'll still be warm enough.

First, figure out if you have a furnace or an air handler. Both can contain electric heat strips. Most air handlers most likely contain secondary heat strips because most states require two heat sources for your home and a heat pump HVAC System is restricted by the lack of ambient outside temperatures above 40 degrees on most winter days. Most thermostats for a heat pump system without secondary heat will not have the option to select emergency heat.

Check Your Thermostat for Emergency Heat Setting

Most homes will have two heat sources and this can be noted on the thermostat. The thermostat will note the primary source as heat and the backup heat will be noted as aux heat or emergency heat. When the heat pump system enters the defrost mode the system will automatically request for the auxillary heat to be used.

Calculate Your Home's Heating Requirements

To determine how much backup heat you will need, first calculate the size of your home (in sq feet). You will only add the measurements of the spaces you will be heating or cooling, do not add the garage or porches.

A 1500-square foot home is a good size for this example; however, any size can work provided you use appropriate heat 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).

Your Heat Pump System Could be Undersized

If you have an existing heat pump, a trained HVAC technician can check to see if it's undersized. Schedule a video chat with an HVAC technician. You can book a video chat HVAC technician to learn everything you need to know about your home heating and cooling system.

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, 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.

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

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.

HVAC help

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 makes it 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.

Here are some reasons why you might want to consider adding an auxiliary heat.

  • 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 teach you how to care for it properly.

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