Don’t Try to Tame Your Thermostat If You Have a Heat Pump

Each year about this time, we share tips to help our co-op members save energy as the cold weather moves in and HVAC systems work hard to keep homes warm and comfortable. See our previous posts on Getting Cozy with Your HVAC System, Raising Your Energy Efficiency as Temperatures Fall, and Tips for Staying Warm for Less as examples. 

These posts highlight some straightforward options for beating the winter chill: improve your insulation, change your air filters, and program your thermostat to operate at a lower temperature during the day when you’re out of the house at work. We still stand by that advice, and consider this your reminder to change your air filter before the cold weather hits. But that bit about keeping the thermostat low may bite you in the proverbial butt if you’re a homeowner with a heat pump system.


Erasing Energy Savings with Auxiliary Heat

That’s because if your temperature drops too much, it can trigger the emergency heat and that can result in an energy bill that’s higher than it needs to be. “Basically, the heat pump doesn’t raise the temperature as fast as the circuit board thinks it should,” Energy Programs Analyst Dan Phillips explained. “So the system freaks out a bit and turns on the auxiliary heat…  It doesn’t take long for the auxiliary heat to totally erase any savings achieved by setting back the thermostat.” 

So if you heat your home with a heat pump, your best bet is to use the late, great TV pitchman Ron Popeil’s method: Set it, and Forget it! Even though saving on energy might not be as easy as adjusting your thermostat, the good news is your air source heat pump is already reducing your household energy use by as much as 40%. So give yourself a pat on the back. You’re already winning.

As the leaves outside reach their brightest colors and fall hits its peak, it’s a great time to revisit those old blog posts and start knocking out your winter HVAC checklist. Like we said, get that filter changed! But as you head into winter, make sure you’re informed and use the best practices for your particular system.

Not sure if your home is as efficient as it should be? Whatever your home energy question or concern, your local energy advisor is here to find answers. Schedule your free, home energy assessment to learn more about how you can start saving right now.