Heat pumps heat your home by moving or “pumping” heat from outside into the house. When the temperature outside drops near or below freezing, there isn't enough heat in the air to pump into the house, so a secondary heating source is required.
During extreme cold temperatures, your electric heat pump may tap into the auxiliary heating system (also known as emergency heat), which means your electric bills will increase substantially. Setting the thermostat too high or increasing the temperature more than a degree or two at a time can also engage auxiliary heat. The Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat to 68 degrees in winter months for maximum efficiency and comfort.
Winter Energy Saving Tips
- Seal air leaks and insulate well to prevent heat from escaping and cold air from entering your home.
- Set your thermostat at 68 degrees or lower if possible and monitor your emergency heat setting. If you have an electric heat pump, your emergency heat (auxiliary resistance heat) is more likely to run when the temperature outside is below freezing.
- Open blinds and curtains during the day to allow sunlight in to warm your home.
- Close blinds and curtains at night to keep cold, drafty air out.
- Wear warm, multiple layers of clothing and set your thermostat as low as possible. If you need to raise the temperature in your home, do not increase your thermostat setting more than two degrees at a time to help prevent the resistance heat from activating.
- Turn off lights when not in use.
- Lower your water heater temperature. The Department of Energy recommends using the warm setting (120 degrees) during fall and winter months.
- Unplug electronics like kitchen appliances and TVs when you’re away.
- Use power strips for multiple appliances and turn off¬ the main switch when you’re away from home.
- Wash clothes in cold water and use cold-water detergent whenever possible.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with LEDs, which use at least 75 percent less energy.