As winter steadily approaches and temperatures drop, a common feature in many homes is the emergency heat function in HVAC systems. While it’s designed to keep you warm during power outages or when the primary heat source fails, leaving it on for an extended period can lead to exorbitant energy costs. Lucky for you, turning off this system is a simple process that requires basic knowledge and skills. In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide on how to turn off emergency heat, and everything you need to know about keeping your home cozy and energy-efficient during the colder months.

1. Understanding Emergency Heat: What Is It and When Is It Needed?

How to Turn Off Emergency Heat: A Comprehensive Guide

Emergency heat is a function in your home’s heating system that is designed to provide extra heat during extremely cold weather. It’s important to know when to use emergency heat to keep your home safe and warm during these times.

If your home’s primary heating system fails, the emergency heat option will kick in to keep your home warm until repairs can be made. It’s important to know how to turn off emergency heat to prevent overheating and high energy bills when it’s no longer necessary.

Identifying Common Emergency Heat Systems: Types and Features

There are several types of emergency heat systems, including electric heat strips, gas furnace backups, and heat pumps. Each system has unique features and functions, so it’s important to know which one you have in your home and how it operates.

Electric heat strips are commonly used in heat pumps. They provide additional heat when the heat pump cannot keep up with demand. Gas furnace backups are often used in older homes or in areas with extremely cold weather. They are designed to kick in when the main heating source fails. Heat pumps are a popular option, as they can provide both heating and cooling all year round.

Steps to Turn Off Emergency Heat: A Comprehensive Guide

To turn off emergency heat, you should first locate the emergency heat switch or control panel. This is typically located on the main thermostat or in your home’s electrical panel.

Once you’ve located the switch or panel, turn off emergency heat and return your heating system to its normal mode. You may need to adjust the temperature on your thermostat to ensure your home is at a comfortable temperature.

If you’re unsure about how to turn off emergency heat or if you’re experiencing issues with your heating system, it’s important to contact a professional technician for help.

2. Identifying Common Emergency Heat Systems: Types and Features

One of the most important steps in understanding how to turn off emergency heat is identifying the type of system you have. Emergency heat systems come in different types and have varying features, so it’s essential to know what you have and how it works.

Electric Furnace

An electric furnace is a common type of emergency heat system found in many homes. This system uses electric resistance to generate heat, and when the primary heating system malfunctions, it automatically switches to emergency heat. Typically, electric furnaces are located in the basement or utility room and are identifiable by their large, rectangular cabinets.

Heat Pump

A heat pump is another type of emergency heat system. It works by extracting heat from the outside and transferring it inside the home. In heating mode, the heat pump pulls heat from outdoor air, water, or ground and distributes it throughout the house. When the primary heating system fails, the heat pump switches to emergency heat mode. Heat pumps are recognized by their outdoor unit, which may have a fan and a compressor.

Gas Furnace

A gas furnace is the most common type of heating system in the United States. It burns natural gas or propane to generate heat. When the primary heating unit fails, the gas furnace automatically switches to emergency heat mode. Gas furnaces are typically located in the basement or attic and have a chimney or flue pipe for venting.

Oil Furnace

An oil furnace is similar to a gas furnace, but it burns oil instead of gas to produce heat. When the primary heating system malfunctions, the oil furnace switches to emergency heat mode. Oil furnaces are commonly found in older homes and are recognized by their oil tank and piping.

Knowing the type of emergency heat system you have can help you troubleshoot problems and turn it off when necessary. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the features and operation of your emergency heat system to ensure safe and efficient operation.

3. Steps to Turn Off Emergency Heat: A Comprehensive Guide

When the weather gets cold, many homeowners rely on their emergency heat to keep their homes warm and cozy. However, there may come a time when you need to turn off this feature, and knowing how to do so properly is important. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to turn off emergency heat in a few simple steps:

Step 1: Locate the Emergency Heat Button

First, you need to know where your emergency heat button is located. It’s typically found on your thermostat and labeled “Emergency Heat” or “Em Heat.”

Step 2: Turn Off the Emergency Heat

Once you’ve located the button, it’s time to turn off the emergency heat. Simply press the button, and the system will shut down.

Step 3: Switch to Regular Heat

After turning off the emergency heat, you’ll want to switch back to your regular heat setting. To do this, simply toggle the switch on your thermostat from “Emergency Heat” to “Heat” or “Auto.”

It’s important to note that emergency heat is often more expensive than regular heat. Therefore, it’s best to use it only when necessary. If you’re unsure about when to use emergency heat, consult with a professional.

Remember to regularly check on your emergency heat system and make sure there are no issues. If there are, consult the next section for troubleshooting tips.

4. Problems that May Arise with Emergency Heat and How to Troubleshoot Them

Being familiar with the difficulties that may arise with emergency heat is essential in maintaining a well-functioning heating system. As this system is used as a backup to your primary heating source, it is crucial to know the potential issues and how to troubleshoot them when they occur. Here are some common problems you may encounter with emergency heat and how to solve them.

Thermostat Malfunctioning

A malfunctioning thermostat is a frequent issue that may occur in a backup heating system. If your emergency heat is running continuously or not turning on at all, it might be an indication that your thermostat is malfunctioning. You can perform a quick check by changing the temperature settings to see if the heating system responds accordingly. If it doesn’t, you may need to replace the thermostat or contact a professional for assistance.

Dirty Filters

Dirty filters are another typical problem you might encounter with your emergency heat system. Over time, filters can collect dust and debris that can block the airflow and cause the system to malfunction or shut off entirely. To prevent this issue, you should replace the filters regularly. If you notice that your unit is not working efficiently, check the filters and clean or replace them as necessary.

Lack of Maintenance

Neglecting routine maintenance is another factor that can lead to problems with your emergency heating system. Regular maintenance ensures that your system is running efficiently and correctly. If you do not maintain your system, components might wear out, and the system may break down. It is advisable to schedule annual maintenance from a professional to avoid any significant glitches with your emergency heat system.

By understanding the difficulties that may arise with emergency heat and having the knowledge of how to troubleshoot them, you can keep your heating system running efficiently. If these quick fixes do not resolve the issues, it is recommended that you contact a technician for professional help.

5. Tips on Reducing the Need for Emergency Heat and Saving Energy

As emergency heat is typically a backup heating system intended to operate only during extreme weather conditions, it is important to take proper measures to reduce its usage and save energy. Here are some useful tips to minimize the need for emergency heat and lower your energy bills.

Upgrade Your Insulation

One of the most effective ways to reduce the need for emergency heat is to ensure that your home is properly insulated. Insulation helps to maintain a consistent indoor temperature, preventing heat loss during winter and heat gain during summer. Consider adding insulation to your attic, walls, and floors to minimize heat transfer between indoor and outdoor environments. You can also seal gaps, cracks, and air leaks with caulk or weather stripping to improve energy efficiency.

Use a Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat can help you to control the temperature in your home and adjust it according to your schedule. With a programmable thermostat, you can pre-set your heating system to turn on only when you need it, such as during the morning or evening when you are at home. You can also lower the temperature at night or when you are away to save energy and reduce the load on your emergency heat system.

Maintain Your Heating System

Regular maintenance of your heating system is essential to ensure that it operates efficiently and effectively. Dirty filters, clogged ducts, and malfunctioning components can reduce the performance of your heating system and increase the likelihood of emergency heat activation. Schedule annual HVAC inspections and cleanings to keep your heating system in tip-top shape and avoid costly repairs or replacements.

By implementing these tips, you can reduce the need for emergency heat and save energy, helping you to stay comfortable throughout the winter without breaking the bank.

6. Alternative Heating Options: Pros and Cons of Different Systems

If your home relies on emergency heat, it may be worth considering alternative heating options. Not only can this help reduce your reliance on emergency heat, but it can also save you money on energy bills in the long run. Here are a few different heating options to consider:

1. Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are an energy-efficient alternative to emergency heat that can provide both heating and cooling for your home. They work by extracting heat from the air or ground outside and transferring it inside to warm your home. While they can be more expensive to install than traditional heating systems, they can also save you money on energy bills over time. However, they may not be suitable for extremely cold climates as they become less efficient at lower temperatures.

2. Gas Furnaces

Gas furnaces are a common heating option that can be more affordable than heat pumps. They work by burning natural gas to heat air that is then circulated throughout your home. However, they can be less energy-efficient than heat pumps and may contribute to higher carbon emissions. Additionally, they require regular maintenance to ensure safe and efficient operation.

3. Pellet Stoves

Pellet stoves are a renewable heating option that burns biomass pellets made from compressed sawdust, wood chips, or other materials. They can be more affordable than gas or electric heating options and are renewable. However, they require regular cleaning and maintenance and may not be as efficient or effective at heating larger spaces.

Consider these options when looking to reduce your reliance on emergency heat and save money on energy bills. Keep in mind that each heating system has its pros and cons, and consulting with a professional can help you make the best decision for your home.

7. Professional Help: When to Call a Technician to Service Your Emergency Heat System

It’s important to know when to call a professional technician to service your emergency heat system. If you’re experiencing issues with your emergency heat system that you can’t troubleshoot on your own, it may be time to consult with a professional. Here are a few situations that may require the expertise of a technician:

1. When the Emergency Heat System Isn’t Working Properly

If you’ve followed all the troubleshooting steps to turn off your emergency heat and still aren’t getting the desired results, it’s time to call a technician. An expert can diagnose the problem and provide the necessary repairs or replacements. This is especially important if you’re facing extreme cold weather conditions where the system is crucial to keep your home warm and safe.

2. When The Emergency Heat System Needs Regular Maintenance or Tune-Ups

Regular maintenance is important to keep your emergency heat system in top condition. It’s recommended that you schedule maintenance checks at least once a year to ensure your system is functioning efficiently and is ready to use in case of emergency. A certified technician can perform routine inspections, clean out the system, and replace any worn-out parts.

3. When You’re in Doubt

If you’re unsure about the state of your emergency heat system or feel that it’s not working as it should, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and seek professional help. Remember that trying to fix a complex heating system on your own could end up causing more damage and cost you more in the long run. Therefore, it’s always advisable to contact a professional technician, who has the skills and equipment to diagnose and fix any issues with your emergency heat system.

Remember, your safety and comfort are paramount when it comes to your home’s heating system. By taking precautions to reduce the need for emergency heating and calling in the professionals when you need help, you can keep your system running smoothly and enjoy a warm and comfortable home throughout the cold winter months.

People Also Ask:

1. Why would you need to turn off emergency heat?

Emergency heat is a backup for normal heating in case of a malfunction, but should only be used for a short period of time. Turning it off can help reduce energy bills and prevent overheating.

2. How do you know if emergency heat is on?

Look for the emergency heat indicator light on the thermostat, or feel for hot air coming from the vents. Emergency heat is also indicated by the thermostat being set to “emergency” or “auxiliary” mode.

3. How do you turn off emergency heat on a thermostat?

Find the emergency heat setting on the thermostat and switch it off. This setting is usually located under the “system” or “mode” button on digital thermostats, or on a separate switch near the main thermostat.

4. What happens if you leave emergency heat on?

Leaving emergency heat on for longer periods of time can result in high energy bills and damage to your heating system. Emergency heat is designed for short-term use only, as it uses more power and can overheat your system.

5. How do you reset emergency heat?

If your emergency heat system has malfunctioned, turn it off and wait for it to cool down. Check for any damaged or broken parts, and replace them if necessary. If the problem persists, contact a professional technician for assistance.


To save money and avoid damaging your heating system, it’s important to turn off the emergency heat when it’s no longer needed. Be sure to check the indicator light on your thermostat, and don’t leave emergency heat on for extended periods of time. If you encounter any problems, contact a professional technician for help.