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Manage auxiliary mode to heat for less

Heating systems throughout northern Georgia will be getting a workout over the next few months. But that doesn’t mean your electric bill has to soar, says Rigs Santos, a Walton EMC residential energy advisor.

“Savings can be found in how often the heat strips in your electric heat pump are activated,” he said. Heat strips provide supplemental heat. They require more energy to function than the normal operations of your system.

Though it’s necessary for a heat pump to use heat strips to perform some tasks, here are actions you can take to reduce how frequently they automatically switch on:

Keep the thermostat set at 68 degrees. Keeping your house at a lower, regulated temperature will reduce the amount of heat your heat pump has to create, which reduces its need to rely on heat strips.

Raise the temperature gradually. If you lower your home’s temperature while you’re away, bring the heat up in two-degree increments. More than two degrees at a time may make the system fall back on the heat strips for support.

Don’t use the emergency setting. Even if temperatures plunge, don’t change the thermostat from the HEAT setting. In the emergency mode, only the electric heat strips are operational. Relying on heat strips for any extended amount of time can drive up your electric bill. Use the emergency setting only when there’s an actual emergency, such as when the heat pump compressor fails.