The Best Heat Pump Temperature Settings to Keep Everyone Comfortable

Becca Stokes
Written by Becca Stokes
Updated September 23, 2021
Three children sleeping together covered in a blanket
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If your home seldom goes below freezing, a heat pump is your new best friend

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With an air-source heat pump system, you’re on your way to a more energy-efficient way of heating your home that will be kind to your wallet to boot. But heat pumps work a little bit differently than traditional thermostats. Follow these useful tips to find a heat pump temperature setting that’s right for your family and ensure your system is working as well as it can.

1. Understand How Heat Pumps Work

Before you skip right to settings, it’s important to understand what makes your new heat pump system so different from other methods of warming the house you may have used in the past. 

Traditional furnaces powered by gas work by generating heat which is pushed into your home through ducts courtesy of the furnace’s blower. Your heat pump has ducts too, but it doesn’t periodically blast air through the ducts. Instead, the pump is constantly moving air. 

Heat pumps take heat from outside and direct it into the home. The catch? They can only do this when the outdoor temperature is above freezing. When the temperature does go below freezing, heat pumps go for their backup element, which uses a lot of electricity.

2. Learn the Ideal Heat Pump Temperature Setting

Finding the temperature setting on your heat pump system that best works for your home is something that really only you can gauge. But, according to the Department of Energy, you should try to keep your system at 68 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature should keep you comfortable and allow your system to run efficiently when the home is occupied and family members are awake. Use this as a starting point, and you can adjust from there using the tips below.

3. Set With an Accurate Temperature in Mind

Gas furnaces intermittently blast air through ductwork to warm homes. But, because they aren’t constantly running hot air into your home, the hot air they release is usually warmer than the air generated by a heat pump. 

Furnaces traditionally blast air at 120 degrees, while a heat pump will use air between 90 and 100 degrees. Keep in mind that when you’re setting temps with a heat pump, a little goes a long way because the air is constantly being directed into the home. You should aim for the heat pump temperature setting that indicates how you actually want to feel.

4. Expect Longer Cycles With a Heat Pump

A heat pump system located outside a house
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Another way that heat pumps differ from gas-powered furnaces is that heat pumps are more efficient when they are running all the time. By that token, no matter what setting you put your heat pump on, you can expect it to run significantly longer than a furnace’s cycle setting would. 

Like selecting your new perfect temperature, you’ll have to go through some trial and error to find which setting works best for you and your home.

5. Leave Your Thermostat Alone

Homeowners with blast-air furnaces may spend a lot of time finding ways to save money with their systems. This process often means keeping their thermostats at the lowest possible temperature to save money. However, this method isn’t effective with heat-pump systems.

It takes these systems longer to heat the home than a gas furnace-powered system would, which means they naturally need to be on longer. Additionally, if you set the temperature too low, that could mean kicking your heat pump’s backup element into gear which will wind up using more power, not less. Again, aim for the temperature you actually want the home to feel like and then adjust from there.

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