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Heat Pump Operating Tips

How Does It Work?

During the cooling cycle, your system will remove heat and humidity from your home and will transfer this heat to the outdoor air. During the heating cycle, your system will remove heat and humidity from the outdoor air and will transfer this heat to your home. This is possible because even at 20 degrees the outdoor air contains a great deal of heat. Your heat pump does not generate much heat. It merely transfers it from one place to another.

In the mid-Missouri climate, a heat pump cannot completely replace a furnace. Once winter temperatures dip to around 20 degrees or below, a heat pump works less efficiently and requires help from a standard combustion furnace. Generally, the furnace is only required for about 25% of the heating season.

Operating Tips

Knowing how to properly operate your heat pump will help you realize the maximum amount of energy savings.

Heating Season

Setting your thermostat to the lowest comfortable temperature is the best approach to conserving energy and saving money. Energy Star recommends a temperature of 68 degrees during the heating season.

Many thermostats have an indicator light that tells you when the back-up heat is on. It may be labeled “emergency” or “auxiliary.” Generally, you should see this light only during very cold days when the temperature is below 20 degrees.

Frequent or drastic changes to your thermostat setting may cause you to use more energy. Avoid increasing your thermostat setting by more than two degrees at a time. A greater change can cause your back-up heat to come on. Whenever your back-up heat comes on unnecessarily, you will be losing an opportunity to save energy.

If you have a thermostat with adaptive recovery, larger temperature changes can be used without the back-up heat coming on. Keep in mind that the heat pump does not have the capacity to recover from the lower setback temperature quickly.

Cooling Season

When your heat pump is operating in the cooling mode, you can adjust your thermostat setting up or down without worrying about additional systems coming on. For economical operation, however, aim for the highest comfortable temperature when selecting your thermostat setting. For the cooling season, the recommended temperature is 78 degrees.

Discounted Heat Pump Electric Rate

Heat pumps help Columbia Water & Light reduce summer peak demand which saves the utility money. Although they use more electricity during the winter, electric prices are lower for the utility during these months Columbia passes along the savings to our customers with high-efficiency heat pumps. The discounted heat pump rate is applied from October through May. Minimum insultion requirements are a requirement of this electric rate classification. Contact us to sign up for the rate, e-mail us at or call 573-874-7325. See our  opens in a new windowelectric rate page on our main website for more detailed rate information.

Contact Utility Services


701 E Broadway, Columbia, MO 65205


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