Should I Turn My Heat Pump Off In Extreme Cold?

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By Debarghya Roy

What are heat pumps?

Heat pumps are a must for modern homes. They transfer heat from outside to inside, giving both heat and coolness. But it’s important to understand how they work and when to turn them off. During cold weather, people may switch them off as they don’t give as much heat as a furnace. This saves energy in the short run, but it can harm the compressor.

It is advised that during extreme cold, they should be kept on but in defrost mode. This removes ice on the outside coils while keeping performance and efficiency high.

Heat pumps are great at giving warm air even when the temp falls below zero Celsius. So there’s no need to switch them off.

According to the Department of Energy, heat pumps save 50% on heating bills. So it’s important to use them right and not reduce their life by switching them off in cold weather.

Factors to consider before turning off a heat pump in extreme cold

Turning off a heat pump in freezing weather may seem viable, but several factors must be considered before doing so. 

  • Firstly, the type and age of the heat pump, as well as the severity and duration of the cold weather, can significantly impact its performance and lifespan. 
  • Secondly, the cost of restarting the heat pump and heating the house from scratch must be evaluated against the cost of continuous operation. 
  • Finally, the potential risks of frozen or burst pipes and prolonged discomfort must be considered.

Additionally, it is essential to consult with a professional HVAC technician to assess the situation and make an informed decision. They can advise on optimal temperature settings, thermostat adjustments, and maintenance procedures to ensure optimal performance and longevity of the heat pump.

It is worth noting that each scenario is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Therefore, it is crucial to consider individual circumstances before deciding on the heat pump’s operation during freezing weather.

Should I Turn My Heat Pump Off In Extreme Cold

Lastly, a homeowner recalls turning off their heat pump during a freezing and severe winter, only to have pipes freeze and burst, resulting in extensive damage and expensive repairs. This anecdote highlights the importance of considering all factors before making a decision that could potentially have costly and detrimental consequences.

Your heat pump has a lower temperature threshold than a snowman in a sauna.

Temperature threshold of the heat pump

The optimal temperature range for heat pumps varies depending on the model and maker. Knowing the temp threshold of your pump is essential before turning it off in freezing weather. Consider these factors when deciding: manufacturer, model, and temp threshold.

  • ABC Corp.’s Pump A1: -15°C
  • XZY Enterprises’ Pump X2: -20°C
  • MNO Inc.’s Pump M4: -10°C

Before shutting down your heat pump, consider how long it’ll stay off and its overall condition. Regular maintenance and repair will help keep your pump running in extreme cold.

Be careful when shutting off your unit. Think about its age, make, model, and condition. Make sure to set a realistic timeline for shut-off and restart. Protect your heat pump and keep your home comfortable this winter by making informed decisions. Consult a professional if you need clarification. Choose the correct type of heat pump or enjoy using it as a decorative paperweight during winter. 

Type of heat pump

A few things must be considered when selecting a heat pump for your home. There are various types of pumps with distinct features and capabilities.

Look at the table below for common types of heat pumps, their advantages, and their drawbacks.

Type of Heat PumpAdvantagesDisadvantages
Air-Source Heat Pump– Easy setup- Heats and cools- Cheap– Low efficiency in cold weather- Outdoor unit can be loud
Geothermal Heat Pump– High efficiency, up to 75% energy savings– Low carbon footprint- Long-lasting– High upfront cost- Needs large space for installation
Hybrid Heat Pump– Combines electric and combustion tech, lowering bills.- Emits less CO2- Can switch fuel sources.– Expensive installation

The size of your house, climate, and budget should be considered when picking the right heat pump.

In cold temperatures, the time before shutting off a heat pump matters. Working the system too long can damage internal parts. So it’s essential to figure out when to turn it off to prevent stressing it for too long.

Keep going with your old heat pump just because it’s getting older.

Age and condition of the heat pump

The heat pump’s performance is deeply affected by its age and condition. Neglecting maintenance or having an outdated system can lead to below-par performance, especially in cold weather. Consider the size of the unit and environmental factors like wind chill and humidity too.

Should I Turn My Heat Pump Off In Extreme Cold

A table can demonstrate how the age and condition of a heat pump affect performance during cold weather:

Age of Heat PumpCondition of Heat PumpPerformance during Cold Weather
Less than 5 yearsExcellentHigh
Older than 5 yearsGoodModerate
More than 10 yearsPoorVery Low

Other important things to consider when deciding whether to turn off the heat pump in extreme cold are: size of unit, outdoor temperature with wind chill, humidity, and home insulation quality.

Turning off an old or malfunctioning heat pump won’t save energy, it will backfire by reducing insulation efficiency and increasing energy costs. So, consider repairing or replacing the system for better performance and lower energy bills.

Take it as a warning: don’t risk losing heat in extreme cold. Make sure your heat pump is in tip-top shape regularly. If there’s any doubt about age or condition, call an HVAC professional.

Pros and cons of turning off a heat pump in extreme cold

When considering whether to turn off a heat pump in freezing weather, it is essential to understand its pros and cons. Here are some key points to consider:


When cold weather comes, energy consumption can be a headache for heat pump users. Turning off the system can bring several benefits:

  1. Firstly, it saves money on energy bills.
  2. Secondly, it prevents any damage that could happen.
  3. Thirdly, it reduces the wear and tear of the components.
  4. Lastly, it is eco-friendly and helps reduce carbon footprint.

However, one should consult experts for different scenarios as it varies depending on several factors. For example, if people leave their homes for a while in cold weather or have other heating sources like space heaters, they may not need a heat pump.

Some alternatives are:

  • Use space heaters or electric blankets when extra warmth is needed instead of relying solely on the heat pump.
  • Upgrade to a programmable thermostat that regulates temperature effectively. This allows one to manually turn off the system while still maintaining comfortable temperature levels.

In conclusion, it’s best to ask professionals for advice to make decisions based on the local area. Also, consider alternate heating solutions like programmable thermostats and supplementary heating devices instead of replacing the HVAC system due to environmental needs or costs. Neglect your heat pump, and you’ll be left in the cold!

Prevention of damage to the heat pump

Take precautionary steps to prevent harm to the heat pump in cold weather!

  1. Please turn it off in case of power outages or when the heat pump stops working due to the cold.
  2. Never turn it off deliberately; pipes and other parts can freeze and cause permanent destruction.
  3. Set the thermostat to a lower temperature instead of shutting it off.
  4. Clean the air filters for proper airflow and no freezing.
  5. Keep the area around the outdoor unit free of ice and snow.

Recall: shutting down the heat pump increases maintenance costs and can cause significant damage.

So, keep the temperature steady; it’ll make your family comfy and help you dodge costly repair bills. By following these steps, you can keep the heat pump working even in icy weather; you save time and money.

Reduction of energy consumption

Reducing energy consumption is a big plus of switching off the heat pump in extreme cold. This assists homeowners in conserving energy and decreasing their electricity bills. Turning off the heat pump stops any unnecessary usage, thus reducing the amount of heat produced indoors and minimizing energy consumption. Not only does this reduce costs, but it also helps preserve natural resources and reduce carbon footprint.

Another benefit of reducing energy consumption by turning off the heat pump is that it increases its lifespan. Overuse can cause damage, which shortens the life expectancy of HVAC systems. These systems ordinarily last 15-25 years, but extensive use affects this. Thus, switching off the heat pump in icy conditions saves electricity bills and improves its longevity.

It’s important to remember that monitoring indoor temperatures is essential while saving energy costs and prolonging the HVAC system’s life are vital aspects of turning off a heat pump in freezing weather. Heat pumps provide warmth even when turned off, so observing temperature levels and adjusting accordingly is recommended.

Pro Tip: Turn off your heat pump overnight when no one requires indoor heating until you have clever thermostats installed with preset schedules or temperature sensors that report back information about changes in your home’s climate.

Turning off your heat pump in extreme cold is like wearing shorts in a blizzard; it may seem like a good idea, but you’ll regret it later.


Turning off a heat pump in harsh cold weather can be detrimental. Here are 6 reasons why:

  • It can cause frozen pipes and pricey plumbing damage.
  • It’ll make the house colder, making it uncomfortable or unsafe for older adults and pets.
  • Reheating the home from scratch could take longer than simply sustaining the current temp.
  • Stopping and starting again may cause wear and tear to components, leading to future issues.
  • A completely shut-down pump uses more energy upon restart than it would have with a regular cycle.
  • If your home needs to be well-insulated, it could mean significant temperature changes indoors.

These factors vary based on conditions. If you’re away from home for days/weeks, turning it off may be beneficial, only if it won’t cause frozen pipes. If something’s amiss after restarting, consulting a technician is the way to go. Plus, regular heating system maintenance is always intelligent. Are you restarting after turning it off in the extreme cold? Harder than finding a needle in a haystack.blindfolded.with one hand tied behind your back.

Difficulty in restarting the system

Turning off the heat pump in extreme cold can make restarting it tough. Here are some things to think about:

  1. Check the temperature outside. If it’s been below freezing for a while, the lubricant in the compressor might have thickened, making it hard to turn on.
  2. Look for ice or debris in or around the outdoor unit. This could cause complications.
  3. Give enough time for any frost and ice to melt.
  4. Check electrical connections, like the contactor and capacitor, for damage.
  5. Turn on thermostats and the system control panel. Let it run for a few minutes without extra heating help.
  6. If problems persist, call a pro rather than try to fix them yourself.

Plus, maintain your heat pump regularly for efficient performance in extreme weather.

Discomfort to the occupants.

Maintaining your heat pump in extreme cold is vital for comfortable indoor temps. Neglect may cause occupants to feel rigidness inside and put them at risk of hypothermia. Regularly check components like air filters, coils, and refrigerant levels to guarantee optimal operation. Otherwise, uneven heating, frost accumulation, and poor air quality can occur.

To stay warm without risking dangerous drops in temp, inspect your heat pump and understand how heating systems work in different temperatures. It’s vital for comfort during extreme cold. Keeping your heat pump on is like a perpetual motion machine; it keeps going.

Alternatives to turning off the heat pump in extreme cold

Heat pumps are an essential part of most households, especially during winter. In cold weather, turning off the heat pump may seem logical, but it is unsuitable for the appliance’s health. Instead of turning it off, taking certain measures can be more effective.

Consider the following alternatives to turning off the heat pump in extreme cold:

  • Set the thermostat to a lower temperature than usual
  • Replace the air filters to ensure maximum airflow
  • Check the refrigerant levels and recharge if needed
  • Insulate the heat pump with a cover
  • Ensure all windows and doors in the house are closed

It is crucial to note that turning off the heat pump in cold weather can cause the appliance to freeze, and it can take a long time to defrost, leading to costly repairs. The alternatives mentioned above can ensure that the heat pump runs efficiently and effectively without any damage.

One of the unique details to keep in mind is that heat pumps operate differently than furnaces. Heat pumps extract heat from the air outside and transfer it inside, and when the temperature falls below freezing, the appliance needs to switch on an auxiliary heating source to maintain warmth. Therefore, turning off the heat pump can cause the auxiliary heating to kick in, leading to higher energy bills.

Pro Tip: Maintaining the heat pump regularly, such as getting it serviced annually, is crucial to ensure that it is functioning correctly and efficiently.

Who needs an auxiliary heat source when you have the burning anger of your heating bill keeping you warm?

Use of auxiliary heat source

In cold weather, a heat source can help the heat pump. This could be an electric heater or a gas furnace. With an additional heat source, your home will be warmer without depending only on the heat pump.

The aux heating system connects to the thermostat. It activates when the heat pump can’t reach the temperature needed. This prevents the heat pump from overworking, extending its life.

Electric heaters cost more to use for a long time. Gas furnaces are cheaper and better for long-term use.

Pro Tip: Don’t use space heaters. They’re not safe and need to be watched closely. Get a heater for the heat pump’s crankcase to feel warm and cozy!

Installation of a crankcase heater

Turning off the heat pump isn’t the only solution when the weather’s cold. Installing a crankcase 

The heater can help with better performance and last longer. Here’s a 4-step guide:

  1. Turn off all power to the heat pump.
  2. Find the installation site, usually on the side of the compressor or discharge pipe.
  3. Mount and wire the heater as instructed; don’t mess with other wires.
  4. Test and adjust, and ensure the wiring is safely out of reach and hidden.

Each installation will differ, so talk to an experienced pro before you buy. And watch out for side effects like loud noise or higher energy use.

Regular maintenance check-ups with contractors will keep the heating system working great for years. In wintertime, keeping your heat pump running is always best.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I turn off my heat pump in extreme cold?

No, you should not turn off your heat pump in extreme cold. Heat pumps are designed to handle shallow temperatures and heat your home even in harsh winter conditions.

Can extreme cold damage my heat pump?

While extreme cold can affect the performance of your heat pump, it is not likely to cause damage. Heat pumps are built to withstand cold weather and will continue to function correctly if maintained and serviced regularly.

Will the cost of running my heat pump be higher in extreme cold?

 Yes, the cost of running your heat pump may be higher in extreme cold. However, this price increase is often less than running a traditional heating system under the same conditions.

Can I lower my heat pump’s temperature to save energy in extreme cold?

Lowering your heat pump’s temperature setting in extreme cold is not recommended. This can cause your system to work harder, resulting in higher energy usage and increased wear and tear on your unit.

How can I ensure my heat pump works efficiently in extreme cold?

Regular maintenance and servicing of your heat pump are crucial to ensure it works efficiently in extreme cold. This includes regular cleaning, filter replacements, and checking the refrigerant levels.


Heat pumps can have issues when it gets too cold. As a heat pump owner, making the right decision for your system in freezing temperatures is essential. You don’t need to turn off the heat pump, but switching the backup heating system is wise.

Switching off the heat pump in extreme weather can damage the compressor. Running it continuously in the cold can strain the system, causing overheating and malfunctions.

We suggest setting up a cut-out temperature feature. This will switch on the backup heating system when temperatures reach less than 10°F. Don’t forget to get regular maintenance and cleaning from professionals.

Pro Tip: Getting maintenance saves money in the long run.

Heat Pump