It’s a tale you’ve probably heard since air-source heat pumps started becoming more widespread: “Don’t bother with one in Denver! They can’t keep up with our cold winters.” Fortunately, that’s just not true! At least, not anymore.

There are plenty of heat pumps on the market rated for—wait for it: sub-zero weather! We’re getting more air-source heat pumps in cold climates all the time. In other words, when a true Denver winter hits, you can trust your heat pump to keep you warm—and without the greenhouse gas emissions or carbon monoxide hazards that come with a gas furnace.

But first, more about the massive leaps that heat pumps have taken over the last 20 years that allow them to be an efficient, inexpensive-to-operate Denver-area heating solution.

Using Heat Pumps in Cold Climates

Early air-source heat pumps worked best in mild climates because their efficiency dropped as the temperature dropped. Now, cold-weather and cold-climate pumps are becoming more widely available. The secret sauce is the inclusion of a variable-speed compressor, powered by an inverter. Cold-climate heat pumps (CCHPs) must have a Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) of 10 or higher to earn the name. However, 8–10 is considered a serviceable HSPF rating for cold-weather locales like Denver.

What Are the Different Types of Heat Pumps that Work Well in Denver?

There are two different kinds of heat pumps: air-source and geothermal. (You can find ducted and unducted mini-split systems for both varieties.)

Air-source heat pumps are the most common—and less expensive—option, and currently come with substantial federal incentives. They use electricity to redistribute the warmth from outside, moving it inside to heat your home and move your home’s hot air outside in the summer to cool your home (your heat pump also serves as your air conditioner). Because they don’t create heat, air-source heat pumps are 300% efficient.

Geothermal, or ground-source, heat pumps work in exactly the same way, but collect heat from just a few feet below the soil surface instead of the ambient air. They are more expensive and messier to install, but they make up for it with heating and cooling that’s 400% efficient. Geothermal heat pumps do not need to be rated for cold weather, since even in the most bitterly cold winters, the temperature several feet underground stays constant. These ground-source heat pumps come with a 30% tax credit for the cost of the unit and the installation.

If you need help choosing the best type of heat pump for your home and budget, you can always ask an HVAC expert.

Is a Heat Pump for Heating and Cooling?

Yes! While heat pumps in winter provide steady, efficient heating, they can also cool you off in the summer. This can bring relief to the 30% of homes in Denver that don’t have air conditioning, especially as summer temperatures continue to get more extreme. An efficient system that does double-duty heating and cooling, a heat pump just makes sense as a replacement for older or heating-only HVAC systems. They can even supplement your current heating and cooling, taking the edge off your bill.

Benefitting from a Denver Heat Pump Rebate

A 30% cost federal tax credit for ground-source pumps and multiple rebates and credits for air-source heat pumps make installation costs less daunting. You can also benefit from Denver-specific incentives for air- and ground-source pumps. Denver heat pump rebates come from the City and County of Denver and apply to existing single-family homes or small multi-family homes of four units or less. You must be an Xcel Energy customer to qualify for the home energy rebate. For more information about which heat pump models qualify, see the Denver Home Energy FAQs.

Keep Your Heat Pump Running with Expert Maintenance

If you’re considering a heat pump, One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning of Denver can get you set up. You can augment your current HVAC or replace a failing AC or furnace with a far more energy-efficient unit. If the weather’s turning chilly and you’re starting to hear strange noises from your heat pump, we’re here to help. Simply call us at (303) 622-3401 or book an appointment online for installation or repairs.