Is a Heat Pump or AC better for your Colorado Home?

November 8, 2021

If you’re looking to install a new cooling system, you may be wondering whether a heat pump or central air conditioning system is more suitable for your Colorado home.

The most significant difference between a central AC and a heat pump is that heat pumps have the ability to both heat AND cool your home, whereas central AC systems can only cool your home.

When choosing between the two options, you should consider the climate where you live. Average Colorado temperatures range from 22°F to 89°F throughout the year, so while both options can effectively cool your home in the warmer months, if a heat pump is your only source of heat in the winter, it might not cut it. 

When determining which HVAC system is suitable for your home, you’ll want to ensure you’re getting the most efficient cooling system for your space and budget. In this blog, we’ll go over the following factors to help you determine which cooling system is best for your current situation:

  • The difference between a heat pump and an AC
  • Reasons to install an AC
  • Other factors to consider

Looking to replace or install an eco-friendly cooling solution ASAP? Let the Cooper Green Team help. We provide fast, long-lasting cooling system repairs and installations, backed by 100% customer satisfaction.

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The difference between a heat pump and an AC

Heat pumps can heat and cool your home, while air conditioners can only cool your home. 

In order to cool your space, heat pumps and air conditioners both use refrigerant to transfer heat from inside your home to the outdoors. However, heat pumps can also serve as a heating system in the winter by simply reversing the flow of the refrigerant. They will absorb heat from the outside air and transfer the heat into your home to warm up your house. Since AC units can only cool your home, you’ll probably need a furnace for heating in the winter months. 

Because heat pumps move heat rather than create heat, they aren’t ideal for cold climates. Heat pumps work best in mild temperatures (30 degrees and above) and are not suitable for super cold climates or places with more extreme winters. Heat pumps lose efficiency in below-freezing temperatures, primarily because it takes more energy to move heat from the cold air outside into your home.

Why install an AC system?

Although heat pumps work just like an air conditioner in the summer and you’re essentially getting two systems in one, here are the reasons Colorado homeowners should consider an air conditioner over a heat pump:

  • Heat pumps don’t work in freezing temperatures — The average low temperature during winter in Colorado is 18°F. Since there must be heat for a heat pump to transfer into your home during the winter, they aren’t great in Colorado when temperatures get below about 30° F. 
  • If you have a new heating system Although a heat pump is more cost-effective than buying both a new furnace and air conditioner, installing a heat pump is more expensive than purchasing an AC or furnace alone. So, if you’ve recently installed a furnace or other heating system and only need a cooling system, an AC might be the right choice.
  • If you have a gas heating system — Heat pumps can’t run on gas because they are electric systems. So, if your home’s heating system runs on gas heat, an AC system and the heating option you currently have is a better choice for you than replacing both with a heat pump. Why? Natural gas is cheaper than electricity.

Other factors to consider when choosing a cooling system

There are two other factors you’ll need to consider that will impact the cost of your installation and your monthly energy bills:

  • SEER rating — The SEER Rating (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) of an AC or heat pump measures how efficient that system is. The higher the SEER rating, the more expensive the AC or heat pump will be upfront, but the less you’ll pay for monthly energy bills over time. Colorado’s minimum required SEER rating is 13, but some air conditioners and HVAC systems have ratings as high as 25 SEER. To determine which SEER rating is best for you, you’ll want to discuss your cooling needs and budget with a professional.
  • Size The size of the AC or heat pump you need for your home will depend on many factors that need to be assessed by a professional during a Manual J. Load Calculation. Installing the wrong size AC or heat pump could result in numerous expensive issues, so it’s essential to hire a professional to perform this test before installing either system.

Want a Colorado professional to help you pick the right cooling system for your home?

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With multiple cooling systems to choose from, it can be confusing to trust which one will serve you best. When you consult with one of our cooling specialists, you can count on honest recommendations and upfront pricing to help make your decision easier.

Learn more about the cooling systems we offer by visiting our air conditioner installation and heat pump installation pages.

Luke Cooper
Luke Cooper

Luke Cooper is the General Manager of the Cooper Green team and son of Gary Cooper, owner and CEO of Cooper HVAC. After years in the field, Luke took his talents to management and has helped thousands of Colorado homeowners during hot summers and frigid winters. His decade of experience in the field and guiding the company makes him one of the most knowledgeable individuals in Colorado on HVAC, plumbing, electrical and other home services.

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