Heat Pump vs. Furnace in Colorado | Which is Better?

February 22, 2022

Are you looking to invest in a new heating system for your Colorado home?

If so, you might be wondering which type of heating system is most suitable for your area: a heat pump or a furnace.

While many Colorado homeowners have a gas furnace to heat their home, others are completely satisfied with their heat pumps. So, which is the best choice?

Unfortunately, there isn’t one straightforward answer as to which system is better. That’s because you’ll need to consider your heating preferences and your budget before you make a decision, along with a few other factors, including:

  • Your access to natural gas
  • Whether or not you have an AC
  • Upfront and operating costs

To help you determine which system is best for you, we’ll take a look at each of the factors above in greater detail.

But first, let’s go over the difference between a heat pump and a furnace and how Colorado’s climate plays a role in selecting one over the other.


Want to speak to an HVAC professional to help you decide which system is best for you? Contact Cooper Heating & Cooling for an estimate on your furnace installation or heat pump installation today! At Cooper, we proudly offer FREE estimates, 100% customer satisfaction, a 1-year renewable labor warranty, and more.

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Heat Pumps vs. Furnaces In Colorado

The main difference between a heat pump and a furnace is that a heat pump has the ability to heat and cool your home, while a furnace can only heat your home. That means, a heat pump can act as both your heater and your air conditioner, but a furnace will need to be paired with an AC in order to cool your home in warmer months.

Heat pumps don’t create heat like furnaces do, they transfer heat, making them more efficient in climates with moderate temperatures.  In the winter, heat pumps absorb heat from the outdoor air and move it inside to warm up your home. That said, outdoor temperatures significantly impact the efficiency of heat pumps. Although heat pumps can pull heat from the air even in incredibly low temperatures, it takes more energy to do so, making them less efficient than furnaces in places where the weather is really cold.

Although Colorado is known for its altitude and proximity to the snowy mountains, residents actually enjoy a pretty mild climate year-round. The average annual temperature is 43.5° F. However, it’s not uncommon to have below freezing days and nights in Colorado.

That being said, heat pumps and furnaces are both great options for Colorado homeowners. In certain scenarios, heat pumps can be the most cost-effective option, and in other scenarios, heat pumps may cost more to operate during colder months. Keep reading to find out more…

Your Access to Natural Gas

If you don’t have access to natural gas, then a heat pump is your best option. That’s because most furnaces run on gas and heat pumps run on electricity. (Note: you can install an electric furnace, but as natural gas tends to be cheaper, an electric furnace is more expensive.)

In Colorado, it’s very rare for homes to not have access to a gas line, but if yours doesn’t, then your choice is easy.

If you have access to both natural gas and electricity, you can opt for a dual-fuel system. A dual-fuel system pairs an electric heat pump with a gas furnace and alternates between the two fuel sources to maximize comfort and efficiency. To heat your home in temperatures as low as 32°, this system will use the heat pump. Once the temperatures drop lower, the heat pump will switch to the gas furnace, allowing you to enjoy the lower operating costs of a heat pump without the high price of backup resistance heating.

Whether or Not You Have an AC

While it may seem unrelated at first, whether or not you have an air conditioning system, as well as its condition, can impact your choice when deciding between a heat pump and a furnace.

If you have a brand new cooling system: Purchasing and installing a heat pump is more expensive than purchasing and installing a furnace or air conditioning system alone. So, if you have a new AC system that’s in good condition and is working efficiently and you’re strictly in the market for a new heating system, installing a furnace is likely the most cost-effective option.

If you don’t have an AC: If you don’t have an air conditioning system, then a heat pump would be a great option since it can double as both a heater and a cooling system.

Upfront and Operating Costs

Typically, heat pumps cost more to install than furnaces.

In Colorado, the average cost to install a heat pump is $8,000+, while the average cost to install a furnace is closer to $6,000. Installation costs for both systems will vary on a variety of factors, including:

  • The size of the system
  • The system’s efficiency
  • Any required ductwork modifications
  • And more

As far as operating costs, gas furnaces are less expensive to operate than a heat pump in Colorado. That’s because gas prices are much lower in Colorado than in other states.

Heat pumps are designed to use less energy than other systems. However, in super cold temperatures, heat pumps rely on “backup heating” which is much more expensive than gas heating. In the long-term, gas furnaces offer lower monthly heating costs than an electric heat pump.


Since 1978, Cooper Heating & Cooling Has Been Here for Trusted Heating System Installations.

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For more than 40 years, the Cooper Green Team has helped Coloradans keep energy bills low, avoid expensive repairs, and extend the lifespan of their furnaces, heat pumps, boilers, and more. 

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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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