Furnaces help keep you warm on cold winter days. Heat pumps can help keep you warm in winter and cool in summer but don’t work well in subzero temperatures. Which one is best for you? There are benefits and limitations to each.

What Is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump transfers heat inside and outside your home. Unlike a furnace, it doesn’t create its own heat. It consists of an outdoor unit, which houses a coil and a fan. The coil works as a condenser in cooling mode and as an evaporator in heating mode. The fan blows the air over the coil to transfer heat.

The indoor unit also has a coil and fan, but they work the opposite way. The coil works as an evaporator in cooling mode and as a condenser in heating mode. The fan blows air over the coil and through the ducts into your home.

Refrigerant absorbs and rejects heat and transfers it through the system. The compressor pressurizes the refrigerant, which helps it move through the system.

The reversing valve switches between heating and cooling modes, and the expansion valve regulates refrigerant flow and allows for reduced pressure and temperature.

The most common type of heat pump is air-to-air although there are also geothermal and water-to-air systems. These two systems generally cost more upfront but may work better in colder climates.


Heat pumps are incredibly energy-efficient because they require very little electricity to operate. They can last up to 15 years when properly maintained. They are also very versatile. They reduce humidity, enhance the quality of the air inside your home and provide you with heated and cooled air.


Heat pumps have to work harder to keep you warm when the temperature drops below freezing. This lowers their efficiency and increases your energy bill.

Heat pumps may have a higher up-front cost compared to furnaces.

If your electricity goes out and you don’t have a generator or solar panels, your heat pump won’t work.

Repair and Maintenance

There are several maintenance steps you can take to keep your heat pump working at peak efficiency. Make sure the outside unit is clear of debris, snow and ice. Change the air filters once a month. Clean the coils when they get too dirty. If you do not feel comfortable doing this, call one of our expert technicians to help.

When something goes wrong with your heat pump, it’s important to call in a professional to repair it. Heat pumps can develop refrigerant leaks, which will cause them to work too hard and may cause damage to the system. It can also raise your energy bills. Likewise, if the reversal valve gets stuck, you may experience cool air in the winter or hot air in the summer.

You can tell there’s a problem with your heat pump if it makes noises like grinding, hissing, or gurgling.

What Is a Furnace?

A furnace creates heat and distributes it around your house. It has four main parts: burners, heat exchangers, a blower and a flue. The burners deliver and burn the fuel if you have a gas or oil furnace. The ignition and pilot light help start the process. The heat exchangers help warm up the air. The blower distributes the air through your ductwork. The flue is an exhaust that takes the gaseous byproducts out of your house. Furnaces can run on propane, oil, natural gas or electricity.


Furnaces are better for colder temperatures and can provide fast, even heating throughout your home. If you give them the right care, they can last up to 20 years. Furnaces usually cost less to install than heat pumps.


Furnaces need some kind of fuel to work. They are only good for heating your home, so you will need to buy a separate cooling system and dehumidifier if necessary.

Furnaces blow air around, which means if they are dirty, your indoor air quality will decline. They also produce drier air, so they may cause dry skin and static electricity.

Repair and Maintenance

We will vacuum the interior, lubricate moving parts, and clean filters when we perform annual maintenance on your furnace. We will also clean the flame sensor with sandpaper and test your furnace to make sure everything is working. If any parts are too worn, we will replace them.

If your furnace is on but isn’t producing heat, it may mean the air filters need cleaning. Another cause may be a malfunctioning thermostat.

It’s also essential to clean your ductwork regularly to prevent dust and other debris buildup from causing your furnace to break down. This will also help lessen the dust in your air.

Over time, the heat exchanger may develop cracks from the changes in temperature. This can lead to dangerous carbon monoxide build-up in your home.

In gas furnaces, the pilot light may malfunction, and in electric furnaces, the electrical ignition may fail. This causes your furnace to not turn on.

Scraping sounds can indicate worn blower ball bearings. High-pitched squeals mean the blower belt needs replacing.

A short circuit or tripped breaker could result from the furnace drawing power directly from your circuit board. This happens when there’s a damaged blower capacitor.

The limit switch detects the temperature in your furnace and tells the blower fan when to turn on and off. If it gets worn or damaged, it may cause your furnace to overheat. If you notice your furnace is constantly running, it may be a good idea to let us come check it out to prevent more damage from occurring.

Thermostats can also develop issues that make your furnace not run correctly, and musty smells coming from your vents may mean mold or allergens are growing in your ducts. If you smell rotten eggs, it indicates a gas leak. Turn your gas off and call us immediately if that happens.

Plus, a clogged drain pan can trigger the safety switch to turn your furnace off.

Working Together

Sometimes, it may be beneficial to have both a gas furnace and a heat pump. This is known as a dual-fuel system. The heat pump can work during milder temperatures, and the gas furnace will kick in when the temps drop. In places like Colorado, this may be the most efficient and effective option. Depending on the season and outdoor temperatures, the system is set up to automatically switch between whichever unit can work more efficiently. Hybrid systems can last between 20 and 25 years when properly maintained.

Heating Experts in Denver

Here at Jim Needham Heating Cooling Plumbing and Drain, we know the value of hard work. We are family owned and operated and treat our customers like family. We have over 30 years of industry experience and constantly strive to improve. Our expert technicians arrive on time and do things right the first time. We offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee and are confident we can deliver all your HVAC and plumbing needs. Whether you require a new shower, water heater or HVAC system, we’ve got you covered!

Contact Jim Needham Heating Cooling Plumbing and Drain for more information about our heat pump installation and furnace installation in Denver today!

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