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Heat pumps are having a moment in Colorado, but do they really work in the bitter cold? Yes.

There was a touch of anxiety in the home of Jon and Rachel Rea as a bomb cyclone, with its plummeting subzero temperatures, approached Colorado in December, for the couple no longer had a gas-fired furnace in their basement.

They had replaced the furnace three months earlier with a heat pump and now that new gizmo was going to face a major test. The heat pump gathers the slivers of heat lingering in the air even on a cold day, but with temperatures plunging toward 20 below zero would there be any heat left to capture?

The Reas “pre-heated” their Boulder townhouse, raising the thermostat in advance of the storm, and had the advantage of having neighboring homes on each side and new insulation in the basement.

Still, they were uncertain how their Mitsubishi heat pump would fare. The unit was rated to still work at 13 below zero. The temperature in Boulder on the night of Dec. 22 fell to 18 below.

“Overall, it was just another day,” Jon Rea said. “It was not much of an event.”