Office manager Kim Halsema, pictured with Bryantman, is thrilled with her new Hybrid Heat system, which is saving her money on her utility bills.

One of the main benefits of attending trade shows is that manufacturers usually display their latest products that may not yet be available to the general public. It’s fun to get behind the wheel of a prototype car or push the buttons on a new thermostat.

For a heating and cooling equipment dealer, it’s even more exciting when a manufacturer asks you to install a new, high-end, technologically advanced product that hasn’t been seen outside the factory walls. That’s what happened to Dave Russell, owner of Earl Russell Heating and Cooling Inc., Zionsville, Ind., when Bryant asked the long-time dealer to install several of its new Evolution™ Plus 95s™ modulating gas furnaces.

As a factory-authorized Bryant dealer who is well-known for his many installations of deluxe equipment, Russell seemed to be the natural choice to do the test installations. Earlier this year, he installed the 355S modulating furnace in six homes as part of the manufacturer’s test program. Each recipient of a new furnace had to be a Bryant employee, whether in the factory or at a dealer or distributor. Russell’s office manager Kim Halsema happily signed up to have the equipment installed in her home. She is now looking forward to being more comfortable this winter while saving money on her energy bill.


All six of the modulating furnaces that Russell installed were paired with heat pumps. Russell noted that he is selling more of these Hybrid Heat™ combinations due to the increasing price of natural gas. The climate in Indiana is also moderate for much of the year, so the heat pump can provide most of the heating during shoulder seasons (autumn and spring).

Halsema is especially happy about her new arrangement, because she lives in a more rural area and does not have access to natural gas. “We have to use propane, and the prices have continually gone up over the last three or four years,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense to have propane as the primary heat source, so we should be able to use the heat pump a good portion of the time and save a lot of money.”

All of the modulating furnaces Russell installed as part of the test program replaced existing equipment. Halsema’s furnace dated back to 1982, and although it was working properly, she knew about the modulating technology and was excited with the prospect of saving money on her energy bill.

The other houses that received the furnace ranged in size from 2,000 to 3,000 square feet, and their existing equipment was from one to 20 years old. All the units were installed with an Evolution control; five were installed with a single-speed heat pump, while the sixth received a two-speed heat pump. Five furnaces were installed with a media air filter and one was installed with a Bryant Perfect Air air purifier. Three homeowners also wanted bypass humidifiers, and one desired zoning.

The common denominator to all these retrofits is their ease of installation, said Russell. “The 355S gas furnaces have the same cabinet size as Bryant’s other 90-percent gas furnaces, so that made the installation of the new furnaces familiar to our installers. I really like that the new furnaces utilize the components we are already familiar with, and the Evolution control makes setup very easy.”

The furnace is also easy to service thanks to its enhanced communication, which controls more than 83 system diagnostic points. If components need to be replaced, the unit shares common parts with the manufacturer’s existing furnaces.


Homeowners will also appreciate the many features of the modulating furnace, said Russell. “I believe the first thing customers will notice is how quiet the new furnace is. Elimination of hot and cold spots in the home and lower utility bills will be appreciated as well. What’s really nice about the furnace is that it more closely matches the needs of the home at varying outdoor temperatures.”

In fact, that’s one of the main benefits of a modulating furnace: It prevents extreme fluctuations in temperatures. Compared to a single-speed furnace that runs at one pace until reaching the desired temperature, the modulating furnace automatically switches between speeds to keep the home consistently warm. It ensures a constant temperature that stays within tenths of a degree of the homeowner’s thermostat setting.

Another benefit is that the Plus 95s gas furnace can save up to $345 annually when compared to a single-stage furnace, and the equipment qualifies for current federal tax credits. Better IAQ is also something homeowners are sure to notice. By running on a low stage for longer periods of time (as opposed to switching on and off on high), the modulating furnace provides more air filtration.

Halsema said she is pleased with her new equipment, noting that she likes how quiet the furnace is and how comfortable she and her family have been since the furnace was installed in April. Everyone else must be happy with their new furnaces, too, because no one has called to report problems. “We haven’t heard anything back from any of the customers,” said Halsema. “I have not had one call where they’ve been unhappy or had issues. That’s been really nice.”

Russell said he is excited about offering the new furnaces to his customers, and he will finally have that opportunity this month, when the equipment will be available to the public. “This will be the new, top-of-the-line furnace that we will offer to our customers,” he said. “We live in an affluent community and have customers who just want the very best products we can offer them. They don’t worry quite as much about price points as they do about comfort and reliability. It’s great that we now have a cutting-edge product to offer them.”

Publication date:11/19/2007