The national Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) enables low-income families to improve the energy performance of their homes. In the state of Utah, the program has meant the installation of 567 Coleman® high-efficiency gas furnaces from Johnson Controls and Coleman HVAC distributor Johnstone Supply during the last 12 months. Responsibility for the program rests with the state’s Division of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), which disperses U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funding to a network of local community action agencies, nonprofit organizations, and local governments that provide weatherization services to eligible families.

Weatherization improvements may include furnace tune-ups, repairs, and replacements; carbon monoxide testing; wall, floor, ceiling, and duct insulation; windows; caulking; door repair or replacement; and weather-stripping.

“But it all begins with an audit,” explained Wade Thompson, Weatherization Program specialist with the Utah DHCD. “We inspect a home inside and out, looking at things like insulation, heating systems, air quality, health and safety concerns, lighting, windows, etc., and then we evaluate our findings using the National Energy Audit Tool (NEAT). This software compares the cost of recommended energy saving measures to the anticipated energy savings that will result. Using those comparisons we determine what steps will be implemented in a particular home.”

After the initial energy audit has been completed and reviewed, work is assigned, with Thompson responsible for ensuring that all of the agency HVAC technicians are properly trained and certified. “In almost every case, heating is considered a necessity and air conditioning a luxury, so the great majority of our work focuses on furnace repairs and replacement,” said Thompson. “Johnstone Supply and the Coleman brand of furnaces, along with many other reputable companies/brands, have contributed to the success of Utah’s WAP.”

Johnstone Supply currently equips Utah’s WAP with two types of furnaces - the Coleman Echelon™ modulating gas furnace with efficiencies up to 98 percent and the Coleman LX 96 percent, two-stage, variable-speed gas furnace. According to Diego Stefani, Coleman regional sales manager, “Johnstone Supply has managed a great relationship with Utah’s WAP, and it’s a huge bonus for Coleman to have our top-of-the-line Echelon modulating 97+ percent furnace as part of the program. This furnace was recently named a Consumers DigestBest Buy, which is very exciting for Coleman and contributes to consumer peace of mind.”

Although Utah can’t mandate which brand of furnace program participants install, it can make recommendations. From Thompson’s perspective (which includes 30 years in the HVAC business), the Coleman brand is a good choice.

“We work with eight local organizations, including government associations, county agencies, and one community action program,” he said. “Some of these organizations use contractors to do the HVAC work and others choose to do the work in-house. In either case, we let them choose the equipment, as long as they follow our general procedures and guidelines for equipment efficiency, commissioning, testing, and safety.

“Drawing on my experience in the industry and the comments I hear from the field, I recommend high-quality, highly efficient, dependable HVAC products. I prefer that our agencies use at least a multi-stage piece of equipment,” he continued. “But, my preference is a fully modulating furnace, like the unit Coleman offers with the electronically commutated motor (ECM). Considering what we do and the payback this unit delivers, I think the modulating furnace does a nice job.”

Apparently those in the field agree, because nearly half of the installations through Utah’s WAP utilize Coleman furnaces. In addition to the efficiency of the Coleman furnaces, Thompson points to the unit’s compact size, its versatility, and ease of installation and service as reasons for the popularity of the equipment. Both the Echelon and LX units feature a compact 33-inch height, multi-position design with minimal conversion requirements, fully supported slide-out blower assembly for easy service access, and ECM variable-speed drives for cooling SEER enhancement, improved comfort with optional airflow delay profiles, and continuous fan options for indoor air quality performance.

“In addition, the Echelon modulating furnace only requires a standard thermostat to operate,” said Stefani. “This eliminates the need for special, more expensive thermostats. What’s more, the fact that the furnace modulates, means it is able to maintain temperatures within 0.5 degrees of setpoint, ensuring the maximum in comfort and eliminating temperature swings that are typical of a single-stage product.”

“The many features and benefits of the Coleman product influence my recommendation and the success we’re experiencing in the field. But a lot also has to do with Johnstone Supply,” Thompson added. “The technical and customer support that Johnstone offers its customers is absolutely stellar. Any time we have questions or challenges with an installation, I know we can depend on them to have someone on-site, to provide help wherever and whenever we need it.”

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Publication date:07/11/2011