Tired of paying to fill your oil tank? Is natural gas not an option? One economical alternative is to heat your home by burning wood pellets. The idea is similar to a wood-burning stove, but pellet technology takes advantage of waste products that would otherwise be discarded. You can feel good about recycling and enjoy winter warmth by taking advantage of this home heating method that seems poised to grow in popularity.
The Heating Fuel of Tomorrow
At first glance wood pellets don't look like much, resembling something you might use to line the rabbit cage. But they are cost effective, carbon neutral and more environmentally friendly than burning wood logs or fossil fuels.
More and more households are joining the trend. “It’s going to be one of the big new heating sectors in the near future,” Bram Claeys of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources said to the Barnstable Patriot. Pellet use in the northeastern United States has been on the rise since 2005, and worldwide, production doubled between 2006 and 2010, the Patriot reports.
So what exactly are these little fuel sources? Pellets are made by compressing wood and sawdust waste from paper mills, construction companies and carpenters. The cost of pellets and how many you need will vary depending on where you live, but they will almost always beat the price of electric heating, oil or propane. Buy pellets certified for residential use by the Pellet Fuels Institute to ensure that you are getting the best quality for your money.
Clean and Versatile
Pellet stoves create far less pollution than burning wood logs. Burning wood usually creates a lot of emissions, including particulate matter, which can cause respiratory problems.
Pellet stoves tend to have higher combustion temperatures than wood stoves, so they produce far less pollution overall; the U.S. Department of Energy calls them “the cleanest solid fuel, residential heating appliance.” Since they burn up almost all the solid matter, they also produce little in the way of creosote, reducing your risk of a fire.
Pellet stoves can also be versatile. Depending on what model you buy, your pellet stove might also be able to burn other materials like nutshells, corn kernels and wood chips. Some rocket mass heaters will accept pellets. You can even find pellet-fueled furnaces and boilers to hook up to your duct or radiator system and deliver heat throughout the home.
Pellet stoves do have their drawbacks: they are complicated to repair, require weekly cleaning and need electricity to run some of their components.
If you are thinking about buying a wood pellet stove, the Department of Energy cautions that you consult an expert about what size to get to match your square footage. Too small, and you won't heat your home sufficiently, too large and you will waste fuel and contribute to air pollution. Contact your local HVAC expert today to find out if these stoves are right for you.
If you have question about heating and cooling your home, local One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning® can help. Give us a call — we’re always here to help!