Efficient Home Heating With Pellet Stoves

Efficient Home Heating With Pellet Stoves

The newest generation of home heating stoves, which burn fuel pellets instead of firewood, can be a great choice for fending off winter’s chilly temperatures.  Pellet stoves are available in a wide range of styles and designs, and they can provide an extremely fuel-efficient source of heat.

Forget about comparing these high-tech models to old-fashioned open fireplaces.  Traditional fireplace designs don’t allow wood to burn very efficiently, causing unnecessary pollution while much of their heat gets wasted up the chimney.  Modern pellet stoves, on the other hand, are 75-90% efficient with particulate emissions up to 5 times lower than even EPA-certified wood stoves.  A cubic foot of pellets also provides up to 5 times more heat output (measured in BTUs) compared to an equal amount of cordwood.
Efficient Home Heating With Pellet Stoves
But what about the carbon footprint of all that burning?  Well, any wood you burn that would have otherwise decomposed is essentially a wash, since all the carbon sequestered in wood is emitted as it decomposes anyway.  The carbon in other fuels like petroleum, however, would simply stay put if it wasn’t burned for fuel.

Pellets contain much less moisture than cordwood, which means they burn hotter and they are lighter to transport.  Homeowners can further reduce their embodied energy by using locally produced pellets whenever possible.  As a bonus, bags of pellets are also generally much more convenient to handle than piles of logs.

Efficient Home Heating With Pellet Stoves
A Pellet Fuel Stove From Harman Stoves

Pellets can be produced from a variety of sources like sawdust, agricultural waste, and even paper waste; some manufacturers only use source wood that has already been killed by disease or pests.  For example, Colorado-based New Earth Pellets manufactures their fuel from pine trees damaged by the invasive Mountain Pine Beetle.

Pellet stoves aren’t perfect for everyone; they are generally more expensive than traditional stoves, and they often require electricity for their circulating fans.  But they can usually be installed with a simple vent (instead of an expensive chimney), and there are pellet stoves to match any room size or decor.  Homeowners may also qualify for rebates or other incentives to help offset the cost of installation, like Vermont’s $500 credit for switching from oil to pellet stove heating.

You can find more information at The Department of Energy’s EnergySavers website.

(via ModernEnviro)

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