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Archive for September, 2014

Home grown heating – why wood pellets beat fossil fuels

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

At the Energy Co-op of Vermont, we are encouraged to see the recent positive trend in the use of wood pellets for heating fuel.  Across the country, there are a wide variety of incentives, rebates and initiatives feeding this trend.  In a rural state like Vermont, where the price volatility of traditional heating fuels like oil and propane can be a real hardship for homeowners , this “home grown” solution is particularly appealing.

Many states are awakening to the benefits of wood pellets, not only for cost savings vs. fossil fuels, but also for lower emission ratings.  Says John Ackerly of the Alliance for Green Heat during an August 6th Biomass Thermal Energy Council webinar, “Residential wood heat has risen dramatically in recent years, especially in Northeast and Great Lakes states, in some cases, by 100 percent… incentive programs are guiding consumer purchasing and steering people to cleaner and more efficient appliances.”  Ackerly added that he sees programs requiring professional installations and home energy audits as additional new trends.

The “secret sauce” of wood pellets is made with ground wood, waste wood, paper, bark and other combustibles and turned  into bullet‐sized pellets that are uniform in size, shape, moisture, density and energy content.  Here’s how the Pellet Fuel Institute describes the benefits of wood pellets:

  • Moisture content of pellets is substantially lower (4% to 8% water, compared to 20% to 60% for cordwood or chips), increasing burn efficiency and allowing for more fuel to be transported in a given truck space, and more energy stored at your home.
  • The density of pellet fuel is substantially higher than cordwood (40 lbs. per cubic foot vs. 23 lbs. for cordwood).
  • Uniform shape and size allows for a smaller and simpler conveying system that reduces costs compared with fossil fuels?
  • Pellet burners feature the lowest particulate matter emissions of all solid fuel burners, and since pellets burn so efficiently (system efficiency averages 80 percent), emissions from pellet burners meet even the most stringent EPA requirements.
  • Once the ash is emptied periodically, it can actually double as a fertilizer.

There are some incentives available to assist Vermonters who are interested in transitioning to wood pellet boilers.  Efficiency Vermont currently has a pellet boiler incentive program which offers rebates to qualifying homeowners who want to replace their oil or propane furnace with a pellet boiler.

In some cases, the transition can be very simple.  Pellergy is able to replace your old oil burner with a new wood pellet burner simply by screwing and unscrewing about six bolts.  In other instances, old oil and propane boilers are replaced by new pellet boilers, like those that Pellergy offers .

There are a lot of good reasons to switch to wood pellet heating systems. Wood pellets can be locally sourced, and are clean-burning, stably priced, and abundant.  Furthermore, if you switch from fossil fuels to wood pellets you can cut your fuel bills by 25% or more every year!

At the Energy Co-op of Vermont, we have been delivering wood pellets to our customers since 2008.  We are proud to feature premium pellets from Vermont Wood Pellet Company which burn hotter and create less ash than other pellets.  The Co-op  is also the only wood pellet provider in Vermont that offers an EASY PAY (replace with Easy Pay) budget payment plan so that our members can spread the cost of their pellet purchases over ten months of the year.

Interested?  Just stop by the Energy Co-op’s office to learn more about our delivery program and pick up your free bag of wood pellets.



Member: Vermont Fuel Dealers Association, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, Renewable Energy Vermont, Local First Vermont

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