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Wood pellets are a renewable, low-carbon alternative to oil, propane and natural gas, and thousands of Vermonters now use wood pellet stoves to heat their homes.
Demand for wood pellets and cordwood increases when home heating prices are high and there are now more than 100 wood pellet manufacturers in the United States. Vermont's first wood pellet mill began operations in September 2009, and the Energy Co-op of Vermont began delivering these premium quality wood pellets in November 2009 (see below).
Wood pellets are more convenient than cordwood and much more consistent in quality. However, some wood pellets perform much better than others, resulting in wide variances in heat output and maintenance requirements. To address this issue, the Pellet Fuels Institute has established four wood pellet grades; premium and standard are suitable for home heating use.
Some things to consider when buying wood pellets:
- Quality and consistency are more important than whether wood pellets are made from hardwoods or softwoods.
- Look for wood pellets with higher energy content (BTU's/lb.) because they burn hotter. Look for numbers around 8,000 BTU/lb.
- Low ash content means less maintenance. Burning a ton of wood pellets with 0.3% ash content produces six pounds of ash; wood pellets with 1% ash content would produce 20 pounds of ash - more than three times as much.
- Low moisture content means that more energy is used to heat your home instead of evaporating water in the wood pellets.
- Small amounts of fines or dust. These particles are produced during manufacture and can cause performance and maintenance problems.
- How you pay for your pellets. The Energy Co-op of Vermont is alone in offering monthly payment plans to make it easier and convenient for Co-op members to pay for their wood pellet deliveries.
Try before you buy? The Energy Co-op offers a free bag of pellets to new customers so that you can test our pellets in your stove - before buying a ton or more.