A clean, cheap and carbon neutral way to heat your home – sounds good. Its a reality for thousands of families and businesses in Europe and North America.
Pellet boilers are growing in popularity; with grants and incentives offered by various states and governments – often in the form of financial assistance towards equipment and installation, depending on location. Ecoheat Solutions, a pellet boiler provider, have put together a summary of incentives for US based consumers here.
Incentives vary by state, but there are options for either residential or commercial boilers. For example the state of New Hampshire offers 40% up to $10,000 towards equipment and installation providing the home has been heated by fossil fuels up to this point. For commercial purposes, the grant available rockets up to a potential $65,000 towards equipment and installation. The state of Vermont offers up to $2,000 towards equipment and installation for both residential and commercial properties providing that the boiler reduces fossil fuel usage. In New York, awards of up to $16,000 for residential properties are available dependent upon the size of the unit being installed. Commercial properties could receive up to $200,000 again dependent upon size.
If you’re located outside of the US do not despair – grants and incentives are available in a range of countries. Germany have a variety of incentives available for pellet boilers in residential properties with a minimum grants of between €3,000-3,500 for installation and equipment costs. Additional subsidies are also available if for instance the boiler is installed alongside a solar collector system or a heat pump or connected to a heating network. The ENOVA grant scheme in Norway allows a maximum refund of 10,000 Norwegian Krone for installation and components.
The UK has the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive program. This is a government funded initiative which gives its participants quarterly payments for 7 years based on the amount of renewable heat their system produces. There is also a Non-Domestic scheme in place. Both schemes have different incentives and rules to abide by in order for participants to remain on the scheme. These rules include using the fuel type specified in the relevant emissions certificate and operating the boiler as outlined in the manufacturer’s guidelines. More information for applicants can be found here.
Why a pellet boiler?
Pellet boilers function exactly like an oil or propane burner with fully automatic operation. The only difference being instead of oil, wood pellets are being used as the fuel. Pellets are a cleaner source of fuel, being completely carbon neutral. The reason for this is that for every tree burned as pellets, another tree is planted to take up the carbon released. Not only this but wood pellets are readily available in North America and Europe – a local renewable fuel source. This not only bolsters the local economy but pellets are also much less volatile than oil or propane. Pellets are also much cheaper than fossil fuels – try 60% cheaper. One pellet boiler owner cited a saving of upwards of $1,500 per year on fuel – you can watch the full video of their boiler experience here.
There are a couple of downsides to pellet boilers. Fuel tends to be a little bulkier to store than oil and the ash bin(s) from the boiler need to be emptied every month or so. However, due to this ash by-product containing natural minerals, it can be spread on lawns, gardens or back into the woods; acting as a mineral fertiliser. Some pellet boilers also have motors, just like a pellet stove, and so some noise can be heard. However if the boiler is housed in a boiler room or basement, the noise levels can be much reduced.
The upfront cost of a pellet boiler is also higher than an oil fuelled counterpart. Depending on the model chosen; average prices for a pellet boiler come in at around $15,000 compared to a more conservative $10,000-12,000 for a fossil fuel boiler. However, with the pellet fuel being much cheaper in comparison (and don’t forget those state grants), the long run savings will more than make up for the initial investment.
What’s the difference between a pellet boiler and a pellet stove?
These two terms can sometimes be used interchangeably because they use the same fuel, but there is a fundamental difference between the two. Pellet stoves are room appliances, meaning they heat the room they are in. Of course, depending on the size of the house, this could be an ample heat source (tiny houses I’m looking at you). A pellet boiler however, replaces an oil boiler and is connected to a heating system and so is more suitable for larger houses and commercial properties.