Modern wood pellet boilers are an economical, highly-efficient, and convenient choice for heating your small commercial space or home. “Heating local” with Northern Forest pellet retains wealth instead of sending it elsewhere—heating with oil sends 87% of wealth out of the region. Over time, heating with a pellet boiler will reduce your impact on climate change and helps keep forests as forests.

Pellet boilers are virtually seamless replacements for traditional oil-based systems. Minimal changes to the home heating system are required (depending on distribution system), and your oil boiler can remain in place if flue space allows. This graphic from the German Renewable Energy Agency shows a typical installation:

diagram of wood pellet heating system

 

What are the main advantages of modern wood heat?

 

  • Local Economic Benefits: “Heating local” with Northern Forest pellets retains wealth instead of sending it elsewhere (78% of money spent on oil leaves the region) and creates or sustains jobs.
  • Fuel Cost: Premium wood pellets currently cost about 40% less than heating oil.
  • Fuel Resource: The forest resource is renewable and locally available, and provides a more stable source compared to imported fuels traveling through global transportation networks.
  • Consumer Convenience: Modern wood pellet boilers are automatically fed by contained storage bins and refilled by bulk delivery trucks on a regular basis – no pellet handling is involved, and maintenance is minimal.
  • Particulate Emissions: Replacing an outdoor wood boiler or wood stove with a modern pellet boiler dramatically reduces a household’s particulate emissions.
  • Local Pride: Just as consumers have endorsed local food in recent years, they are beginning to understand the value of local heat as well. Many northern communities have a rich forestry legacy and residents feel proud to support it.
  • Carbon Footprint: As discussed below, using wood heat instead of fossil fuels leads to a net reduction in carbon dioxide emissions over time.

 

What are the downsides of heating with pellets, and what’s being done to address them?

  • Burning wood releases air pollutants, but high-efficiency modern systems emit just marginally more particulates than oil or gas heating systems. See below section on air quality.
  • Forest resources are limited. Conservative estimates suggest that only 18.5% of the Northeast could be sustainably heated with wood, but we are nowhere close to that level and the region’s forests are currently growing more than they are being harvested.
  • The carbon impact of wood heat is variable. Accurate carbon accounting must consider factors such as time, land use change, forest management practices, and the type of fuel being displaced by biomass. Biomass can be a low carbon fuel when harvested sustainably from land that is managed well over time, but it’s not guaranteed.