Pellet Stoves: A Biomass Energy Alternative
Recent research covering the North American wood pellet industry shows a strong correlation between high energy costs and consumer interest in alternative technologies such as pellet stoves.
Between 1998 and 2008 wood pellet stove use increased from 114,000 households to 814,000 households. Today's high fuel prices partially explain that continued upward household installation trend.
Technological advances also contributed to the increased use of pellet stoves. In many markets, their improved heating efficiencies provided them with a competitive edge in the home heating market. Their competitive edge builds largely on the logic of using computer programs to control thermostat and fuel delivery settings.
Renewable Energy Resources
Residential pellet stoves range in size and style from larger versions capable of replacing traditional furnaces for the average 2,000 plus square foot home, to smaller, room versions.
Pellets, the generic fuel name, can be produced from many sources, including wood chips, round wood and animals waste. Because pellets contain much less water than even the best seasoned fire-wood, they burn more efficiently, and produce more heat and less smoke and ash than split wood.
Wood pellets, the most common and most efficient of the manufactured biomass fuels today compete with other pellet fuels produced from sources such as corn.
Environmental concerns with the pellet stove industry focus on the current extraction and use of round wood as a source of raw material for pellet production.
In the early stages of industry development, the limited number of wood pellet consumers translated into a stable supply of pellets made from wood industry waste products.
Increases in pellet stove use ultimately translated into increased in wood pellet demand, leading the industry to search for other fuel sources.
Maintenance Tip: Along with pellet stoves, wood stove and fireplace technologies also continue to improve over time.
Whatever the type of wood burning system in use, proper system maintenance insures maximum heating and environmental efficiency.
Experts recommend cleaning fireplaces and chimneys once per year to remove creosote, the tar like build up found in the smoke that attaches itself to the chimney.
Leaks or cracks, especially in wood stoves, can be sealed to keep smoke out of the room and prevent unnecessary air flow into the fire.
Consumers using fireplaces or older wood stoves can also improve their fire wood use efficiency by choosing proper wood. Fire wood, unlike most other wood around the home, is natural wood, cut, split and stored explicitly for heating.
Beware of using chemically treated household lumber products. Typically they have been treated with chemicals to withstand the assaults of weather and insect invasion. When burned, they can emit potentially toxic chemicals.
© 2006-2012 Patricia A. Michaels