If you’ve been using natural gas, propane, or oil to stay cozy during cold weather, consider switching to a wood heating system. You can opt for whole pieces of wood or easy-to-buy pellets. Biomass boilers — which use natural wood — come in several different styles, making them a good fit in many different house styles. For residential use, the primary options for boilers are those that heat with either wood pellets or cordwood, also known as firewood.
Heating with wood offers many advantages, from independence and cost savings to a lower carbon footprint. Let’s explore everything wood fuel has to offer.
Pros of Heating Your Home With Wood
Heating your home with wood comes with a long list of benefits, including:
1. Lower Fuel Costs
For many people, using wood fuels is the best way to save on heating costs. Wood pellets use low-value wood that might otherwise go to waste, making them exceptionally affordable. Better still, if you harvest your own wood, you can virtually eliminate heating costs.
Today’s high efficiency boilers can generate more heat with less fuel, and the wood is locally sourced, which helps reduce transportation costs. To use wood fuels is to shop locally. Whether using wood pellets or cordwood, money spent on wood fuels stays in the local economy, benefiting your community.
While no industry is immune from ups and downs, wood fuel pricing is far less volatile than oil and gas pricing. Cordwood is unique in that it is available from a large number of sources or even right from your backyard. Wood is almost always available, even in an emergency. There is great satisfaction from having a winter’s worth of energy stored and ready for use. With cordwood, your home’s heating can be entirely independent of other energy providers.
3. Environmental Friendliness
Using wood products for heating is much better for the planet than non-renewable fossil fuels for several reasons:
They’re good for forests: Harvesting low-value wood helps wooded areas, working like weeding a garden. Forests with straight and healthy trees are highly valued and tend to remain as forests rather than being developed or turned into cropland. Healthy forests are more resilient to climate change and invasive pests.
High efficiency: Modern wood-burning systems are exceptionally efficient in making the most of every piece of wood you put in. Today’s wood burning boilers are EPA Certified and produce very small quantities of particulates.
They don’t require heavy processing or transit: Many other fuel sources, like natural gas, must be refined or come with emissions-producing processes like mining as well as emissions from leaks and spills. Wood products have minimal processing by comparison, come from local sources, and are non-toxic.
4. Stable Fuel Prices
Oil and gas prices are at the mercy of global financial speculation, war, weather interruptions, and a host of other influences, frequently spiking and dipping, especially in the winter months when you need them most. Wood prices, however, are much more stable. If you’re harvesting wood from your own property, you can be in near complete control of your heating costs.
Cons of Heating Your Home With Wood (Automatic Wood Pellet Boilers are Very Different from Cordwood Boilers)
Wood pellet boilers are almost completely automated and require very little human interaction. They are quiet and almost forgettable. For instance, our Fröling pellet boilers have automated cleaning systems to virtually eliminate manual cleaning. Fuel is delivered by a tanker truck, so no fuel handling is necessary. Installing the right heating system can help you dramatically reduce any time commitment.
Cordwood boilers do require more time for wood handling and cleaning. Here are some drawbacks to heating homes with cordwood.
Getting your fuel from the grid or a delivery service doesn’t require much work on your part, but burning wood may require loading the unit, starting a fire and cleaning it out. If you want to process firewood yourself, you’ll also need to consider the equipment, time, and effort it requires.
2. Storage Space
You must store wood fuel in a dry location. Wood needs several months to dry, ideally in a well ventilated spot that is exposed to the sun. If you have a smaller space or you can’t keep the wood protected, storage could be a challenge.
Although wood fuel is usually easy to find, you still need to make sure it’s not only available but dry when you need it, so advanced planning is essential.
4. Upfront Costs for Equipment
Heating your home with wood is an investment. The initial equipment may have a high initial price tag, but federal and state tax credits can help make it more affordable.
Types of Wood Heat Options Available
Wood fuels for home heating usually come in one of three forms:
Cordwood: Cordwood boilers use split or whole pieces of firewood, sometimes ordered as a large unit called a cord, which is a stack of wood 4’x 4’ x 8’ or 128 cubic feet. If you would like to produce the fuel needed to heat your home, you’ll be dealing with cordwood/firewood.
Wood pellets: Wood pellets are made of very small pieces of compressed wood waste. They don’t contain any additives and the pellets are ¼” in diameter and about 1” long. Wood pellets for home heating are generally purchased by the ton either in 40 lb bags stacked on a pallet or delivered in bulk by tanker truck through a 4” hose.
Both of these fuel products are efficient and affordable. The choice usually comes down to your preferences and needs. One may be better than the other, depending on whether you have access to cheap firewood if you want automated features, how much space you have to store fuel, your budget, and other factors.
Our team is well-versed in determining which kind of wood heating is right for your home. We’d be pleased to walk you through the decision and offer our expertise.
Why Buy an Indoor Boiler?
Wood and wood pellets can be used in a few different heating systems, including forced hot water, forced hot air, and in stoves for smaller spaces. For the greatest comfort and versatility, we find that boilers are the best option. While all three heating systems generate heat, only a boiler can provide heat for space heating and domestic water.
Wood and wood pellet stoves use air to heat your home, and they’re usually confined to specific rooms. The heat from stoves often can’t reach far corners of a house. A boiler transfers heat from the burning wood into the water and sends it on to the central heating supply in the building. It heats your domestic water for use in sinks and showers and works alongside radiators to send warmth into every corner of your home.
Boilers also have the advantage over furnaces, which use air to warm up a home. Water doesn’t lose heat as easily as air, so water is a great medium for heat transfer. The heat carrying capacity of water allows for more remote installations of boilers, such as in out-buildings or attached structures such as workshops. Forced hot water heat is quiet and doesn’t move allergens and dust around a home to the same degree. Some homes are already built for heating with forced hot air. That’s no problem. With the help of a heat exchanger, boilers can also heat air. A wood boiler can replace a wood furnace, but a furnace can’t replace a boiler.
Indoor wood boilers offer a convenient, affordable and eco-friendly way to increase energy independence.
Choose a Wood Boiler From Tarm Biomass Today
If you’re ready to reduce energy costs and your carbon footprint, turn to the pros. Tarm Biomass is a leading provider of wood-burning boilers in North America. We help residents implement effective systems for burning wood with some of the best boilers from across the pond. European innovation now heats homes of all types thanks to Tarm Biomass.