If you want to reduce your home’s dependence on fossil fuels, a biomass stove or boiler is an excellent alternative means of providing heat. Also referred to as wood fuelled or wood heating, biomass systems work by burning organic materials such as logs, chips or pellets. As with heat pumps and solar thermal, biomass systems are eligible for a grant from the Renewable Heat Incentive Premium Payment Scheme.
A wood fuelled heating system like biomass is carbon neutral: although it does produce CO2, roughly the same amount was absorbed by the tree while it was growing. This is further enhanced if your wood is from a nearby location. Biomass stoves and boilers can use different types of fuel as well, including animal waste and industrial by-products.
These are often used as individual heaters for rooms, but it is possible to attach a back boiler for hot water. A stove burns logs or pellets and is often used in conjunction with other heating systems.
A biomass boiler can be used instead of a standard gas or oil boiler to heat the hot water and radiators for a whole house. They burn logs, pellets or, for a larger property, chips.
About the different types of wood fuel
Logs need to be fed in to a stove or boiler by hand, and are needed in large quantities to heat a house. However, they are cheaper than pellets and chips.
Chips are intended for use in large properties, or more than one home. They are not usually used in wood burning stoves.
Pellets are usually used in boilers that run similarly to oil or gas boilers: using an automatic fuel feeder.
What are the costs and savings of biomass systems?
Under the Renewable Heat Incentive Premium Payment Scheme biomass boilers will be eligible for a grant.
Biomass systems are most effective as a means of saving on energy bills as replacements for electric heating systems. You can save somewhere in the region of £500 a year with a wood burning stove or boiler instead of an electric heating system. If you are replacing a gas heating system, the saving goes down to about £100 a year.
Remember to get at least two or three quotes before choosing your supplier and installer.