With Rising Energy Costs, Homeowners Turn to Renewable Fuel for Heat
Many homeowners looking for a wide range of cheap stoves for sale are choosing a new alternative for heat. Wood pellet stove inserts or a pellet stove fireplace is environmentally friendly and great money savers.
Every winter, homeowners face the frustrating question, “How can I afford to heat my home this year?” These homeowners are turning in increasing numbers to the money-saving option of a wood pellet stove fireplace and fireplace pellet stove inserts. Pellet stoves have been around since the eighties, but only recently gained popular attention.
What is a Pellet Stove Fireplace or Pellet Stove Inserts?
Pellet stoves can be stand-alones in the corner of a room, or inserts fitting into an existing fireplace. These stoves heat a home by burning compressed pellets of sawdust. People who want to move away from fossil fuels, propane, natural gas, and escalating prices can try out a completely renewable source of energy. In fact, these pellets are waste from furniture or timber manufacturers that would’ve otherwise ended up in a landfill.
Advantages of Pellet Stoves Verses Fireplaces and Wood Burning Stoves:
- Savings – Clay Dennis readily affirms the claim that pellet-burning stoves are an economical alternative. “I heat the downstairs of my home for roughly $60 a month,” he says.
- User Friendly Features – The pellet stoves are remarkably user friendly. When operating a fully automated stove, the user fills the stove with pellets and switches it on. From there, the stove lights itself, feeds pellets into its flame and adjusts fuel supply based on its own thermostat.
- Consistent heat – Mr. Dennis explains, “When you use a wood stove, you fill it, and hope for the best. But the pellet stove will feed itself or choke back based on a preset thermostat. You’re getting much more of a consistent temperature.”
- Increased safety – “All combustion devices have inherent dangers,” Mr. Dennis warns. “The glass doors on a pellet stove are going to be hot, but you can touch other areas of the stove without risking a serious burn. There are also safety mechanisms built into pellet stoves that wood stoves don’t have. If the stove reaches unsafe temperatures, the door isn’t shut tightly, or a blower fails to work, the whole stove shuts down and a code on the keypad informs the user of the problem. Of course, people should use screens or gates to insure the safety of their family, but compared to a wood stove or open fireplace, a pellet stove is definitely safer.”
- Environmental benefits – Burning wood pellets is carbon neutral. Because pellet stoves are so efficient, there is virtually no smoke or creosote produced. Mr. Dennis comments, “A wood stove ten years ago generated 50 to 60 grams per hour of particulate matter into the atmosphere. Today, all new wood stoves have to be rated at 7.4 grams or less. But a pellet stove puts out on average fewer than one gram of particulate matter per hour.” Pellet stoves also help the environment by transforming waste into heat energy. Mr. Dennis remarks, “Advanced energy stoves are being designed to burn materials like saw grass, peach pits, sunflower seeds, and even kudzu.”
- Easy installation – Since pellets contain far less moisture than wood, and because of the stove’s combustion mechanics, pellet stoves burn extremely hot. This means they’re able to convert a large percentage of the fuel directly into heat energy. In fact, so much heat is extracted that a pellet stove doesn’t need a masonry chimney. It can be installed anywhere requiring only a tin liner to vent exhaust through a wall. This makes pellet stoves good candidates for apartments or urban settings where wood stoves are impractical.
Disadvantages of a Pellet Stove or Fireplace Insert
- Start-up cost – Mr. Dennis who owns a stove store in Leeds, estimates, “Start up costs including a year’s supply of pellets, a flu pipe, installation, and tax will be between three and five thousand dollars. Despite the large investment, Mr. Dennis advises customers to be wary of prices that seem too good to be true. “We primarily sell either American or Canadian made stoves,” he says. “We don’t recommend any Chinese made products—we just don’t. The computer modules, blowers, and thermostats of a pellet stove are fairly complex. If you buy a cheap stove, the maintenance will cost you more in the long run than investing in a well-built stove that’s designed to run 24-7.
- Storage – The pellets come in 40-pound bags. Typically they are sold by the pallet. This means pellet stove users bring home a year’s supply amounting to fifty bags all at once. The cost for the pallet $120 to $200 isn’t so much an issue as a place to unload one ton of pellets.
- Electricity – Since pellet stoves require electricity to run their blower, they’re not an ideal source of heat in the event of a power outage. Mr. Dennis describes ways to get around this problem in an emergency. “Pretty much everything except the igniter will operate on twelve volts. So, you could actually use a boat battery, small generator, or backup battery for a laptop to power the pellet stove for a while.”
Whether motivated by environmental reasons or the high cost of heat, thousands of people are weighing the pros and cons of pellet stoves and fireplace inserts. As evidenced by growing waiting lists, the promise of an inexpensive and inexhaustible fuel supply has tipped the scales in favor of pellet stoves for many consumers.