Frequently Asked Questions
How Do Modern Wood Heat Systems Work?
On day one, heating with wood has a 50% lower carbon impact than heating with oil or gas. While about 80% of the money spent on oil or gas leaves our region, nearly 100% of money spent on wood fuel remains in our region. Many of our communities have a rich forest legacy, and residents feel proud to support heating with wood. Wood boilers can be integrated into existing central heating systems without distribution system upgrades, although sometimes distribution upgrades can dramatically improve energy efficiency.
No, automated wood heat refers to systems that are controlled by your thermostat, like pellet and wood chip boilers. When you turn up your thermostat, pellets are automatically delivered to the boiler by an auger or vacuum hose. While pellet stoves automatically release pellets to maintain a specified level of heat, pellet stoves don’t hook up to your existing HVAC system and are therefore not considered “automated.”
The answer is typically based on the heating load and the marginal costs to install the equipment. Larger schools often choose wood chips and smaller schools choose pellets. Burning pellets allows smaller equipment, but the fuel is more expensive than chips. Conversely, wood chip equipment takes more space and installation costs more, but the fuel is less expensive. In schools with large heating loads, lower cost fuel can create bigger cost savings over time. The automation of the boiler equipment is similar regardless of fuel type.
Yes! Modern wood heat systems integrate with homes, businesses, and new construction of any size, providing all the heating and hot water you need for bathrooms, kitchens, baseboard, hot air, or radiant floor heating.
Very! Automated wood heat warms your home with the same hands-free convenience you’re used to with your fossil fuel system. The boilers re-fuel, clean, ignite, extinguish, and meet heating needs without human intervention. Ash is removed from an ash box once per month or so. The boilers can be monitored electronically using free, cloud-based software.
Modern wood heat is perfect for anyone who wants to reduce their carbon footprint, keep money in their local economy, and use a sustainable, renewable, clean-burning fuel.
Yes, solar hot water systems can feed into the same hot water tank as your boiler. In some homes and businesses, this can be an attractive way to diversify the energy source, particularly during the summer months. Pellet boilers and furnaces can be part of a building’s total renewable energy package, working in tandem with solar hot water, solar PV, batteries, and even wind.
Cordwood stoves can be a highly effective, affordable way to heat your home, and can even incorporate modern technology to reach high efficiency — earning that modern wood heat title. If you want to heat with a cordwood stove, choose a high-efficiency model and follow best practices, like only using seasoned wood to ensure your system burns as cleanly and efficiently as possible.
How Much Does Modern Wood Heat Cost?
Pellet stoves are a relatively low-cost option to install, costing around $4,000 to displace much (if not all) of your fossil fuel use.
When it comes to automated wood fuel boilers, the initial cost of installation is often higher than conventional oil boilers. But with state and federal incentives, you can more easily make the switch to cleaner, greener modern wood heat. Learn more about rebates and incentives.
Modern wood heating bills are about 30% lower than heating with oil over a five-year average. Plus, wood pellets’ long-term price stability gives homeowners and business owners peace of mind — unlike volatile oil prices.
Yes, pellet stoves are another option. Boasting a smaller footprint and lower installation cost, pellet stoves are an ideal way to heat an area of your home.
Where Do Wood Pellets Come From? How Do I Get Them?
Like oil delivery trucks, wood pellets for automated systems are delivered directly from the mill to your home or business. Removing the need to lug bags of pellets or stack cordwood, these delivery trucks pour wood pellets into your storage unit through a pneumatic hose — costing less than an oil delivery while supporting our communities and our environment.
Wood pellets are made from 100% wood, sourced from sawmill waste and sustainable forestry management projects. Wood particles are compressed into dense, clean burning pellets with no other additives, using the wood’s natural lignin to bind particles together into a solid, BTU-packed pellet.
Most locally sourced wood pellets are made from the all-natural byproducts of regional wood products manufacturers, sawmills, or forest management projects where low-grade wood is removed to create space for healthier trees, to create specific habitat, or as part of a forest harvest. While many think modern wood heat contributes to deforestation, that’s not true in the Northeast. In fact, modern wood heat fuel sourced from New England and New York helps to keep forests healthy, thriving, and here for good.
Want to support our communities? Remember to check the pellet bag or ask your pellet dealer to make sure it’s sourced from local pellet suppliers!
It may seem counterintuitive at first, but heating with locally sourced wood helps to keep Vermont’s forests as forests! Sustainable forest management produces both “high-grade” and “low-grade” wood. Now, all trees are equally special in their own way, but these are important economic terms. “High-grade” wood is also known as “sawtimber,” meaning that it’s wood that will find its way to a sawmill to become a 2×4, a floorboard, a cabinet, or something else that a carpenter could make use of. “Low-grade” wood is wood that might be diseased, crooked, or otherwise not desirable for woodworking or construction and is roughly two-thirds of a harvest.
By far the largest market for low-grade wood in our region has historically been paper, in addition to wood fuels such as firewood and woodchips. As we’ve transitioned into the digital age demand for paper has decreased, creating market stress for this low-grade wood. It is essential to have healthy markets for both high and low-grade wood to be able to execute a sustainable forest management plan and lessen economic pressure on forestland owners to sell to developers..
High-quality wood pellets in modern wood heat systems burn clean, producing very little ash and no visible smoke from your chimney. In fact, boilers are self-cleaning, with an ash-collecting case that needs to be emptied just three times a year by homeowners. And pellet stoves only need to be cleaned every week or two.
Modern wood heat is cleaner than oil and better for the environment, with documented emissions for particulate matter (PM) below 0.1 lbs/MMBtu for total PM — meeting all Environmental Protection Agency as well as New England and New York standards for PM.
Enjoying modern wood heat without using plastic bags is easy; pellets for boilers and furnaces don’t come in bags! These systems are installed with a large hopper or storage area, either inside or out, which is filled with a delivery from a bulk delivery truck. It’s just like getting your propane tank filled. Pellet stove users who want to avoid plastic can also purchase a hopper and simply fill a bucket with the pellets they need for the day.
Yes! Across New England and New York, there are currently 10 pellet mills that can produce nearly 700,000 tons of wood pellets each year — 20% more than they are currently producing. Modern wood heat customers can anticipate a reliable, simple supply chain of pellets from the mill to your home or business.
To ensure you have all the fuel you need to keep you warm all year, consider buying a season’s worth of fuel in the summer!
Ready to Make the Switch?