Sunday, 29 September 2013

Biomass Boilers

UK energy prices are very topical at the moment.  Independent experts expect further above inflation rises in energy prices this winter.  If you don't trust the politicians to sort it out the problem then a biomass boiler could be for you. Biomass boilers offer a potential way to reduce your reliance on big energy companies and of keeping a lid on your energy bills.

How do biomass boilers work?
Biomass boilers can be used in place of a standard gas or oil boiler to provide hot water and heating in your home. Biomass boilers work by burning the wood fuel and then storing the heated water produced, which then feeds into the central heating as required.

"Biomass" refers to living or recently living material such as logs, wood pellets or wood chips.  Some biomass boiler types are fuelled by logs but they are more typically fuelled by wood pellets.

How much energy will a biomass boiler generate?
A domestic biomass boiler generates around 15kW of energy.  This is easily enough energy to heat the water and provide central heating throughout a large home.

What are the advantages of biomass boilers?
A biomass boiler is an ideal technology if you do not have access to mains gas.  A biomass boiler can save you nearly £600 a year compared to electric heating.

Are there any constraints?
The main constraint is space.  Wood and wood pellets are cheaper if bought in bulk. However, you will need space to store the material.   Biomass boilers are typically larger than traditional boilers, so will also require more space.

Whist they may save you money on your energy bills, a good biomass boiler is much more expensive to buy than a conventional boiler.

The market for wood fuel is still in its infancy.  The cost and quality of wood and wood pellets can fluctuate greatly.

Biomass boilers need to be manually feed, log burning boilers in particular will require regular 'topping up'.

What consents will I need before fitting a biomass boiler?
Planning permission is not normally needed when installing a biomass boiler in a house if the work is all internal.

Biomass Boilers will have to comply with the Building Regulations.  Your installer should take into account factors such as ventilation, noise and general safety. The installer should be suitably qualified, preferably one who belongs to either the Microgeneration Certification Scheme or a relevant Competent Person Scheme.

How much does a biomass boiler cost?
Biomass boilers are more expensive than traditional boilers. Expect to pay around £10,000 to £12,000 for a good quality, automatic, wood pellet burning biomass boiler.  This price includes installation. Manually fed log boiler systems will usually be cheaper.

Are there any grants or other funding support available to help pay for a biomass boiler?
The Green Deal scheme may be able to help you pay for the upfront costs of the installation through Green Deal financing.  The installation costs will then be paid back over time, with interest, through your electricity bill.

Your new biomass boiler could earn you money under the Government's Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.

If you do not have access to mains gas and have sufficient space, it is worth considering a biomass boiler.
You could earn money from your new boiler through the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.

Further Information
The Energy Saving Trust website provides advice on finding an installer to meet your requirements.  The Energy Saving Trust recommends that a biomass boiler is installed by an MCS (The Microgeneration Certification Scheme) certified installer.


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