13 March 2015, Comments: 0

What is Biomass Heating?

 

Biomass heating systems are slowly becoming the heating systems of choice amongst UK householders. Even within our local area of Telford & Wolverhampton, our customers are increasingly searching out information on renewable energy systems – and in particular Biomass Boilers – in an attempt to make significant savings on their energy bill, take advantage of government schemes and make their households more environmentally friendly.

With that in mind we thought we’d take the time to create this helpful blog post to discuss exactly what biomass heating is, how it works and the pros & cons of biomass heating systems.

 

Biomass Explained

Rather than being powered by gas, oil or electricity, Biomass Boilers are wood-fuelled heating systems which burn wood pellets, chips or logs in order to provide heat to a home’s hot water, radiators and under floor heating (if applicable). The wood fuel is typically fed to the boiler through a hopper. When inside the boiler, the wood fuel is burnt to generate heat. This heat is then passed through to the hot water and radiators in the home to provide the central heating.

Biomass boiler system infographic

 

Advantages of Biomass Heating Systems

With its focus on a more sustainable and renewable energy source, the advantages/benefits of a biomass heating system seem fairly obvious.

  • Eco-friendly

    Biomass heating systems not only use a more environmentally friendly source of fuel compared to gas or oil boilers, their carbon dioxide emissions are also lower. The carbon dioxide emitted when burning wood is only ever equal to the same amount absorbed by the tree during its life. This means that as long as new trees grow in place of the ones being used for fuel, the entire fuel source is completely sustainable.

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  • More efficient energy

    With the use of modern heating technology, Biomass Boilers can achieve an efficiency of over 90%, vastly outperforming other alternatives in gas, oil and electricity. Also, because of a more controllable fuel source, Biomass Boilers ensure there is very little heat and fuel being wasted. Due to their higher energy efficiency, Biomass Boilers can make significant reductions on energy bills. So much so that the Energy Saving Trust claims a biomass system can “save as much as £880 per year” on fuel bills when upgrading from an electrical boiler, with other savings being made when upgrading from oil, LPG, or gas too.

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  • More affordable fuel

    Although biomass heating does not completely remove the cost of fuel entirely, the cost of wood fuel is lower and far more stable than that of gas. This is due to the sheer amount of wood fuel that is produced and exported in the UK. Further savings on energy bills can be made due to stability in the price of wood fuel compared to that of gas or oil.

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  • Financial support

    Wood fuel boiler systems are eligible for benefit from the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) government scheme. Visit our Renewable Heat Incentive page for more info on the scheme.

Biomass boiler living room installation

 

Disadvantages of Biomass Heating Systems

Despite the huge environmental and financial benefits of a Biomass Boiler heating system, it would be unreasonable to think that biomass is an appropriate solution for every household. Due to the size of the systems themselves and the initial set up costs, biomass isn’t always for everyone.

  • Size & scale

    Installing a biomass heating system isn’t a case of simply swapping an existing boiler for one powered by biomass. In addition to any alterations required to your existing plumbing, installation of a Biomass Boiler, fuel storage area and pump/hopper to feed the boiler its fuel is needed. Not only is the size and scale of the whole installation a large undertaking, but the heating system itself is much bigger than standard gas and electric heating systems. As a result, smaller properties may struggle to accommodate.

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  • Installation costs

    Initial installation costs of a biomass boiler heating system can also prove costly when compared to other heating alternatives. The Energy Saving Trust claims a Biomass Boiler installation “costs between £9,000 and £21,000”. Consequently, investing in a biomass heating system should be viewed as a long term investment. However, fuel bill savings and financial support through government schemes such as the Renewable Heat Incentive will help to offset the costs of a Biomass Boiler installation.

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  • Fuel costs

    Although Biomass Boilers run on cheaper fuel compared to gas, oil and electricity, they do not eliminate the cost of fuel altogether unlike other Renewable Energy sources. Using wood fuel to power a boiler still incurs fuel costs whereas other Renewable Energy heating systems are powered by free, natural fuel such as solar and air source.

So, what are the alternatives?

Biomass heating living room installation

 

Alternative Renewable Energy

Air Source Heat Pumps

Air source heat pumps extract the heat from outside air in order to provide heat to your home. Air source heat pumps can lower fuel bills and are eligible under the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive. Visit our Air Source Heat Pump page for more details on our Air Source services.

 

Solar Thermal Panels

Solar thermal panels absorb sunlight from outside in order to heat the water in your home. By decreasing the workload on the boiler, solar thermal panels lower fuel bills and are eligible under the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive. Visit our Solar Thermal Panel page for more details on our solar thermal services.

 

Whether you’re thinking of investing in a biomass heating system, air source thermal pumps or solar thermal panels, we at ePlan Energy Ltd are Renewable Energy experts and we are here to help you plan for the future!

For even more info on Biomass Boilers and our biomass services/packages visit our biomass boilers page. Alternatively, visit our Renewable Energy page for more info on our complete range of Renewable Energy services.

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