Residential biomass boilers have recently taken over as the new efficiency king. These A-rated boilers offer excellent value for the money and are environmentally friendly, mainly when used with current incentives such as the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) or the Green Homes Grant Scheme.
Here, we will explore the ins and outs of biomass boilers to help you decide whether a biomass boiler is right for you.
What Is a Biomass Boiler?
Like the conventional gas boilers you are likely familiar with, biomass boilers provide hot water and space heating for the entire house by burning sustainably sourced wood pellets instead of gas or oil.
Since the carbon dioxide released during burning is absorbed while the tree is growing, using wood instead of fossil fuels helps prevent long-term climate change.
How Does a Biomass Boiler Work?
Biomass boilers burn fuel to produce heat, which is then used to heat water. However, unlike gas boilers, biomass models burn wood pellets rather than gas, and a larger boiler is required to accommodate the more significant amount of fuel.
Some biomass boilers feature an automatic feed hopper, which will take up more space. A hopper holds a significant amount of the wood pellets, which are automatically fed into the boiler as needed. As a result, the boiler requires very little refuelling.
Cost of a Biomass Boiler
The initial cost of a biomass boiler can be quite expensive, however the savings over time make them a much better investment. Additionally, biomass boiler installers should be able to use pre-existing pipes to integrate a biomass pellet boiler with your current central heating system.
Installing a biomass boiler costs about £9,000 for a property of average size. However, a biomass boiler can reduce your annual fuel costs by up to £600 compared to traditional electric heating. Grants are also available for biomass boilers.
For an average home with an annual heating output of 25,000 kWh, the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme qualifies biomass boilers for earnings of £1,500 per year.
What Type of Biomass Boiler Should You Install?
A pellet boiler is perfect for an urban home, but bigger properties could benefit from installing a larger or more complex system. The tradesperson installing the biomass boiler will advise you on which boiler will work the best for your home and requirements. It’s challenging to say which renewable heating system works best because each biomass system has benefits and drawbacks.
You will undoubtedly want a typical biomass boiler that isn’t too different from your current system; this will make the change easier. However, you must consider multiple factors to get the desired result:
Wood chip boilers frequently take up the most space; they are suitable if you have a sizable property and installation space. A pellet boiler, on the other hand, will take up less room because of its smaller size while still being able to heat a room just as effectively.
Unfortunately, these systems are usually larger than their gas and oil alternatives, so if you’re looking to install a renewable heating system in your home, you’ll probably be looking for an average-sized biomass boiler that won’t feel cramped in the space available.
This size difference, though, isn’t always significant and doesn’t preclude an installation, especially with the advancement of wood pellet boilers into practical heating systems in contemporary buildings.
This is one area in which biomass heating truly shines! You can expect an efficiency of 80% and higher, which is frequently greater than a boiler powered by regular gas! The amount of heat flow and insulation in your home and the size of the space to be heated will both have a small impact on the efficiency of a newly installed boiler. Logs and pellets are advised for maximum efficiency as they produce the best heating results.
Benefits Biomass Boilers
- Biomass fuels are regarded as renewable energy sources because the carbon dioxide they emit during combustion is balanced by the carbon dioxide they absorb during growth. When a solid (coal) fired system or electric storage heating is replaced with a wood boiler, significant carbon dioxide emissions savings can be realised, up to 9.5 tonnes annually.
- Less fuel can be saved, and switching from a gas heating system to a wood-burning one may result in higher fuel costs. But if you switch to the cheapest biomass fuel instead of solid fuel or electric heating, you could save between £170 and £390 annually. In a detached home, annual heating and hot water costs are typically in the neighbourhood of £1,000.
- You can efficiently heat your home for no cost if you have a ready supply of logs.
Drawbacks of Biomass Boilers
- With this type of boiler, there are more upkeep requirements; for example, the wood pellets need to be loaded more frequently to ensure they keep producing energy. Additionally, the ash bins must occasionally be emptied.
- To store the fuel at your house, you will need room.
- The cost of wood frequently depends on how far a wood supplier is from your home and whether you can purchase and store large quantities of wood. Owning your supply of wood fuel can drastically cut your expenses.
Biomass boilers are one of the most popular renewable heating systems in recent years. There are many advantages, including carbon-neutral heating and lower operating costs than with standard boilers, and only a few potential disadvantages, including the need for fuel and minor maintenance. Therefore, a biomass boiler is a good option if you’re considering switching to renewable heating.
FAQs about biomass boilers
Are biomass boilers worth it?
Biomass boilers offer an alternative way to heat your home or business using organic materials such as wood pellets, chips or logs.
The main benefit of a biomass boiler is that it is a renewable source of energy, so it helps to reduce your carbon footprint. It is also generally cheaper than other forms of renewable energy such as solar panels or wind turbines.
Biomass boilers can be used to heat both your home and your water. They are usually more expensive to install than traditional gas or oil boilers, but the long term savings on your heating bills can make them very cost effective.
When choosing a biomass boiler, it is important to consider the type of fuel you will be using, the size of the boiler and the efficiency. Biomass boilers are available in a range of sizes to suit different properties.
Are biomass boilers cheaper to run?
The simple answer is yes, they are cheaper to run than traditional gas or oil boilers. Here’s a look at why this is the case.
The first reason biomass boilers are cheaper to run is because they use renewable energy. This means that the cost of the fuel is much lower than traditional fossil fuels. The second reason they are cheaper to run is because they are highly efficient. Biomass boilers can reach up to 97% efficiency, while gas boilers are only around 70-80% efficient. This means that less fuel is needed to produce the same amount of heat, which reduces the overall cost.
Do I need planning permission for a biomass boiler?
The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the type and size of the boiler, its location, and whether it is being installed as part of a new build or renovation project.
If you are planning to install a biomass boiler as part of a new build project, then you will likely need to apply for planning permission. However, if you are planning to install a biomass boiler as part of a renovation project, then you may not need to apply for planning permission, depending on the specific circumstances.
It is always best to check with your local planning authority to see if you need planning permission for your proposed biomass boiler installation.
How long does a biomass boiler last?
This is a difficult question to answer, as there are many factors that can affect the lifespan of a biomass boiler. However, according to most estimates, a biomass boiler should last between 15 and 20 years. Of course, this is just an estimate, and some boilers may last even longer with proper care and maintenance. There are several things that can impact the lifespan of a biomass boiler, such as the quality of the boiler, how often it is used, and how well it is maintained. With proper care and maintenance, a biomass boiler can last for many years.
How much does biomass cost per year?
Biomass is a renewable energy source that can be used to generate electricity, heat, or transportation fuels. The cost of biomass depends on the type of feedstock (the material being converted into biomass), the conversion technology, and the market price of the final product.
The cost of biomass also varies depending on whether it is used as a primary energy source (like coal or natural gas) or as a secondary energy source (like ethanol).