Wood Pellet Heating and The Home Owner

Part 2 – Assessing the issues to be considered by the home owner when choosing wood pellet heating

As part of our service we assess requirements and properties to help you choose the right system or boiler for your heating and lifestyle choices.

For this we asked Tom Jacques, an architect and RIBA Client Adviser based in the South West for some comments.

Tom responded with 3 articles the second of which is below.

1.Do you want your pellet boiler to be a feature or hidden away? Some boilers are designed to be part of the living space. Many of these are Italian. For instance MCZ use ceramic, marble and metallic styling to make their boilers attractive as well as a viewing plate on the flames. It may be more straightforward for these sorts of boiler to take advantage of available chimneys.

2.Do you want a large fuel store that will last at least a month and possibly 1 year? If so you may have to construct a separate fuel store. This will need more space and will increase your costs.

3.Do you want minimum maintenance? You can take advantage of features such as automatic cleaning of the grate and heat exchangers. This will increase costs and probably limit you to a choice of Austrian boilers such as Solarfocus.

4.Do you want Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accredited boilers and installers? The MCS scheme is about quality. Making sure that boilers are being made and installed properly. The scheme is government supported and gives access to government support.

5.Do you want access to grants or incentives? The government have introduced a Renewable Premium Payment scheme of £950 for biomass. The Renewable Heat Incentive or similar scheme is expected to be introduced for non domestic buildings in November/December 2011. The domestic RHI is expected to be late Summer/Autumn 2012. If you want to be informed about the scheme, use the contact form and receive updates.

6.Do boilers have different running costs? Each boiler has a different efficiency rating. For instance MCZ boilers are 90-93 percent efficient. Solarfocus boilers are up to 96.8 percent efficient. This is more efficient than a wood burner at between 75 and 85 percent efficient. A buffer or accumulator tank to iron out the peaks and troughs of heating and save fuel is often recommended, alternatively weather compensation may fulfil a similar function.

7.How do you choose wood pellets? Local supply should decrease costs of delivery. Do look at the latest lab reports that the pellet supplier has undertaken, alternatively they may have signed up to a quality assurance scheme operated by Hetas or Woodsure. Some pellets are made as a by product of waste and some from virgin wood. Pellets are much better quality than a few years ago. Your boiler may need to be cleaned by your installer, and in the worst cases it can stop working if pellets are of poor quality. Prices of pellets vary by size of load, distance of delivery, and method of delivery. This could be a lorry “blowing” pellets into a fuel store or a pallet of bags. Current prices are cheaper than oil by about 20p a litre and cheaper than gas by about 0.7p a kWh.

Tom Jacques

Tom Jacques is an architect and RIBA Client Adviser based in the South West.

Alongside interpreting,defining and meeting clients spatial and aesthetic requirements, Tom prioritises environmental design alongside an understanding of building physics, the use of appropriate technology, and the performance of buildings and their systems in use.

He embraces different approaches in different circumstances, and works where possible with specialists in their fields. Many of his projects involve work with listed buildings and in sensitive settings, and where planning and listed buildings consent is required.

He is not a specialist in any particular product or technology, nor a building services engineer, but is able to offer advice and assistance on projects where required.

If you wish to contact Tom, please contact us and we will pass your comments on to him.

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