According to energy.gov, the cost of heating a home accounts for about 42 percent of the home’s utility bill. There are ways however to lower this heating expense using more efficient means – one of these is a pellet stove (in addition of course to excellent insulation, optimal solar orientation, well placed windows, and so on.) Energy.com states that “Pellet stoves that are certified by the EPA are likely to be in the 70% to 83% efficiency range.” They are highly efficient because of the pellets being used and the small amount of particles they emit into the air.
Wood pellets are carbon neutral, renewable fuel, most made from 100% wood – cut-offs, sawdust and shavings without any adhesive additives. (Some are made from bark, agricultural crop waste, nutshells and other organic materials.) Most are made by compressing dry natural wood waste into cylindrical pellets with a diameter of ¼ inch and ¼ to 1¼ inches in length. They can be bought in 40-pound bags or delivered by tanker truck to a storeroom in the home.
Wood pellets take up very little space compared with logs because of their high heat value. They burn more efficiently and produce very little air pollution or creosote (a type of tar like residue). Pellet wood (as well as solid wood) are more eco-friendly alternatives to non-renewable fossil fuel such as oil, coal and natural gas.
Most pellet stoves are less expensive to install than wood stoves and can be direct-vented, avoiding building a costly chimney or flue. Pellet fuel appliances are available freestanding or can be fireplace inserts. The freestanding units are like conventional wood heaters, which generally heat only the room they are in, unless they have a fan to force the warm air into other spaces in the house. Pellet-fired furnaces and boilers are now available for replacement or to supplement, gas or oil fired furnaces and boilers for space heating in homes..
Pellets stoves can be used in addition to another heating system or can also be used as the primary system; it is advisable to have an experienced professional evaluate the proper size unit before purchasing a unit. Homeowners also need to learn how to care for the unit, cleaning it regularly themselves and professionally about once a year.
Some stoves have electronically controlled wood pellet boilers with an automated pellet feed system and modulating burner making it easy to use. A continuous delivery system transports the pellets to the burner. Some burners feature a fully automated cleaning mechanism to ensure long intervals between emptying of the system.
All pellet stoves have hoppers, which store from about 35 to 130 pounds of pellets until they will be needed. These can last for a day or longer depending on the output required. Exhaust gases are vented out via a small flue pipe going out through the wall or upwards through the roof.
Today many of models are programmable and have a thermostat to govern the pellet feed rate. Most pellet stoves require electricity to run the fans, controls, and pellet feeders. This will generally cost the consumer about $9 a month for electricity using about 100 kilowatt hours. If there is a loss of electricity the stove will not be able to function. However United States Stove Co. has developed a gravity fed non-electric pellet stove (see above) which utilizes a natural gravity feed system that eliminates all of the typical electrical and mechanical parts found in traditional pellet heaters and so will continue to operate with loss of power.
Pellet stoves are an excellent environmentally-friendly alternative other forms of heating which emit more particulates, are more costly and loss heat in the process of producing it. According to ComfortBilt Pellet Stoves, “Pellet stove owners love the heat output without all of the mess or hassle of a wood stove and find it a convenient and inexpensive way to provide heat throughout the winter months.”