With the air getting chillier and temperatures beginning to drop around Maine, it’s a perfect time to start thinking about your home heating options for the winter. We recently caught up with pellet boiler specialist Stefan Apse from reVision heat to learn more about replacing your existing boiler (that runs on fossil fuels) with a sustainable and efficient wood pellet boiler.
SRG: What’s a wood pellet?
SA: Wood pellets are made from 100% wood with no additives. There are currently 4 pellet mills in Maine. At the mill, the low grade pulp wood and waste materials from the forest products industry is chipped and dried to 5% moisture content and extruded into pellet form. With wood transformed into a standardized, dried, pellet form, the wood pellets can be easily stored, conveyed, metered, and burned efficiently to create heat and hot water.
SRG: What’s the difference between a Pellet Stove and a Pellet Boiler?
SA: Pellet stoves are room appliances, designed to heat the room that they are in. Fully automated pellet boilers replace your oil boiler to reliably heat the whole house and make domestic hot water. There is no need for anything else, and with it, you displace 100% of your home’s fossil fuel use with one appliance.
SRG: What are the benefits of using a pellet boiler over other technologies?
SA: Fully automated wood pellet boilers are designed to replace your existing oil boiler, and make use of all of the existing infrastructure. Boilers that burn fossil fuels are much more expensive to operate, are more polluting, and are tied to volatile fossil fuel prices. Other technologies to replace a home’s heating equipment require significant investments in new infrastructure.
SRG: Why doesn’t everybody install a pellet boiler?
SA: Pellet boilers are somewhat new to the American market. They are best installed in homes with a heating demand of 800 gallons of oil or more, and they require space in the basement for the boiler and pellet storage. They cost between $4,000 and $6,000 more than a comparable oil boiler, but they save the consumer between $1,000 and $1,800 a year.
SRG: Why I should have a wood pellet boiler?
SA: Unlike fossil fuels boilers, pellet boilers run on renewable Maine wood pellets which are stable in price. Currently, buying pellets is like buying oil at $2 a gallon. Paired with the efficiency of the boiler homeowners typically save 50% on their fuel bill and reduce their carbon footprint by 90%. By heating your home with wood pellets you’re supporting the local Maine economy and keeping 100% of your heating dollars in the state.
Stefan Apse comes to reVision heat after years in the natural building world and local economics scene. After college Stefan spent his time in Vermont and Colorado building strawbale homes. Then he moved to western Massachusetts to work for the Schumacher Center for New Economics. Now working for reVision heat with a focus on pellet boilers, Stefan is able to combine his interests in sustainable living and local economics. When not working, Stefan enjoys surfing, biking, canoeing, and serving on the board of the Portland Food Co-op.