For domestic purposes, we are including wood fired stoves that can be attached to your water heating system. They are a pleasant and visual form of heating that require constant attention and good siting. Depending on how you install them they can make a big or a negligible contribution to decreasing your carbon footprint.
The fuel for domestic biomass is wood: this is considered a renewable source of fuel because the woodland is deemed managed and is being replaced. It can take the form of logs, woodchip or pellets. There is plenty of managed woodland around Oxford and so wood fuel should be easily available and renewable. Recycled wood can also be used, though not treated timber.
The main types of boiler/wood burners to consider are those with or without a backburner. Even small stoves can generate a lot of heat for a room; rather than waste this heat, stoves with a back burner not only heat the room, they heat your water dumping hot water into your cylinder. This requires that you have one and that there is room for the extra plumbing required.
Installation and location of stoves is important. For example, a small stove will heat up a large room. It may not be worth having a stove unless it has plenty of space – or water – to heat. Similarly there are limits to the contortions that the flue can be put through: it will need to vent to the outside and should not do so near to a window. Most of Oxford is a smokeless zone and not all stoves are allowed to be installed.
Costs of purchasing a stove may go from £5000 including installation. If you are using this as your main heating source you may qualify for the Renewable Heat Incentive.
Oxfordshire has a Logs for Labour scheme (http://www.oxonwoodfuel.org.uk/logs-for-labour/) whose organisers have considerable expertise in the area of biomass boilers and also has a page on the RHI http://www.oxonwoodfuel.org.uk/biomass-boilers/domestic-rhi/ and a local contact for further advice.
- Think about what a biomass boiler/woodburner can do for you carefully. Apart from looking nice, it could make a big contribution to your heating and hot water costs.
- Make sure that your wood supply is local
- Make sure you have somewhere to store a “load” of timber which is probably bigger than you imagine!
If you’ve installed a biomass boiler, we’d love to hear about your experiences – both good and bad. Please get in touch!