The economy can be unsteady and with the great emphasis being placed on energy-efficiency and environmental awareness, it is no wonder that so many people are interested in better ideas for heating the home. This is where the pellet stove enters the scene.
A pellet stove combines the nostalgia of retro wood stoves with the high energy efficiency of modern design. Furthermore, they are a low-emission and carbon-neutral way of heating the home. This makes the pellet stove one of the most environmentally friendly options you can find on the markets today
The United States Department of Energy praises the pellet stove for being “…more convenient than conventional wood stoves or fireplaces with a higher combustion level and more efficient heating…” They go on to applaud the extremely low levels of emission produced by burning pellets in these impressive heating options.
But what does all this mean to an economically-minded homeowner like yourself? Read on to find out all you need to know about the pellet stove.
What Are Pellet Stoves?
The pellet stove is the modern take on the traditional wood stove. Many people will remember the nostalgic wood stove made of cast iron common not so long ago.
These heating stoves were large, not very efficient, and typically made a considerable mess in the room they were installed. Wood stoves relied on radiant heat to warm the home meaning that one room could be nice and toasty while the rest of the home would remain as cold as ever.
The pellet stove contains all the beauty and comfort of the older wood stoves with none of their weaknesses. They burn with a hotter and cleaner fire and distribute heat more efficiently through the entire home.
A pellet stove can be placed in a centric location in the home on a heat resistant hearth or better still installed in the fireplace. They are more efficient as they burn less fuel to create more heat for a longer time, which makes them a more efficient option than heating the home with oil or gas.
As you will find out, pellet stoves can also be a budget-saving solution to heating needs.
How Do Pellet Stoves Work?
A pellet stove requires fuel to produce heat. The fuel of choice are cost-effective pellets made of biomass, which could be made of compressed materials like peanut shells, sawdust, etc.
These pellets are fed into a self-igniting firebox. The fire within is stoked with a fan and the heat is circulated throughout the home by being expelled out an external vent.
Like a wood stove, the pellet stove will get hot, but not as hot as the wood stove and this means you are not relying solely on radiant heat to keep your home warm.
Will I Save Money With a Pellet Stove?
The big question on everyone’s mind is this, “will a pellet stove save me resources spent on heating?” Naturally, the answer will require a bit of forethought, planning, and mathematics.
Here is what you need to know.
According to the Energy Information Association, the cost of heating the home with a pellet stove is a little less than heating the home with coal and much less than using oil, propane, or electricity. As much as 6X cheaper than oil or gas, to be exact.
This means that pellet stoves are more cost-effective in terms of BTU-per-dollar. But this figure does not include the cost of electricity to run the pellet stove, which can amount to an average of $10 each month.
One of the most important things to consider will be the sizable initial cost of installing an appropriate pellet stove in the home. A new pellet stove can cost between $1,200 – $3,000 and will require regular maintenance to keep in optimal function.
Furthermore, the cost of fuel is on the rise due to greater demands for biomass fuels. These are important factors to include in your equations.
Whether or not you will recoup your initial investment and in how much time depends on the answers to some key questions.
Is Your Home Well-Insulated?
Does the design of your home allow for warm air to flow easily throughout the building?
Will you be relying solely on the pellet stove or will you be supplementing your pellet stove with other heating elements?
Is there a reliable supplier of suitable fuel in your area?
As you can see, the costs of operating a pellet stove can be higher or lower depending on the situation you are in. One of the best ways to ensure that your pellet stove is going to save you cash and recoup your initial investment will be to have your home appraised by an experienced and knowledgeable pellet distributor in your region.
A couple more considerations to tally into your figures will be the Green Tax Credit offered by the U.S. government. This can be as high as 30% of the initial cost of the stove if it has an efficiency rating of 75% or higher.
Furthermore, today’s homebuyers are also very attracted to eco-efficient home improvements. The value of your home may not improve noticeably, but you will certainly be able to improve the asking price and interest in your home to a considerable degree.
The Benefits and Disadvantages of a Pellet Stove
Before you begin shopping for a good pellet stove for your home’s heating needs, it will be important to consider some more details about using this heating option. Here is what you need to know:
Benefits of a Pellet Stove
Here are some of the benefits you’ll find with a pellet stove:
A Simplistic Option
Unlike wood stoves or fireplaces, the pellet stove is easier to use. All you will have to do is add the correct amount of fuel to the hopper, turn on the self-igniting mechanism and leave the stove to warm the home for the next 4 to 12 hours, depending on the size of the hopper and temperatures of your choice.
The thermostat will help balance the heat and energy consumption and plays an important role in regulating the cost-effectiveness of your stove. This is especially true if you will be heating more than one room. Turn the settings to a balmy 70°F and the stove does the rest of the work.
For best results, use dry high-quality pellets to burn a clean flame that is carbon-neutral. This is one of the major tricks, however, as high-quality fuel can be harder to find in some regions. Rather, than making your purchase online or at your favorite supplies store, speak with your pellet stove dealer to locate the best distributor of bio-mass pellets in your area.
Disadvantages of a Pellet Stove
And here are some of the downsides to a pellet stove:
Your pellet stove doesn’t run on bio-mass fuel alone. There are several electrical components that require hookups to the mains. This is not unusual; many wood stoves will also require an electrical connection. But for those looking for a completely off the grid heating solution, the pellet stove may not be the best choice for you.
More Likely to Break
A pellet stove contains a variety of mechanical elements within and therefore carries a higher risk of breakdowns. Throughout the service life of your pellet stove, you will have to remain consistent with maintenance and repairs and will invariably have to replace parts that malfunction, before they render the entire stove inoperable. This is true for all models, even the very best options made by reputable manufacturers.
One of the benefits of a pellet stove is the clean burn, but this is HIGHLY dependent on the fuel you use in your stove. Whether you choose to purchase pellets or learn the fine art of making them yourself, you will need to make sure they are of the highest quality. Low-quality fuels will coat the interior with creosote and lead to more maintenance. A layer of soot a mere one-tenth of an inch can reduce the heating of your stove by as much as 50%.
Owning a pellet stove can save you a lot of money, and it might be great for the environment too (comparatively). That said, there are some downsides to be aware of. Hopefully, this article gave you everything you need to know in order to make your decision.