Alternative Heating on the Rise.

(what renewable energy sources are out there?)

What renewable energy sources are out there – and why more people are turning to wood pellets and wood blocks for their home heating.

Alternative Heating – Top of Mind with Homeowners

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s website, home heating accounts for approximately 30 percent of the energy used most homes. 1That means home owners like you are spending a good deal of their hard-earned cash on keeping their families warm when the outdoor temperatures cool. It makes sense that they’re looking for renewable energy options that will provide heat cost-effectively – and that will treat the environment around them kindly. What Qualifies as “Alternative Heating?”
Alternative heating comes from a variety of renewable energy sources including:

  • Solar – Typically via photovoltaic panels that generate electricity from the sun’s energy.
  • Wind – Using the power of wind and converting it to electric to heat homes.
  • Hydropower (or hydro-electric power) – Water power derived from the energy of falling water.
  • Geothermal – Which harnesses the heat stored in the earth and transports it via underground pipes into buildings.
  • Liquid biofuels – Such as ethanol and biodiesel.
  • Natural gas – Also known as “biogas.” Contains methane from the decomposition of organic materials that is purified then delivered via pipelines to homes.
  • Wood biomass – Including blocks and pellets burned in wood stoves and pellet stoves.

Renewable Energy Seeing a Boost in Supply and Consumption

Unlike the earth’s fossil fuels which are in increasingly short supply, renewable energy sources are predicted to grow in abundance. 2According to the US Energy Information Administration website, renewable energy use is on the rise as well. “EIA projects renewable energy consumption for electricity and heat generation to increase by 3.6 percent in 2013.” In 2014, the agency expects that growth to reach 4.2 percent.

Why Wood?

Wood biomass products as an alternative fuel have become a popular choice of homeowners. The environmental benefits are one reason. High-quality wood pellets and wood blocks burn clean and produce no carbon waste. They’re made from compressed sawdust and shavings that would have otherwise been thrown away.

Another advantage of wood pellets and blocks is the convenience they offer. Unlike cordwood, they’re durable and do not produce unwanted dust and dirt. Wood blocks are stackable and take up minimal space compared to firewood, and wood pellets come in bags that are convenient to store as well.

Unlike other alternative heating methods that may require substantial home renovations, wood pellet stoves, inserts, and other wood-burning appliances are – in general – relatively easy to install and use. That often makes them a more viable option for homeowners. Also, some wood appliances don’t depend on electricity so if there’s a power outage, you’ll still have heat.

Of course, what’s on the minds of many homeowners is saving money! Wood pellets and blocks offer not only energy efficiency, but they also result in lower home heating expenses. According to the Pellet Fuels Institute, wood pellets have a stable pricing structure and are cost-competitive. Their 80 percent appliance efficiency gives them a cost per million BTU of just $18.67 compared to $32.25 for #2 fuel oil, $35.16 for electricity, and $39.72 for LP gas/propane. Only natural gas, hardwood cordwood, and coal offer lower costs per BTU. 3 Wood blocks provide efficiency comparable to wood pellets.

Make the Right Choice

If you’re considering switching to an alternative heating method, be sure to do your homework and carefully consider which option will be the best choice for you. We believe you’ll discover that heating with wood biomass products will make the most sense from logistical, environmental and financial perspectives, but talk with a home heating expert before making a decision.

If you have questions about heating with wood pellets and wood blocks, please contact Bio-Diversity. We’ll be happy to give you the information you need to make an informed decision.


1 Overview: Home Heating Systems. (n.d.). Retrieved July 11, 2013, from US Department of Energy: http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/overview-home-heating-systems

2 Short-Term Energy Outlook. (n.d.). Retrieved July 11, 2013, from US Energy Information Administration: http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/steo/report/renew_co2.cfm

3 Compare Fuel Costs. (n.d.). Retrieved July 11, 2013, from Pellet Fuels Institute: http://pelletheat.org/pellets/compare-fuel-costs