If you're not sure about renewables, nothing beats seeing them in situ
Posted by Gordon Glass on 31 August 2012 at 9:35 am
If you are excited about the potential of biomass, you may be considering a wood pellet boiler. Mark Brown has just such a boiler installed in the garage of his 5-bedroom house in High Wycombe, as I discovered on a recent visit.
Mark says that, of all the technologies you can install for heating, biomass offers the greatest reduction in carbon footprint per £ spent. It’s a resilient technology as locally-sourced biomass may be used.
My own first impression of Mark’s Austrian-made boiler was that this is serious piece of modern engineering. Apart from having to pour pellet into the hopper, it is fully automated and can be literally put on a timer. It can even control the existing gas boiler which serves as a backup.
A couple of things surprised me. You’d think ash might be a bit of an issue. "Not so," says Mark. You are talking handfuls, not bucketfuls - in fact, he empties the ash just once a year. And smoke - you can neither see nor smell any! That’s amazing.
But only when you see this biomass boiler in situ do you start to realise the importance of getting a sense of the dimensions involved - not just for the boiler, but also for storing 3 tonnes of wood pellets. It’s significant.
But, don’t take my word for this. Mark’s is just one of seven SuperHome households with biomass boilers hosting free open days this September. I think it’s hard to beat visiting an owner like Mark to get a proper idea of what living with one of these systems means - both the benefits and the challenges.To find out more, or to book a tour, see the SuperHomes website.
SuperHomes are older homes refurbished by their owners to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 60%. 50 home owners will be opening their doors in September. SuperHomes often use alternative heating sources like biomass boilers, air source heat pumps or solar thermal. Mark has written more about his system here, and it is also possible to visit his home by appointment. He has also installed solar thermal and PV panels, insulated lofts and cavity walls, installed double glazing and low energy lighting, and thoroughly draught proofed the house.
If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.
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