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Biomass Boilers – The Case For An Eco-Friendly Heating System

Biomass Boilers – The Case For An Eco-Friendly Heating System

At Bespoke, we’re passionate about eco-friendly building. Yes, there’s often a price saving to be gained (especially if you think long-term) but it’s also a case of our responsibility to our planet, and protecting resources for our children, and children’s children. Self-builders have a fantastic opportunity to make a real difference by installing carefully considered services at the planning and design phase of a build – and in this blog, I want to explore the world of the Biomass Boiler.

What is a Biomass Boiler?
Put simply, a biomass boiler is an eco-friendly alternative to a traditional gas boiler system, burning wood pellets rather than gas; this method of heating is particularly suited to larger homes that have space on the property to store the system and the fuel. At Bespoke, we put our money where our mouth is – our founder, Daniel Arathoon, has installed a biomass boiler in his own home, and is a big fan of the benefits of this alternative heating system.

Why choose a Biomass Boiler?
There are some really strong pros to choosing a biomass heating system.
• First and foremost, you can expect to be largely carbon-neutral, as long as you use wood from sustainable sources (logs, chips or pellets). Although you’re burning fuel, the CO2 that is released when a tree is burned is compensated by the CO2 that it absorbed as a young tree. (Although much more eco-friendly than burning fossil fuels, it’s perhaps more realistic to think of wood fuel as a low-carbon option rather than 100% carbon-neutral, as there are some unavoidable carbon footprint processes in the transportation and production involved in creating fuel, and indeed, your biomass boiler itself.)
• Try to source sustainable wood, where each felled tree is replanted with a new one, to keep your carbon footprint as low as possible.
• A biomass boiler uses very little electricity so you can often save up to 20% on your annual bills (even when factoring in the cost of wood).
• Usually more efficient than a traditional gas boiler.
• Biomass is very clean, meaning that you won’t see or smell any smoke.
• The ash generated from a Biomass takes up very little space – and makes a great fertiliser!

What are the downsides?
These mainly fall into two categories – you’ll need plenty of space, and the initial cost outlay is not cheap.
• The boiler takes up a fair amount of room, so you’ll need enough space on your property to house it. You also need to bear in mind the space needed to store dry fuel. If you choose an automatically fed boiler, the hopper is also very large, so consider this carefully.
• Biomass boilers are eco-friendly, and will save you money in the long-term, but they are expensive to purchase and install. A typical price tag starts at £9,000, and rises to £14,000 for a large, automated model.
Is there any financial help to buy a Biomass Boiler?
There could be. Take a look at the government’s domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme. If you quality under the scheme, you could receive payments over the course of several years if you install an eligible system. Bear in mind that RHI support is not available to new build properties, other than self-build projects.

Overall, if you have the space and the means to fund a biomass boiler, it’s certainly worth considering. You’ll recoup the initial investment, and there may be assistance available under the RHI scheme, plus you’ll be doing your bit to move to a carbon-neutral way of life.

If you’re planning a new design and build project, and you want to create an eco-friendly home, Bespoke could be the construction partner for you. Give us a call, or pop into the office for a chat with our friendly team to find out more.

-Brendan