Archive for the ‘Home Energy’ Category

Why Purchase a Wood Furnace

Heat is a basic and often overlooked or expected part of your daily life. You need to heat water for cooking or cleaning; you must keep yourself warm and during the dead of winter, you need to heat your house. For all these activities, you have several products including gas or oil furnace or wood stove, electric heater and certainly a water heater. Most of them cost quite a bit money to purchase and operate. If you are like a lot of people, you keep your eyes open to better options.

Greenwood Frontier CX Wood Furnace

A wood furnace or a wood boiler is among the appliances used for generating heat, boiling water and other purposes. A furnace of higher quality provides more energy for less fuel and keeps your house free from smoke. When used properly, it ensures that use less wood and have a warmer home. You can understand why it is essential to understand its benefits. Here are some of the benefits or criteria to use in evaluating a wood stove.

Clean burning – Indoor wood boiler leaves very few particles that cause smoke, ash and creosote. It is as the boiler burns the wood completely.

Energy efficient – It is energy efficient as it achieves over 80% thermal efficiency. It means the most of heat released by burning wood is captured and heats your home efficiently. Note: European and US wood furnaces are rated using different scales for efficiency.

Cost effective – Installing a wood furnace is economical for you as it reduces your overall energy cost. According to a study sponsored by the Canadian government, you can reduce your energy cost up to 70% by the installation of indoor wood stove.

Eco-friendly – Using a wood furnace, like a Greenwood Frontier CX, is an environmentally friendly choice since it releases very little smoke from the burning wood. Reusing the energy from the biomass in the active regeneration cycle is a renewable source of energy.

Low maintenance – It is easy to keep the furnace maintained. It doesn’t need to invest money in its maintenance. Further, you needn’t to clean it often in comparison with wood stove or outdoor boiler.

Long lasting – Yes, a wood stove of good quality lasts for a longer period of time if it is purchased from a reputed manufacturer such as Greenwood. A trusted manufacturer gives solid warranty for its entire appliance, not just a portion of it.

Reliable designs – Wood furnaces are available in two basic designs – downdraft or updraft (like a Greenwood). Identify your taste and purchase the boiler of your choice.


Guest post submitted by Charlie Thompson, an undergraduate engineering student at Penn State.

Thanks Charlie!

The Biomass Thermal Utilization Act Provides 30% Tax Credit on High-Efficiency Wood Boilers

Imagine someone handing you a $3,000 check. And this is after saving over 70% on your heating bill by using a high-efficiency biomass heating system. That’s a pretty sweet deal. This image is one step closer to reality with the introduction of the Biomass Thermal Utilization Act of 2013.

The proposed BTU Act would amend the federal tax code to drive the use of biomass energy as it already does for other forms of renewable energy like solar and wind. Currently, these other technologies qualify for investment tax credits for costs associated with residential and commercial installations. The legislation would give the same incentives for the purchase of thermal biomass (e.g. wood boilers and pellet boilers) systems.

To qualify for the 30% tax credit, residential appliances need to have a thermal efficiency of 75% (using higher heating value, HHV). For commercial applications, the criteria are broken into two tiers – for a 15% credit, equipment must have efficiency greater than 65% and less than 80%; for the 30% credit, the system must have an efficiency greater than or equal to 80% HHV.

While there is a long road ahead, there is a very simple step you can take to help approve the BTU Act of 2013. At this time, the best thing you can do is to contact your state’s Senators and Representatives to and urge them to support the bill as it progresses in the Senate and the House.

For more information visit our friends over at BTEC.

Ways to Reduce Your Need for Heat

Keeping your home warm throughout the winter is always a cause for concern. If there is an exceptionally bad month, your heating bills could be unbelievably high. Although there are eco-friendly ways to produce heat, such as wood or solar heating, there are some cost-effective ways to reduce how much you need. How do you combat the cold in the winter by reducing your need for heat?

1. Weather Strip – There are many homes that have gaps in between doors or windows and their frames. It is common for older homes to have these gaps from simply regular use and age. For a few dollars, you can go to any hardware store and pick up a role of weather stripping. This strip of foam sits in between the door or window and the frame. This strip fills the gaps that are allowing cold air to seep into the home. Most hardware stores sell a variety of styles, so you can easily find the right size for your needs.

2. Windows – During the winter, your home will lose a great deal of heat through its windows. Today’s double-paned glass can greatly reduce the amount of heat that escapes the house. If you are unable to afford the installation of double-paned glass, then there are plastic sheet kits that you can buy for relatively cheap. These kits work very well in protecting your home from the cold-producing window while allowing light to pass through. Once winter is over, these sheets can be safely removed from the window and stored for future use.

3. Insulation – Adding insulation to the walls and ceiling of your home will keep your home warmer. Perhaps the biggest impact can come from adding insulation in your attic, reducing the amount of heat that is lost on cold winter days. Try adding some insulation over rooms where you spend the most time and you will see the difference immediately. Another creative idea is to use a thermal barrier paint additive such as Insuladd. Paints like these reflect heat back into the room, greatly increase the efficiency of your existing insulation.

4. Living Wall – The use of foliage and plants is an increasingly popular way to shield your home from the heat of summer and the cold of winter. If done properly, a living wall will create a layer of natural insulation during the winter months. Although the vines may die or hibernate, they still provide extra protection for the home and create a windbreak reducing the effects of winter storms on the insulative characteristics of your walls.

Although many of these ideas are very easy to implement, some make take a bit more effort. Small steps, like those mentioned here may reduce the amount of power and/or gas you consume. Although this may not concern those with eco-friendly heating systems like a wood boiler, it is still a good idea to practice efficient methods to keeping your home from losing heat during the winter.

This is a guest post by Liz Nelson from She is a freelance writer and blogger. She may be reached at: liznelson17 @

$300 Tax Credit Reinstated for High Efficiency Wood Boilers

With the passing of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, the tax credit for biomass stoves (i.e wood furnaces and wood boilers) has been retroactively renewed through the end of 2013. So, any qualified equipment purchased from January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2013 is eligible for this credit. The tax credit is now set at $300 for high-efficiency biomass stoves that use “plant-derived fuel available on a renewable or recurring basis, including agricultural crops and trees, wood and wood waste and residues (including wood pellets), plants (including aquatic plants), grasses, residues, and fibers)”.

To learn more about the tax credit and what is eligible please visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE). The tax credit is also limited to a $500 “lifetime limit”, so you will want to consult with your tax preparer. The federal tax form required is located here.

It may be helpful to understand the differences between a tax credit and a rebate. Perhaps the best way to illustrate the difference is use an example:

Let’s say that you purchased a wood furnace that cost $10,000 and the appliance had $300 rebate. Rebates are often provided at the time of sale, so your effective price would be $9,700. Contrast this with a $300 tax credit for the same $10,000 appliance. You would pay the full price for the appliance and then complete form 5695 and send it with your federal tax return. The $300 would be applied against your tax bill, increasing your return or reducing the amount you need to pay the IRS.

Either way, it is more money in your pocket.

EIA Predicts Significant Increases in Wood Heating this Season

According to the January issue of the EIA’s Short Term Energy Outlook, the number of homes using wood heat will increase significantly over this heating season.

The report indicates that during the 2012-’13 winter 598,000 households in the Northeast are expected to heat with woody biomass, a 7.7 percent increase. In addition, the EIA is predicting a 3.4 percent increase in the Midwest with an additional 662,000 homes are expected to use wood fuel. In the South, 620,000 homes are expected to heat with woody biomass, a 1.7 percent increase. In the western United States, the EIA expects 752,000 homes to be heated with woody biomass this winter, a 0.3 percent increase. Overall, a total of 2.64 million homes are expected to use wood as their primary heating fuel this heating season, a 3 percent increase over last year.

EIA: Expect 20% Increase in Heating Bills for 2012/13 Winter

According to the EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration), the average US home heating with fuel oil will spend almost 20% more this year on heating as compared to last year. In their annual Short-Term Energy and Winter Fuels Outlook Report, they indicate that the return of normal winter conditions and increases in fuel prices will spur the sharp the increase. The largest increases will be in homes using fuel oil (19%), followed by natural gas (15%), propane (13%) and finally electricity (5%).

The report also indicates that the use of wood fuel for home heating has increased over the last decade, reversing the trends of the 80s and 90s. The EIA estimates that U.S. households consumed approximately 500 trillion Btu of wood, which is only slightly less than the 600 trillion Btu of heating oil used during the same period.

The team at Biomass Magazine have dug deeper into the report and have uncovered some interesting data on the use of wood for heating — in summary, wood heat is not going away. Rather, more homes are being heated with wood than in the past with a 7.7% increase in the past year in New England where 20% of homes use wood for space heating, cooking and water heating. Across the United States EIA is estimates that 2.6 million homes will heat their homes with wood this winter, a 3% increase over 2011. For more insightful details please visit Biomass Magazine.

Will Old Man Winter Make a Return this Winter?

Over the past year we have seen an incredible warm spell – during both the winter and summer months. So, I bet you are asking yourself, what do we have in store this coming winter?

Well, to help answer that question, Caleb Weatherbee, the venerable forecaster for the Farmers’ Almanac, recently released his winter outlook. In his opinion,

… the eastern half of the country will see plenty of cold and snow. By comparison, the western half will experience relatively warm and dry condition. In addition, they predict that real winter weather will return to some areas, specifically from the Great Lakes into the Northeast. Finally, most eastern states – as far south as the Gulf Coast – will see snowier than normal conditions and cooler temperatures.

So, if you live in the upper Midwest and Northeast, get your house in order and brace for a return of Old Man Winter!


Greenwood Frontier CX Wood Boiler Receives Washington State Certification

It is not that often we blow our own horn on this blog, but this announcement is kind of big deal, so we are going to break from tradition. Last week we announced that the Greenwood Clean Energy’s Frontier CX wood boiler is the first and only log wood boiler certified for sale in Washington State.

So, why is this a big deal?

Well, up to this point in time, you couldn’t legally buy a wood boiler in the State of Washington due to very strict air quality regulations. In fact in the hydronic heater category, Washington State regulations are 75% stricter than the EPA standard (4.5gm/hr vs 18 gm/hr). The state also requires the use Douglas Fir as the test fuel source, since that is the predominant fuel in the region, although homeowners can use any variety of a locally available seasoned log wood.

So what does this mean to you?

If you are Washington State resident, you now have a way to heat your home and water using a locally available and renewable fuel source – wood. If you live outside Washington, you can rest assured that you are purchasing one of the cleanest and most efficient wood-fired central heating appliances on the market today.

If you would like to learn more about the announcement please visit the Greenwood press room on our website, or if you would like to find your local Greenwood dealer, please click here.

Oil increases to highest level since 2008

This past week, oil prices reached their highest level since 2008 and peaked at over $128 per barrel. Much like the increases last year, the concern with supply disruptions sent prices higher. This time it was concern with Iran, last year it was Libya — in the not-too distant future, we’ll be hearing about the growing demand in China putting pressure on oil prices. It is a never ending cycle.

Prices may go down temporarily, but historically, they continue a steady climb. Unfortunately, in a flat economy, these increases are especially painful. Oil prices affect so many things from food prices to consumer goods to gasoline. If we are concerned about gasoline prices that approach $5 per gallon, we should be thankful we are not in Europe where gas prices are twice as high in many places.

So what are we doing about it? Well, from our perspective — not enough.

We could digress into a political discussion about the positions of each party on the topic, but I won’t. The bottom line is we need an energy policy that considers all forms of renewable energy that reduce our dependence on oil.

We are in the bio-thermal or wood to energy business and our customers are people who want some aspect of energy independence. If you have purchased one our appliances (or another manufacturers) — thank you for making a difference. This political season, we encourage you to ask your candidates what they are going to be doing to help move our country toward greater energy independence.

Wood: The Fastest Growing Heating Fuel in the United States

Data from the 2010 US Census shows that wood heat grew faster than any other heating source in the last decade. The use of wood fuel grew 34% compared to the 26% increase for electricity.

Wood heat grew fastest in the Northeast and the Great Lakes regions with Michigan and Connecticut seeing the largest increases at over 120% each.  Other states which saw significant increases in wood heat penetration over the decade, include high-density states New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio with increases exceeding 65 percent.

The rise of wood and wood pellets in home heating is often driven by a need for homeowners to reduce their heating bill with lower cost fuels like wood that are used in wood stoves, wood boilers and fireplace inserts. Over the last ten years, wood heat has been driven by the climbing cost of oil, the economic downturn and the movement to use renewable energy.

According to the EIA, residential wood heat accounts for 80% of residential renewable energy, solar 15% and geothermal 5%. By contrast, the only part of the country where wood fell in use were the warm weather states of the South, with Florida seeing the highest decline at 21 percent.

John Ackerly, with the Alliance for Green Heat, stated it most clearly, “Heating with wood may not be hip like solar, but it’s proving to be the workhorse of residential renewable energy production.”

For more information on heating fuel, visit here.

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