Wood Fuelled Heating (Biomass)

By Katie Anderson on July 27th, 2011


An environmentally friendly method of heating your home, wood fuelled heating – also known as biomass – involves the burning of wood in the form of pellets, chips or logs to power central heating and hot water boilers, or to provide warmth to a room.

A sustainable and renewable energy, the term biomass refers to any organic matter burnt as fuel to produce heat or power. Also known as bioenergy or biofuel, burning organic matter as a means of providing heat for the home has been relied upon for thousands of years.

Biomass energy can be generated from wood, timber, forestation, plants and animal wastes, leaves of plants, agricultural wastes, organic wastes, waste paper and industrial waste. In the home, biomass fuel is usually wood chip, wood pellets or logs.

As a means of domestic heating, there are two main ways biomass can be used. For instance, stand alone stoves fuelled by logs or pellets can provide space heating for a room, and can be fitted with a back boiler to provide hot water. Alternatively, a boiler which is connected to your central heating and hot water system can be installed.

The Government has introduced the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) as a way of providing financial assistance to people interested in switching to an alternative source of heating, such as biomass.

Is wood fuelled heating suitable for my home?

  • You’ll need a large dry area located close to the boiler to store wood.
  • You must have a suitable flue. You’ll need a vent which is designed specifically for wood fuel appliances. Fitting a lined flue to your property’s existing chimney shouldn’t be too expensive.
  • If you live in an older property you’ll need to make sure you can comply with safety and building regulations.
  • You might need planning permission.
  • Check whether you live in a smokeless zone, because if you do wood can only be burnt in certain exempted appliances.

10 Top Facts

1. Biomass energy is renewable, which means we can make more biomass in a short space of time.
2. Biomass is found in forests, fields and barns, in industrial and manufacturing facilities, and in landfills.
3. More and more towns burn their garbage in waste-to-energy plants. So instead of putting the garbage in landfill sites, it is put to good use by burning it to make electricity.
4. Biomass fuel is carbon neutral. This is because the carbon dioxide given off when the fuel is burned is equal to the amount absorbed when the organic matter was originally growing.
5. Heat and electricity are generated during biomass energy production.
6. Biomass is considered to be a future key renewable resource.
7. Biomass can replace the use of fossil fuels and contributes to a reduction in air pollution.
8. In rural areas people have to rely on biomass for cooking and heating purposes.
9. Around 50-60% of the energy in Asia and 70-90% of the energy in Africa comes from wood or biomass.
10. Biomass systems range from small stoves used in homes for heating or cooking, to large power plants that produce electricity.

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