The use of traditional stoves/fireplaces for heating purposes has taken a significant hit in the past decades from modern central heating systems. On the other hand, the increase in the cost of electricity that is needed to operate these modern central heating systems, due to fossil fuels price rise, has made consumers more conscious on the amount of money they spend in operating them. As a result, consumers are now looking for cheaper alternative solutions.One of these alternatives are the new biomass stoves that are turning around the trend of using combustion of biological material for heat.
Biomass energy is a renewable energy source since carbon dioxide emitted can be recaptured if we replace the biological source used i.e. replanting. This is probably the biggest advantage of biomass energy. In the case of a biomass stove the fuel burned to produce heat ranges from wood pellets, grain dried cherry pits, pellets, manure and corn. According to the heat calculator of US energy information administration the two biomass home heating fuels that are in their list, corn and wood pellets, both have a heating cost per million BTUs cheaper than oil, electricity, kerosene, propane and are more expensive than coal, wood and natural gas. Taking in consideration the fact that biomass stove heat is renewable it might outweigh the financial benefits from burning coal and natural gas.
It should be noted that biomass stoves come as stand alone or as fireplace inserts in case that you already have a fireplace and can be used to heat one room or to connect into your venting system to heat the entire house (depending on the size of it more than one units might be required in this case).
The cons and other things to consider
When choosing a biomass stove make sure that the fuel you will be burning is readily available in your region. For example, if you live in an area that produces corn and doesn’t have any sawmills it will make sense to buy a stove that burns corn and not wood pellets. Another factor in the choice of fuel is the level of environmental consciousness that you might have since using a fuel that travels a great distance in a truck that burns fossil fuel to reach you might outperform the good that you are doing to the environment. Furthermore, when choosing your biomass stove there is the issue of odor coming from the fuel that you will be choosing. Manure in specific might emit odor so the stove that you will be buying has to have a proper heat exchanger to isolate the smell.
Finally there are federal tax credits since 2011 that have been extended and run until December 31st 2013. The tax credit is 10% with the maximum amount being $300. To be safe that you are eligible for the federal tax credit make sure to get advice from a qualified tax professional as certain restrictions apply (i.e. if you already receive a tax credit for a biomass stove or if you are in a zero tax bracket.)