Efficient biomass heating systems, such as those fueled by locally-sourced wood chips or pellets, are a great way to update your old oil or gas boiler systems and save money at the same time. The upfront cost of these systems is slightly higher than fuel oil or gas boilers, but they offer on average 30% savings over oil and propane over five years, making it a stellar investment for your home.
An exciting new offering is now available to assist in the transition to heating with biomass. As of January 2021, EPA-certified wood heating systems that have an efficiency above 75% have been eligible for a Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC). This 26% credit can go towards the total purchase and installation cost. The ITC expires on December 31st 2021 and is reduced to 22% through 2023.
The EPA has a helpful list of which wood heaters qualify and how to purchase them. In addition, there are many qualified installers and fuel providers right here in New Hampshire. This is particularly helpful to residents who have been using a wood stove, oil furnace, boiler, or propane heat and would like a new unit that is more efficient, uses less fuel, and can support the local economy when harvested sustainably and from local sources. Modern biomass systems incorporate robust emissions-capture technology, making them much cleaner than old models.
New Hampshire has a history of superior sustainable forestry and when using a biomass system, you can be proud that your fuel purchase is going towards your local economy. Using our forests as sustainably as we can is also a benefit. By using sustainable forestry practices to harvest wood, keeping old growth areas intact, landowners can keep their land forested, and this translates to better environmental practices than any potential development.
New Hampshire is 84% covered by timber forests, making it the second most forested state in the country. Of those forests, 76% are privately owned. Currently, forest growth is exceeding harvests by 49%, meaning many more trees are regenerating than are being cut, and we can use this plentiful, renewable resource to help our citizens and our economy.
Modern wood heat boilers re-fuel themselves, ignite, extinguish and can be monitored via cloud-based software. High quality wood pellets used in boilers burn clean and produce no visible smoke. The boilers are even self-cleaning! The wood pellets used are made from 100% wood, from sources around the state, and made at local sawmills. The wood used is from sawmill waste and sustainable forestry practices. No glue or additives are used, and the pellets are stuck together using the lignin that makes up the wood to bind them together.
In addition to the new ITC, New Hampshire has a rebate program for bulk-fed wood pellet central boilers and furnaces. The program provides a rebate of up to 40% of the system and installation cost for residents investing in high efficiency (80% or better) systems. To learn more about modern wood heating technology, local installers, resident stories, and available incentives, please visit www.feelgoodheat.org and get started on your journey to modern wood heating.
Josh is the Program Coordinator at Clean Energy New Hampshire, where he plans, develops and delivers technical and educational assistance to communities around the state. Josh has a Master’s degree in Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School.
Note from the editor: The biomass topic can be controversial. We will attempt to clarify any concerns regarding the use of biomass in the next edition of Green Energy Times.