On Tuesday evening a workshop was hosted by the Cavendish Energy Committee on heating with wood. Emma Hanson, a specialist in wood heat from Vermont’s Dept. of Forests, Parks and Recreation, gave an overview of the latest clean burning systems, from wood boilers and high efficiency furnaces to pellet stoves and efficient fireplaces. Brian Hernon from HB Energy Solutions in Springfield gave his perspective on installation and system design of various wood fired systems.

Heating with wood reduces our dependence on fossil fuels, sustains healthy forest and creates jobs in our community. It offers an affordable, local and renewable source of fuel with lower carbon emissions than fossils. When we heat with fossil fuels, .80¢ of every dollar leaves VT, versus having all that money stay in our community when we heat with wood.

Advances since the mid-2000s have led to more efficient and clean wood heating appliances, including pellet stoves and boilers that achieve efficiency ratings over 80%. There are various ways to heat with wood:

• Cordwood-Burned in wood stove but does require six months of outdoor seasoning before burning

• Wood Pellets: These are small, evenly sized granules of compressed sawdust and need to be burned in pellet stoves and pellet boilers. They burn very hot and clean. Pellets can be purchased in bulk or in bags.

• Wood Chips: Chipped wood is a very affordable fuel, which is burned in large scale wood chip boilers. They are appropriate for schools and institutions. They do require large storage bins.

Generally speaking the upfront cost of automatic wood heating systems are higher than their fossil fuel counterparts, but the cost of the wood fuel is lower over the life of the appliance, saving you money overall. There are rebates and financing to help with upfront costs from Efficiency Vermont and the Clean Energy Development Fund.

Learn more:

• VTHeatsLocal Movement Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram

VT Dept. of Forests, Parks and Recreation’s Wood Energy site.

• Burn Right Vermont’s Five Simple Ways to Burn Right.