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Pros And Cons Of Biomass Heating

If you're exploring green heating solutions for your home, one that you may be considering is biomass heating. This is defined as the burning of organic materials, such as wood, wood pellets, corn cobs, or even animal dung, to provide heat for a home. While biomass heating is a good choice for some homeowners, it is not the best option for everyone. Keep these pros and cons in mind as you decide if biomass heating is right for you.

Pro: The fuel is "renewable."

Unlike fossil fuels, which will eventually be used up, the fuels used for biomass heating are available in essentially unlimited supply. More trees can be grown, more corn can be planted, and more animal dung is always being produced. In many cases, the products you'll be burning are waste products of industrial or agricultural processes (corn cobs, for instance, are leftovers), so you're not necessitating any additional production.

Pro: Biomass heating is affordable.

No matter how hard you try, you're never going to get electricity or natural gas for free. However, you may be able to get fuel for your biomass heater for free if you know where to look. Local farmers may be willing to give you corncobs or wood from felled trees. Even if you have to pay for wood or wood pellets, these are generally affordable.

Con: You'll have to be around to reload the heater.

When your heater runs out of pellets, wood, corncobs, or whatever fuel you're using, you'll have to add more. Thus, this is not a good sole heating option to rely on if you travel during the winter or if nobody is home for many hours at a time. You could still use a biomass heater as a secondary heating source and use a backup oil or gas-burning heater when you're away, however. There are automatic feeders available that will add biomass to your heater over a certain period of time, but they only hold a limited amount of fuel and need to be refilled regularly.

Con: You have to be very careful about the exhaust.

Carbon monoxide, an odorless, poisonous gas, is produced whenever organic materials are burned. There will also be smoke to worry about. Thus, it's absolutely essential to make sure your biomass heater is properly vented. Issues with ventilation can allow smoke and carbon monoxide to blow into the home, putting you at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and also ruining your furniture. Having an experienced HVAC technician install your biomass heater  and inspect it annually can reduce your risk of these issues.

If you are home often and can be vigilant about watching for ventilation issues, then biomass heating can be an affordable, renewable heating choice. Talk to an HVAC contractor in your area to learn more about this type of heating and what specific types of biomass fuel are abundant in your area. Consider visiting a site like for additional heating options and information.