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Biomass and Stoves – Costs and Benefits

A variety of things will affect the cost of installing a wood fuelled heating system:

Your heating requirements: The average 3 bedroom semi-detached house needs roughly 15kW, while a large detached house needs around 20kW or more. For an idea of your heating needs in kilowatt hours (kWh) per year see your last energy bill. If your house is well insulated, this will reduce your heating requirements meaning you will need a smaller system.

Size: Unless a back up boiler is present the wood fuelled system should meet your home needs. Over-sizing will reduce efficiency and will increase running costs so be careful not to choose a system which is too big for your needs.

Fuel: Pellets and other denser fuels are more expensive as they are drier, but have a higher energy density and require less storage space. Choosing a local supplier will also reduce transport emissions.

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Other factors: Wood fuelled appliances get hot and are heavy. If you have a stove you will need a surround for protection and a suitable hearth.

Stoves need air vents clear of any obstructions and of the right size as they need an adequate supply of air flow. To allow the gases produced by the wood to escape a suitable flue is required. This must meet the requirements of the Building Regulations.Sufficient storage space is required to store the fuel and space around the boiler for adding the fuel.

Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP)

The second phase of a two phase approach to support installation renewable heating technologies. The Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme has now been extended for further applications. Providing around £12m of available payments to households in Scotland, England and Wales who install appropriate-sized systems after 21st July 2011. A biomass system can attract a voucher value of £2,000 and does not effect on your eligibility for the Renewable Heating Initiative, although it is expected that the value of the RHPP contribution will be incrementally deducted from future RHI payments.

Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)

The RHI is now available for the Commercial Installations. To date, the Government is yet to have published the full details of how the Renewable Heat Incentive will work in the domestic sector but it is due to be launched in the spring of 2014. Payments will be made on a quarterly basis for seven years. The tariffs for biomass boilers have been set at 12.2p per kWh, this reflects the expected cost of renewable heat generation over 20 years. In most cases, payments will be made based on estimated heat demand of the property. DECC will offer an extra set payment of £200 per year where consumers take out metering and monitoring support packages. Applicants will need to complete a Green Deal Assessment before submitting their application and must ensure they have met minimum loft (250mm) and cavity wall insulation requirements, where possible.

Pellet and log stoves are not eligible for Renewable Heat Premium Payments, and are not expected to be supported by the RHI.