Pellet stoves: Hunks of burnin’ love from the Boston Globe

pelletsThis is a heart and hearth-warming story, thanks to Forest Business Network. I like the (potential) connections drawn between East and West.

I have three babies. Two of them are children. One of them is a pellet stove. I love them all.

And while I probably would not throw myself in front of a train to save my pellet stove, I do feed it, clean it, and tend to it as if it were my offspring. And in return, it fills me with a warm feeling, just like my actual offspring do.

Having a pellet stove is a labor of love, much like parenting. And the effort is oh-so worth it.
She puts a 40-pound bag of pellets into the hopper at night and another in the morning.

Chris Morris/Globe staff

Morris puts a 40-pound bag of pellets into the hopper at night and another in the morning.

Here’s why: Until three years ago, we were spending scary amounts of money to heat our 1860s farmhouse. The oil-burning furnace would be running, but we were still having to bundle up. Fleece became a second skin. That’s because if we set the thermostat above 62 degrees, the 250-gallon oil tank would run dry in less than a month. Most years, it was costing us $850-$900 a month to be cold — not to mention broke. Our windows aren’t old and drafty, the house is. And after adding more insulation wherever we could, and doing all manner of boiler maintenance, we came to the realization that nothing was going to make this great old 2,800-square-foot house we love so much feel tight, at least not without a major renovation and an overhaul of our heating system. And those things just weren’t in the cards.

Another for the pro column: It’s green. Pellets are made of wood, a renewable source, and have high combustion and heating efficiencies, which means they produce very little air pollution. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency says they are the cleanest of any residential heating appliances that burn solid fuel. The pellets are generally made of sawdust from lumberyards and sawmills, or the unused tops of trees that are cut down for logging, so they’re a recycled and reclaimed product. Not only are we feeling toasty now, we can also toast our environmental do-goodism.

Thinking of the plethora of dead trees we have along roadsides and other easily accessible places?

The good news is oil costs are down so far this winter, so people might be feeling less pressure to scarf up all available pellets. And, according to Jennifer Hedrick, executive director of the Pellet Fuels Institute in Arlington, Va., efforts are underway to avoid a repeat of what LaFlamme dubbed “The Great Wood Pellet Shortage of 2014.”

“We have companies in the West that are helping in the effort to meet market demand in the Northeast,” Hedrick said.
Thank you, friends in the West. Your help means we will be able to continue to feed our big steel baby this winter, keep our other babies warm, and have some money left for Christmas presents — which will be opened in a warm house. Now that’s worth a toast.

Keeping our eastern friends warm.. seems win-win to me.

******

5 Comments

  1. I moved into a housexactly in 1914 because a pellet stove had been installed. For me, it cranked out heat except when the electricity went down – often in an forested rural community of steep hills managed by industrial timber management companies. We loose so much architectural and cultural history because keeping these treasures warm is defined by the heating systems retrofitted in during the 19 40 ‘ s and forward.

  2. I moved into a house built in 1914 because a pellet stove had been installed. For me, it cranked out heat except when the electricity went down – often in an forested rural community of steep hills managed by industrial timber management companies. We loose so much architectural and cultural history because keeping these treasures warm is defined by the heating systems retrofitted in during the 19 40 ‘ s and forward.

  3. Sharon,
    this post is literally breathtaking — especially in reference to children and you as a grandmother. There are many good reasons why the American Lung Association has been on record against burning biomass. Apparently, they are either forgotten or unknown to you (and I seriously doubt that as I have mentioned this before) or you feel they are unworthy of disclosing as a cautionary sequestration of your business/career/personal biases from well demonstrated scientific research in public health issues. http://www.pfpi.net/american-lung-association-energy-policy-opposes-biomass-combustion-for-heat-and-power

    There is so much evidence to refute these ill-advised biases, I literally don’t know where to start. Perhaps with the latest findings on the effect of pellet stove effluent on the unborn just published last week by the Harvard School of Public Health?
    “Autism Spectrum Disorder and Particulate Matter Air Pollution before, during, and after Pregnancy: A Nested Case-Control Analysis within the Nurses’ Health Study II Cohort,” Raanan Raz, Andrea L. Roberts, Kristen Lyall, Jaime E. Hart, Allan C. Just, Francine Laden, Marc G. Weisskopf, Environmental Health Perspectives, online December 18, 2014.

    I see no other way to rectify this unethical endorsement and disservice to the public health other than requesting that you publish the above, and here’s the link.

    … along with a full discussion of the other consequences of biomass combustion upon society.

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