I have burned 1.6 tons of wood pellets so far this winter. The significance of the number isn’t its size, though 1.6 tons is a lot. The significance is that it represents 80 bags of pellets, each 40 pounds. The significance is that it represents about half of the pellets I’d purchased for the heating season. By the almanac, it looks like I should have ordered more pellets, as we’re not yet at midwinter and I’ll probably run out.
That said, the pellet stove has been a great savings. We normally burn 200 gallons of oil a month during the heating season, but our burn rate for December and January has been under 45 gallons each. At $200 per ton for pellets and $2 per gallon for oil, we’re doing pretty well.
Cordwood, burned in a stove in our dining room, picks up the slack during the coldest days, and we’ve got plenty of that left.
[update:] I’ve been buying my pellets manufactured by Energex “the largest wood pellet fuel manufacturer in North America.” They claim to have plants in Quebec, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, but now I’ve found New England Wood Pellet in Jaffrey, NH. They’ve even got an interesting photo walkthrough of the pellet manufacturing process.
There are a few claims on the website that interested me:
One ton of wood pellets have the same heat value of about 1 1/2 cords of wood. In their forty pound bags, they also stack in about a third of the space.
Buring wood pellets produces less CO2 per BTU than oil, gas, and electric.
If every household converted to wood pellet (or equivalent renewable source) for heating, the total carbon emissions of the United States would drop by more than 8%.
I wouldn’t quote them if they didn’t give a plausible source, but they do:
Data taken from Dr. Jerry Whitfield’s talk “Reduction in Greenhouse Gases Using Biomass Pellets for Residential Space Heating”, 6/3/98
So I guess I can start telling everybody I’m doing my part to save the environment now.