Unplugged Energy Independence

Kelsey Loeffler

Recent Posts

The EPA-Certified CleanFire

Posted by Kelsey Loeffler on Thu,Nov 03,2016 @ 11:35 AM

CleanFire_EPA_FLeft.pngIgnite the Revolution.

Patent-pending design changes heating from the inside out.

Burns hotter. Cleans easier. Lasts longer.

We are excited to announce that our recently released outdoor wood boiler, the CleanFire, is EPA-certified. 

Along with its revolutionary design features, including the dry fire chamber, it is also an ASME certified boiler. ASME certification ensures the use of the highest quality materials and workmanship resulting in a boiler life expectancy of 40+ years.

The WoodMaster CleanFire has many industry leading features and benefits. Three key components of the CleanFire include:

1. Dry Fire Chamber- Patent-pending design. No ceramics. No damaging corrosion. No creosote build-up.

2. ASME Pressurized Vessel- The ASME H stamped boiler keeps oxygen out of the system, preventing corrosion to the water jacket. ASME certification ensures the use of the highest quality materials and workmanship.

3. WoodMaster Control- Designed to protect the components of the CleanFire. Very user friendly.

Watch our Features and Benefits video to learn more about this great product!

Topics: eco-friendly, Wood furnaces, affordable heat, local energy, EPA, outdoor wood heat, renewable fuel, clean burn, home heating, clean energy

2016 Heating the Midwest Conference & Expo

Posted by Kelsey Loeffler on Mon,Jul 18,2016 @ 02:48 PM

Heating-MW-logo-FINAL.jpg

The 5th annual Heating the Midwest with Renewable Biomass Conference and Expo is getting closer! The event will take place October 11 – 13 in Harris Michigan, at the Island Resort and Casino (14 miles west of Escanaba).  This year’s theme is “Adopting Renewable Biomass Heat: Investing In Tomorrow’s Sustainable Communities.” 

Did you know that every year, nearly 1.2 million households ‘export’ more than $2.2 billion energy dollars out of the United States? And, according to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) estimates, in the Midwest region alone, there is over TWO BILLION dollars exported for oil and propane and a lost job potential of 130,000+ jobs. This money does not circulate through the local and regional economies, does not generate commerce, and does not create or support jobs. Based on each state’s ability to sustainably produce biomass fuels, the conversion of those 1.2 million households would generate more than $419 million in new annual income.

Our goal for this conference is to provide you with the information needed to support local biomass for heat and combined heat and power applications to foster future sustainable communities in the Midwest! You will have the opportunity to join the pre-conference tour and visit locations that use a biomass system, manufacture biomass systems, and produce woody biomass.  Topics at the 2016 conference will include: investing in our communities with biomass, developing new markets for wood heating, biomass technologies, and much more! The event also offers a Biomass Heating Expo with indoor and outdoor exposition areas where 30+ vendors, businesses and organizations will demonstrate the latest in biomass technologies, information and support.

New to this year’s event is a two-part technical workshop, “In the Trenches with System Designers and Installers.” Members of AIA, AEE, and BPI will be eligible to receive up to 7 continuing education credits for attending the workshops at this conference. HVAC contractors will receive a certificate of course completion.

We hope you will come out and enjoy everything this great event has to offer! More information can be found at:http://heatingthemidwest.org/conferences/2016-conference-expo/

Alternative home heating solutions, plus 5 tips to save this winter!

Posted by Kelsey Loeffler on Tue,Jan 13,2015 @ 10:36 AM

"More Shivery and Shovelry" are the words the Farmer's Almanac chose to describe their prediction of this winter. I don't know about you, but after last years long, brutal winter those are words I didn't want to hear. That leaves most of us wondering, could it be as bad as last year?

According to the 2015 edition of the Farmer's Almanac, the winter of 2014-2015 will see below-normal temperatures for about three-quarters of the nation. The most frigid temperatures will be found from the Northern Plains to the Great Lakes. Over the eastern third of the country, expect an active storm track with a number of storms delivering copious amounts of snow and rain.

alternative home heating solutions

Millions of Americans do not currently use alternative home heating solutions and rely on fossil fuels and their volatile pricing. The propane shortage last winter affected around 14 million Americans and it was very difficult for them to pay the inflated prices.

Interest in alternative home heating solutions seems to be growing immensly after last winters unexpected fossil fuel prices. Many Americans are searching out these solutions so that they have a stable home heating for this chilly winter ahead of us.



EIA is predicting a likely 9-13 percent increase in heating costs this winter. Whether you use an alternative heating method to heat your home now or haven't yet jumped on that band wagon, here are 5 tips to keep warm and help you save this winter.

1. Plug leaks and drafts.

Take simple steps like caulking windows, sealing leaks around chimneys and recessed lighting, and  sliding draft guards under your doors and you can save up to 20% on heating bills.

2. Maintain your HVAC system.

Make sure to clean or change your furnace filter regularly. A dirty furnace filter will slow down air flow, making the system work harder to keep you warm and costing you more money.

3. Let your thermostat think for you.

Don't waste money heating an empty home. Install a programmable thermostat and schedule your homes heat to lower when you are away or asleep.

4. Invite the sun in.

Yes it feels like the sun has abandoned us during the winter, but that doesn't mean we should abandon it during these shorter days. Open curtains and allow sunlight to naturally heat your home.

5. Use LED's.

LED light bulbs save you money year round but especially during the holiday season when you are lighting up your lawn with the most colorful display possible. During the holiday season, LED lights use up to 90% less energy and can last up to 40 holiday seasons.


Whether you use an alternative home heating solution or not, we wish you the best on staying warm and saving money this winter!

I'll end this post with a quote from the Farmer's Almanac; "All of us at the Farmer's Almanac suggest you stock up on firewood, sweaters and hot cocoa. It certainly looks like another long winter of shivery and shovelry is on tap."

Topics: woodmaster stove, affordability of wood heating, affordability of heating with wood, wood home heating, energy-efficient heating, alternative energy

Alternative home heating solutions, plus 5 tips to save this winter.

Posted by Kelsey Loeffler on Mon,Oct 06,2014 @ 11:39 AM


"More Shivery and Shovelry" are the words the Farmer's Almanac chose to describe their prediction of this winter. I don't know about you, but after last years long, brutal winter those are words I didn't want to hear. That leaves most of us wondering, could it be as bad as last year?

According to the 2015 edition of the Farmer's Almanac, the winter of 2014-2015 will see below-normal temperatures for about three-quarters of the nation. The most frigid temperatures will be found from the Northern Plains to the Great Lakes. Over the eastern third of the country, expect an active storm track with a number of storms delivering copious amounts of snow and rain.

alternative home heating solutions

Millions of Americans do not currently use alternative home heating solutions and rely on fossil fuels and their volatile pricing. The propane shortage last winter affected around 14 million Americans and it was very difficult for them to pay the inflated prices.

Interest in alternative home heating solutions seems to be growing immensly after last winters unexpected fossil fuel prices. Many Americans are searching out these solutions so that they have a stable home heating for this chilly winter ahead of us.



EIA is predicting a likely 9-13 percent increase in heating costs this winter. Whether you use an alternative heating method to heat your home now or haven't yet jumped on that band wagon, here are 5 tips to keep warm and help you save this winter.

1. Plug leaks and drafts.

Take simple steps like caulking windows, sealing leaks around chimneys and recessed lighting, and  sliding draft guards under your doors and you can save up to 20% on heating bills.

2. Maintain your HVAC system.

Make sure to clean or change your furnace filter regularly. A dirty furnace filter will slow down air flow, making the system work harder to keep you warm and costing you more money.

3. Let your thermostat think for you.

Don't waste money heating an empty home. Install a programmable thermostat and schedule your homes heat to lower when you are away or asleep.

4. Invite the sun in.

Yes it feels like the sun has abandoned us during the winter, but that doesn't mean we should abandon it during these shorter days. Open curtains and allow sunlight to naturally heat your home.

5. Use LED's.

LED light bulbs save you money year round but especially during the holiday season when you are lighting up your lawn with the most colorful display possible. During the holiday season, LED lights use up to 90% less energy and can last up to 40 holiday seasons.


Whether you use an alternative home heating solution or not, we wish you the best on staying warm and saving money this winter!

I'll end this post with a quote from the Farmer's Almanac; "All of us at the Farmer's Almanac suggest you stock up on firewood, sweaters and hot cocoa. It certainly looks like another long winter of shivery and shovelry is on tap."


 

Topics: woodmaster stove, affordability of wood heating, wood home heating, energy-efficient heating, alternative energy, alternative home heating

Do gasification boilers work?

Posted by Kelsey Loeffler on Wed,Sep 10,2014 @ 10:17 AM

Flex Fuel furnaceIt depends on how you define work. Work in terms of saving money? Work in terms of efficiency? Work in terms of producing heat? The answer is yes, to all of those. Mike Greason once told a joke about heating with wood; he said, "You want to get warm from the fire, not from running back and forth to the wood pile." I think we've accomplished what Mike set us out to do, in more ways than one.

We heated with oil and have a few oil fired boiler, along with a large older home. Our hot water is electric and we use a lot of it with a teenage daughter. We installed a WoodMaster Flex Fuel furnace about a year ago. Our decision to try the Flex Fuel furnace comes on the heels of $5,000 and $7,000 a year heating oil bills that are just too high for our family. "Thermostat Anxiety" I like to call it.

The Flex Fuel choice was based on my cousins's nudging, he has an outdoor wood boiler. He has a similar old home that cost just too much to heat. I was torn between choosing the convenience of pellets and the free wood from thinning our woodlot to heat our home. My decision was made when I saw the Flex Fuel. I no longer had to be torn between my frugal side and enjoying the convenience of pellets. It burns wood or pellets.

I have a never-ending desire to be more responsible in my use of energy. Years ago, I had an eye opening conversation with a fellow on a plane who had a unique insight into the future of global energy that is not available to the general public.

This past winter I was on business in the Midwest and took a detour up to WoodMaster in Minnesota, to learn about the Flex Fuel furnace before I purchased it. The two days I was in Minnesota the air temperature was minus 37 degrees both days. I had never been to Minnesota, it is a very flat open area. We drove for two hours on a country highway as straight as a ruler without hitting a stop sign before finding WoodMaster's corporate office in an industrial park. There was a sea of outdoor wood boilers around their offices. I was surprised to see how many there were. Thousands of them lined up like little soldiers in the arctic air.

We met the WoodMaster staff, which is mostly family, are very inviting, and really love what they do. Warren and Lynn took me through a two day adventure with the Flex Fuel furnace. It is a very advanced piece of heating equipment. It is computerized, and is European technology they are producing here in the USA. Before learning about the furnace, we had to learn about our homes BTU loss and what we would be heating. Lynn and Warren insisted we have the facts before we jump into the furnace.

The Flex Fuel boiler is much smaller than I expected, it looked more like a new car in a showroom. Inside there is a large circuit board with a lot of connections. It's called the Flex Fuel because it can burn wood and pellets, and can be programmed or installed in many different ways to fit any installation. It can heat a home, water, hot tubs, garages, outbuilding and driveways.

Flex Fuel furnaceWe purchased a 30kW Flex Fuel and installed it at our home. We built a shed for the Flex Fuel. I also figured I'd be bringing wood from the woodlot to the house and I didn't want to track in the dirt that comes from firewood. The shed is 10 feet by 10 feet. This left a little extra room for some pellets and wood to be stored. I even built the roof a little long with an overhang to have a place to store wood out of the rain and weather. I also added lighting to allow us to get to the shed easily in the long dark days of winter. After building the shed it was time to set the boiler. I had to use our log truck to set the boiler in place, it weights 1,400 pounds. There was some work inside the house adding plate exchanges to the boiler and water heater.

After we finished the install, we could not wait to try the boiler. We went right up to the woodlot and found a standing dead ash tree, which was our first source of heat. The ash tree burned very well. We'd been burning wood in the boiler for a month or so before a business trip took me away again. What was I to do? The boiler needs to be loaded almost every day depending upon the outside temperature. Ask my family to load the boiler? I decided to throw some pellets in the bin and see how this boiler runs on pellets. Away I went, nervously trusting the Flex Fuel and an untested bin of pellets. I have a family member next door who agreed to check the house and make sure it was warm. I returned three days later from my business trip with a fully heated house and some pellets left in the bin. Success!

I learned I really enjoyed the convenience of pellets. They burn evenly and I only have to visit the shed about every 3-5 days. This is important for me. I travel quite a bit and did not hve time this year to stockpile wood. I did however find time to help my cousin Billy store up 14 cords for his outdoor stove! When I was burning wood, I found we only needed about 4-5 pieces of standard firewood a day to heat our house. I liked burning a mix of pine and hardwood. Our buffer tank is large, so burning the pine works well for us. We have lots of pine and I hate seeing it go to waste. Burning hardwood produces more heat, but again, I have endless pine thinning.

The Flex Fuel heats our water too. This is where we noticed unexpected savings. Our electric bill is down about 30% every month. We found this added benefit to be the most delightful part of using the boiler. The hot water never runs out. We can shower, run laundry and do dishes without ever having to think if we have enough hot water.

I love pellets, they are easy, burn well, and leave me to do other things. Next year, I'm sure I'll burn more wood, as my schedule is not as full as it was this past year. It is work to pick up bags of pellets and load the bin, but certainly less than gathering, splitting and stacking wood. We are contemplating installing a large grain bin and auger to get a truckload of pellets for next season. That remains to be analyzed on the dollars and cents though. I am very proud we only ordered a hundred gallons of heating oil for emergency use. When we got stuck out of state in a snow storm this winter season, our emergency oil came in handy. Our oil boiler kicked on when the pellets ran out. I don't miss the huge oil bills and calling around to find the best price for oil.

Do gasification boilers work? We certainly are saving money in the long run. I estimate we will save about $4,900 a year in oil costs and about $225 a year in electric costs. It will take us about four years to recover our investment and begin saving the money we are spending. We will keep the thermostats wherever we want them and the hot water will run as long as we want. I find that buying the pellets and splitting wood involve some physical work, but it feels good physically, and in my soul. We certainly have not found an overall permanent energy solution for our country. Until then, I'll do my part right here, in my little corner of it.

Article written by Charles Bulson. Charles Bulson is a proud NYFOA member.

Topics: affordable fuel, alternative energy sources, affordable heat, affordable heating source, residential wood heat, expensive winter heat, woodmaster, flexfuel, high efficiency furnace, woodmaster flexfuel series, pellet furnace, Pellet furnaces, WoodMaster FlexFuel, EPA qualified furnace, EPA qualified, Flex Fuel, alternative energy, alternative heating, alternative fuel, renewable energy, wood pellet heat, wood pellet heating, wood master, home heating, alternative home heating, gasification boilers, gasification boiler

Setting the Wood Stove Standard

Posted by Kelsey Loeffler on Wed,May 07,2014 @ 01:25 PM

WoodMaster Commercial SeriesRed Lake Falls, MN – Northwest Manufacturing, the builder and distributor of WoodMaster wood-burning furnaces, is pleased to announce that it has been awarded an H stamp from ASME, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The H stamp signifies that ASME has carefully reviewed Northwest Manufacturing's wood-fired pressurized boilers and certifies that they are built in strict accordance with ASME's exacting standards for safety and performance. Northwest Manufacturing is the only company in Minnesota that is ASME-certified to build wood-fired pressurized boilers. Almost every single pressurized boiler manufactured in the United States is ASME approved, and now there is a safe wood-fired boiler option built in Minnesota.

“ASME has set the bar for manufacturing boilers and pressure vessels for almost 100 years,” says Bruce Gagner, co-founder of Northwest Manufacturing. “We're extremely proud to say that our wood-fired pressurized boilers have been tested and found to meet that standard.” WoodMaster's boilers can heat buildings from residential to larger commercial sizes, and all boiler models offer complete combustion for low emissions. Their three-pass boilers increase heating efficiency and provide a British thermal unit (BTU) output as high as 6.8 million Btu/hr with the option of burning wood pellets or chips.

ASME certification opens up the potential savings of using wood-burning boilers to people and businesses that currently use fossil fuels to heat their buildings. Wood can be a much less expensive fuel option compared to typical sources of energy, saving big money for those who replace fossil fuels or electric power. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, residential propane prices have trended upward since 2000, and spiked to nearly $3.50 per gallon during the past winter. “With the price of propane and other fuels on the rise, burning cheap, renewable, locally sourced wood just looks more and more attractive,” says Gagner.

And now a reliable, Minnesota-built and ASME-certified option to do exactly that will be widely available. 

About ASME

ASME is a not-for-profit membership organization that enables collaboration, knowledge sharing, career enrichment, and skills development across all engineering disciplines, toward a goal of helping the global engineering community develop solutions to benefit lives and livelihoods. Founded in 1880 by a small group of leading industrialists, ASME has grown through the decades to include more than 130,000 members in 158 countries. ASME is the leading international developer of codes and standards associated with the art, science, and practice of mechanical engineering.

About WoodMaster

WoodMaster furnaces are manufactured and distributed by Northwest Manufacturing of Red Lake Falls, Minnesota. Since 1989, WoodMaster has built industry-leading outdoor furnaces, continually finding innovative uses of natural energy and alternative fuel sources. The company is now the first to manufacture bioenergy flex fuel furnaces.

The company's growing network of dealers and contractors helps consumers find the right WoodMaster furnace for their heating requirements. All WoodMaster dealers carry a full line of parts and accessories and provide attentive, expert service at installation and throughout the life of each furnace.

Northwest Manufacturing also provides underfloor heating, water distribution systems and snow and ice melting systems, as well as other HeatLink solutions.

Topics: commercial boiler, commercial boilers, Commercial Series, woodmaster, pellet furnace, Pellet furnaces, renewable fuel, WoodMaster boiler, renewable energy, wood pellet heating, WoodMaster Commercial Series, affordable heating

Amid soaring propane prices, a rising interest in alternatives

Posted by Kelsey Loeffler on Tue,Feb 11,2014 @ 10:40 AM

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While sky-high propane prices are causing hardships for many businesses and homeowners, they’re also helping generate interest in renewable alternatives such as wood, solar and geothermal.

Companies that sell solar thermal, geothermal and wood furnaces are reporting an uptick in phone calls and inquiries over the past few weeks as propane customers in the region suffer through near-record prices and localized shortages. (photo courtesy Solar Skies)

The evidence is only anecdotal at this point, and most said the buzz hadn’t yet translated into new sales, but at least one shop is ramping up production in anticipation of new orders.

Northwest Manufacturing, which makes wood-fired furnaces under the WoodMaster brand, started offering overtime this week to workers at its factory in Red Lake Falls, Minnesota, as it attempts to double production. It also plans to make up to six new hires.

“It’s been just a blur since [three weeks ago],” said Todd Strem, the company’s sales and marketing manager. “It’s definitely affected us in a positive way.”

This is typically a slow time of year for heating system sales, Strem said, but WoodMaster’s dealers are reporting a steady stream of people stopping in to ask about the furnaces. The company’s website traffic has more than doubled in the last month.

At Strandlund Refrigeration Heating & Cooling in Mora, Minnesota, salesman Rod Herwig said they’re fielding more calls than usual from people curious about geothermal systems.

“I can’t say it’s overwhelming, but to be honest, yeah, there’s more interest right now than there has been for a bit,” Herwig said. “And now is usually our quiet time.”

Herwig estimated that they’ve received six or seven phone calls in the past two weeks from people seeking quotes or other information about geothermal systems. During busier months, it’s typically only four or five per month.

It’s too soon to say whether that interest will translate into new sales and installations. Herwig suspects that will depend on what happens to propane price in the coming weeks.

“We’ll know six months from now,” Herwig said.

It’s the same story at Solar Skies Manufacturing in Alexandria, Minnesota. The company manufacturers solar thermal systems for hot water and space heating.

“We can feel the interest level has picked up in the last two weeks,” said CEO Randy Hagen. “It’s too early to convert that into new orders yet, but our quoting level for those types of customers has definitely increased — a lot.”

A solar thermal system won’t entirely eliminate a home or business’s heating bill, but a typical system might cover 65 percent of water heating or 30 percent of space heating.

The price for a system varies significantly depending on the size, features and location, but an average cost for a residential system is around $10,000, Hagen said. Some of that cost can be offset with state and federal incentives.

However, amid a spike in propane prices, the payback time on solar thermal, geothermal, and wood heating systems looks much better today than it did at the start of winter.

Northwest Manufacturing sold a WoodMaster system to a school in northeastern Minnesota that was previously heated with propane. Strem said the original payback time it calculated for the school was around six or seven years.

If propane and wood pellet prices were to stay where they’re at — a big “if” — Strem said the school district could break even on their investment in as little as two years.

The Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, a Minnesota nonprofit that manufactures and sells subsidized solar furnaces to low-income families, isn’t yet sure how the propane pinch will affect its program, but program manager Shannon Wheeler said it certainly underscores its importance.

“It makes that work all the more necessary,” Wheeler said. “Our families that are on propane and also have a solar air heat system … are not going through their propane as quickly and hopefully don’t have to refill with these higher prices.”

How long propane prices stay high will likely determine how much of this winter’s interest in renewable alternatives can be converted into new installations later in the year.

Said Strem: “It’s going to make for an interesting year if this continues.”

Article written by Dan Haugen from Midwest Daily News.

Topics: woodmaster, pellet fuel, pellet furnace, Pellet furnaces, renewable fuel, alternative energy, alternative heating, alternative fuel, natural energy, WoodMaster boiler, renewable energy, wood furnace, wood pellet heat, wood pellet heating, WoodMaster Commercial Series

Getting gouged by propane prices?

Posted by Kelsey Loeffler on Thu,Jan 30,2014 @ 09:54 AM

alternative heatingGetting gouged by propane prices? If so, you're not alone. Some 14 million Americans who rely on propane have been shelling out more and more to heat their homes while the strong demand has outpaced the already low inventories, energy officials say.

Now is a better time than ever to switch to alternative energy. Free yourself from the rollercoaster of fluctuating fossil fuel prices.

Don't just take our word for it. Here are some recent articles from around the U.S

_______________________________________________________________________________

Scott Walker declares state of emergency on propane shortage.

Citing another wave of frigid weather bearing down on Wisconsin and dangerously low supplies of propane, Governor Scott Walker has declared a state of emergency. Walker directed all state agencies "to assist as appropriate" in helping residents deal with the propane shortage, which has sent prices soaring and left some users struggling to find a supplier who will provide fuel.

Nearly 250,000 Wisconsin homes heat with propane, many in rural areas not served by natural gas lines.

The shortage — attributed to a colder-than-normal winter, the shutdown of a key supply pipeline earlier in the season and heavy use of propane by farmers to dry grain last fall — has sent prices for many customers well above $5 a gallon. Read the full article here.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Midwest faces propane emergency as more cold weather moves in.

Millions of residents in the Midwest and Northeast who rely on propane to heat their homes are facing a severe shortage and spiking prices as another wave of freezing weather heads east. Now, states across the region are deploying emergency resources as a result.

Blame for the propane shortage lies with the wetter-than-usual fall, which meant that farmers used more propane than usual to dry corn crops; an unusually cold winter; and a temporary shutdown of a major pipeline for maintenance this year.

As a result, propane prices are setting new records. The average price of a gallon of residential propane for the week ending Jan. 20 hit $2.96, according to the Energy Information Administration, up 60 cents from mid-October, the highest price ever recorded by the agency. Prices in the Midwest are even higher; on Friday, prices ended at $4.30 a gallon in the Midwest, down from a peak of about $5 a gallon. Read full article here.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Propane shortage slams farmers.

A propane squeeze caused by January’s bitter cold has put the hurt on Minnesota’s livestock industry, as farmers scramble to find costly fuel to keep their animals warm.

Some turkey growers are being told by suppliers that the propane spigot might get turned off if the cold keeps up over the next week.

Shortage worries are particularly acute in the ­turkey industry, and Minnesota is the nation’s leading turkey-producing state, with about 250 growers.

Fuel suppliers have told some farmers that they have “five days left of propane,” said Steve Olson, executive director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. “The big concern is availability.”

Farmers — along with propane users of all stripes — are paying huge premiums for the fuel these days. Wholesale spot prices in Minnesota have gone from about $3.75 per gallon a few days ago to just south of $5 a gallon. Last fall, the propane price was $1.55 per gallon, and most of the run-up since then has occurred this month. Read full article here.

_______________________________________________________________________________

U.S. propane shortage hits millions during brutal freeze.

Millions of Americans are feeling the pinch of a propane shortage this week as brutal cold exposes the supply vulnerabilities of a fuel that heats homes, schools and businesses across wide swathes of the United States.

Prices of the fuel, a liquefied petroleum gas, have rocketed to all-time highs in Midwestern states, distributors are rationing supplies, and some schools have shut due to a lack of the fuel during this year's second bout of Arctic weather.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued emergency orders suspending the limits on the amount of time truck drivers can spend on the road for 10 Midwestern states and 12 Northeastern states, a rare regional order. Read full article here.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Prolonged cold blast worsens propane shortage across Midwest.

America’s chronic cold is creating a significant propane shortage across the Midwest — leading Wisconsin to become the latest state to declare an energy emergency in advance of more arctic air blasting eastward this week.

Some 14 million Americans who rely on that type of fuel have been shelling out more and more to heat their homes while the strong demand has outpaced the already-low inventories, energy officials say.

Twenty-four states, including Ohio, Illinois and Alabama, have already declared energy emergencies — which helps to loosen transportation rules so that out-of-state truckers can drive longer hours to make needed propane deliveries. Read full article here.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Now is a great time to research alternative heating products. Take the time to learn about the products available to you and the changes the EPA will be making to the wood burning industry.

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NH Introduces Non-Residential Wood Pellet Rebate Program

Posted by Kelsey Loeffler on Tue,Dec 31,2013 @ 11:27 AM

WoodMaster Commercial SeriesNew Hampshire has released a rebate program for commercial and industrial bulk fuel fed wood pellet central heating systems.

Key Components of the Rebate Program:

  • The rebate will cover 30% of the costs of purchase and installation, up to a maximum of $50,000, for investments in non-residential bulk fuel fed wood pellet boilers and furnaces of 2.5 million BTU or less.
  • An additional rebate for 30% of the costs of thermal storage tanks, up to a maximum of $5,000, is also available.
  • The budget for this program is $629,000 for state fiscal year 2014, ending June 30, 2014.
  • The new program also requires rebate recipients to "benchmark" the energy performance of the building that will house the new heating system to demonstrate opportunities for additional efficiency improvements.

Read the full description of the rebate program here.

Read the terms and conditions of the rebate program in Step 1 of the application form here.

Topics: energy-efficient fuel, alternative energy sources, wood pellets, commercial boiler, commercial boilers, Commercial Series, woodmaster, energy-efficient heating, renewable fuel, alternative energy, alternative heating, alternative fuel, natural energy, renewable energy, wood pellet heat, wood pellet heating, WoodMaster Commercial Series, alternative home heating

T-Mac Smokin' is a big winner using WoodMaster Pellet Grills!

Posted by Kelsey Loeffler on Thu,Dec 19,2013 @ 02:50 PM

WoodMaster Pellet GrillsIn the thick sea of luxury RVs, scrappy trailers, tent awnings and dwindling daylight, I found Tom McIntosh of Appleton. The flapping Green Bay Packers flag at his base camp was a dead giveaway on these 20 acres of concrete in Kansas City.

Tom was here to cook this month but didn’t expect to smoke out almost all competitors at the annual American Royal World Series of Barbecue. No other barbecue contest in the world is bigger.

“Taste and tenderness — you gotta rock those two” to stand out, he explained evasively during the twilight hours of slow-and-low roasting, his third American Royal experience.

This pitmaster for one of 563 teams left as a big winner: runner-up (Reserve Grand Champion) in the 174-team invitational division. Only six points (of a possible 720) separated his T-Mac Smokin BBQ Team from the winner, Cool Smoke of Virginia.

Total points are the sum of four meat scores, and T-Mac Smokin’s beef brisket rated a perfect 180 to earn a second trophy. The team’s pork ribs rated sixth, and with these high rankings came about $8,000 in prize money.

“I’m probably as surprised as you,” Tom admits. “I had to take a good look at those (50-pound) trophies the next morning, to make sure this was real.”

He entered meats from Niemuth’s Southside Market in Appleton. His winning combinations of sauce, injections and marinades “are very secret, even more so now,” but Penzeys Spices and Appleton’s Stone Cellar beer figure into the mix.

“It is a balancing act of all of them working in concert to allow saltiness, heat, sweetness, tanginess and stickiness,” Tom offers. The ultimate goal: “fingerlickability that still allows the meat flavor profile to pull through.”

T-Mac Smokin qualified for the invitational after winning the 2012 Death’s Door Barbecue on Washington Island, sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society.

Tom is a backyard grillmaster who with wife Becky took their hobby to the next level by joining Appleton’s Smokin’ Good BBQ Club around 2009, after son Ian and daughter Danielle became adults.

They have entered 30 barbecue contests in four years. Their 4-year-old Yorkie-Shitsu is named Brisket. On their trailer is an altered Scottish family crest that makes room for a Celtic bull and chicken.

“My neighbors have long appreciated T-Mac barbecue,” Tom admits. So has their congregation at St. Pius X Catholic Church, where he began cooking for church picnics as part of the Holy Smokers.

T-Mac Smokin uses a WoodMaster Pellet Grill, and grill designer Jeff Poole is part of the team’s core. Tom is a grill dealer. Culinary program grad Paul Wenzel offered an assist in Kansas City with two side dishes (baked beans and asparagus spears), both of which contained Nueske’s meats from Wittenberg.

Tom’s American Royal team also entered the open division, finishing 20th of 535 teams overall, and the brisket placed fifth. He describes American Royal, with a grin, as “a barbecue freak show” and “end-of-the-year run for us” after competing in 11 other contests this year.

Nearly 50,000 spectators per day attend the World Series of Barbecue for the smoky aromas, music, fireworks, cooking demos and private parties or just to stroll, gawk, drink and eat. Samples of contestants’ entries are not sold or (officially) fed to the public.

Crowds are shooed away by 2 a.m., but for serious contestants or partiers — who come from as far away as Australia and The Netherlands — it can be an all-night affair to hope for the best while babysitting brisket, pork ribs, chicken and pork butt/picnic/shoulder.

The nonprofit event began in 1980 and happens on the first weekend of October. (kcbs.us, americanroyal.com, 816-221-9800.)

 

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