Unplugged Energy Independence

Do Electric Rates Impact Outdoor Wood Heat?

Posted by Kelsey Gagner on Tue,Aug 21,2012 @ 11:49 AM

outdoor wood heatWhen the price of oil goes up, it goes up for everyone. But electricity rates vary by state with residents of some states paying half of what people living in other states pay. New York and Connecticut are saddled with the highest electricity rates in the country, which may have contributed to the rapid rise of wood heating in those states. In the South where electricity rates are the cheapest, the use of outdoor wood heat decreased in most states between 2000 and 2010.

Electric heating has surged in recent years, though not as fast as outdoor wood heat, in part because of efficient heat pumps. The economic disadvantages of fuel oil and propane as heating fuels are often discussed, but electricity is a more complex story.  More than a third of American homes use electricity as the primary source of heat (US Census) and another 24% use it as a secondary heat source (EIA).

An electric boiler costs an estimated $35.05 per million Btu, according to EIA, and an electric space heater, a common appliance used for secondary heating, costs an estimated $34.32 per million Btu.  An EPA certified indoor or outdoor wood stove running at 72% efficiency, in contrast, is estimated to cost only $12.63 per million Btu.      
Consumer rates in Alaska, California, Maryland, New Jersey and Washington DC are on the high side at 14-17 cents per kWh (an average of $41-$50 per BTU for electric heating). The majority of homeowners in the South, West, and mid-West pay 9-13 cents per kWh, which works out to be $26-$38 per BTU. That is a much cheaper rate than some states, but still twice the cost of heating with wood.
Check out the Alliance for Green Heat to read the full article and to view a map of the United States electric rates.
Learn more about outdoor wood heat and see how much money you could save by switching to this renewable, alternative energy heat source.
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WoodMaster Supplies Flex Fuel Series to Silver Bay Greenhouse

Posted by Kelsey Gagner on Tue,Aug 07,2012 @ 11:40 AM

describe the imageThe business park the city of Silver Bay acquired in 1993 is finally filling up.

Victus Farm has joined AmericInn on the property, which the city now calls its eco-industrial business park. The new farm, a collaboration with the University of Minnesota Duluth, will provide jobs as well as local food and energy for the region.

"This really was a big effort," Lana Fralich, Silver Bay city administrator, said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony that took place on Sunday. She thanked the City Council and officials for their foresight in bringing in local jobs for future generations.

The farm is a combination of new technologies. The process starts with fish, tilapia to be exact, grown in large tanks. Next is the greenhouse that holds produce and algae. The fish will provide nutrients for the plants and the plants will oxygenate the water for the fish.

The algae will be made into biofuel, the tilapia will be sold to Harley Tofte, operator of Dockside Fish Market in Grand Marais, and the produce will be sold locally.

Ellen Anderson, adviser to Gov. Mark Dayton, made the trip to Silver Bay for the ceremony. She addressed a crowd of more than 100.

"Local foods and local energy means local jobs and local economic prosperity," Anderson said.

The story started in 1993, when the city purchased land for a business park from Lake County.

"Since the early 2000s, we've tried to make it work," Silver Bay Mayor Scott Johnson said.

The city courted many businesses, but AmericInn was the only one they could convince, until now.

The city began discussions with the Center for Sustainable Community Development at UMD more than three years ago and held the groundbreaking ceremony for the facility in October 2011.

"This is exactly the innovative, important project UMD should be involved with in the 20th century," said Susan Maher, dean at the UMD College of Liberal Arts.

The city and Lake County, supplemented by numerous local and state grants, supplied the $1.3 million needed for the farm.

The first grant of $300,000 came from the Minnesota Legislature. Fralich and Mike Mageau of the CSCD at UMD did their best to stretch their money, Fralich said.

All the construction labor was local. City crews did the prep work, Lakeside Masonry did the concrete work and Ray Riihiluoma Inc. completed most of the construction. WoodMaster, a local biomass company, supplied the pellet boilers that will heat the facility and water.

The final step will be the installation of a wind turbine near the water tower to power the facility. The city is in the process of finalizing the agreement.

The city hopes to expand the eco-industrial business park to include a pellet manufacturing facility that can feed the boilers at Victus Farm, Fralich said. The nearest pellet facility is in Hayward, Wis.

The farm will bolster the local economy and serve UMD, too, Mageau said. The site will be used for education, research and as proof that a system like Victus Farm can work in a small community like Silver Bay.

"This has really been an amazing project," Mageau said. "Silver Bay has been by far one of the best communities to work with."

 

Learn more about WoodMaster's Flex Fuel Series.

Topics: affordable fuel, bioenergy flex fuel furnace, alternative energy sources, affordable heating source, EPA qualified furnace, EPA qualified, Flex Fuel, affordable heating, energy independence

Wolf Ridge Learning Center Installs Commercial Boilers

Posted by Kelsey Gagner on Thu,Jul 26,2012 @ 01:46 PM

Commercial BoilersMinnesota-based WoodMaster and Swedish-based ABioNova, along with The BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota and Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center (Wolf Ridge) are celebrating installation of the first in a series of "Made in America" commercial wood pellet boiler system. The innovative wood pellet system, known as the WoodMaster Commercial Series Boiler, uses the latest in computer-controlled technology to maintain the highest possible efficiency.

The Wolf Ridge commercial boilers installation is the result of a unique regional and international partnership. Northwest Manufacturing of Red Lake Falls, Minn., has its own brand, WoodMaster Commercial Series, plus serves as the North American distributor for biomass manufacturer ABioNova. Utilizing ABioNova experience and master techniques for boiler plants, the companies have brought the Commercial Series boiler to customers in the U.S. market.

The team has installed several commercial boilers in the northeastern U.S., but the installation at Wolf Ridge in Finland represents one of their initial projects in Minnesota - and one of the biggest projects completed jointly by these two companies.

Wolf Ridge will use the commercial boilers not just as an energy source, but also as an educational tool to teach students about renewable resources.

"This new wood pellet system is bringing both economic and educational benefits," said Chuck Gagner, president of Northwest Manufacturing, "not only to Wolf Ridge, but to the community at large as it demonstrates how local partners can work together to advance technology and capture as much energy spending in their local communities as possible."

To read more on this interesting topic check out our Newsroom.

Commercial Boilers

 

Topics: alternative energy sources, affordable heat, affordability of heating with wood, commercial boiler, commercial boilers, energy-efficient heating, alternative energy, alternative fuel, energy independence

Choose Wood Heating.

Posted by Kelsey Gagner on Wed,Jun 13,2012 @ 11:14 AM

Outdoor Wood Heating SystemWith the ever-increasing price of oil, natural gas and electricity, many homeowners are now considering using wood to heat their homes and workshops. Along with the potential cost savings that an outdoor wood heating system or other type of efficient wood stove can provide on home heating bills, using wood as your home heating fuel of choice is great for the environment - here's why:

1.Wood Is a Renewable Source of Energy

Any type of wood can be used for heating including trees that are storm damaged, diseased and unsuitable for other uses like furniture production. Trees grow quickly, require minimal care and new trees can be planted immediately after existing trees are harvested. Trees that are used for heating fuel are often grown in areas that would otherwise be unusable for any other purpose including traditional agriculture, housing or commercial development.

2. Burning Wood Is Carbon-Neutral

As a tree grows it acts as a natural air filter, absorbing carbon dioxide from the environment and in turn releasing pure oxygen back into the air. When wood is burned in an outdoor wood heating system or other appliance, the carbon dioxide the fire creates is equal to the amount of carbon dioxide that the tree absorbed during it's life, a process that is commonly referred to as the "carbon cycle". The same thing happens when a tree dies and decays naturally: the carbon dioxide it absorbed while growing is slowly released back into the environment as the tree breaks down and rots.

3. Wood Is Locally Sourced

Unlike other heating fuels like oil, natural gas and coal which are often shipped thousands of miles across international borders before reaching the consumer, wood that is burned for heating is usually sourced close to where it will be purchased and used.

Traditional fossil fuels are nonrenewable, costly to extract and transport, and require a complex system of distribution to get the fuels to the end user, the customer. By contrast, wood is 100 percent renewable and getting the fuel to the end user is usually a very simple, straightforward process that can be as easy as cutting down a tree in your own back yard or buying the wood from your local firewood dealer.

4. Outdoor Wood Heating Systems Can Heat Your Household Water

In addition to providing an eco-friendly and affordable source of home heating, an outdoor wood heating system can serve double-duty as a water heater. Many models of outdoor wood furnaces are hydronic which use hot water to transfer heat to a home. That same hot water can be captured and used for your household hot water needs with the installation of a simple heat exchanger, eliminating the need for a gas or electric water heater.

If you already burn wood, do you know where the type of wood you burn ranks? Using good, seasoned wood is an important part of getting high efficiencies out of your outdoor wood heating system, and in turn, saves you even more money.

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Topics: eco-friendly, woodmaster outdoor wood-burning furnaces, affordable fuel, alternative energy sources, rising cost of fossil fuels, affordable heat, affordable heating source, affordability of wood heating, affordability, affordability of heating with wood, energy-efficient stove, energy-efficient heating, alternative fuel, energy independence, alternative home heating, outdoor wood furnace, outdoor hydronic heater, outdoor wood furnaces

Homeowners Investing in Energy-efficiency

Posted by Kelsey Gagner on Mon,Apr 09,2012 @ 02:35 PM

According to a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive, 61% of homeowners say they are unaware of any current tax rebates and/or incentives for energy-efficient home upgrades in their area.

If you are in this category, there are many resources available to help you out.  One of the best we have found is DSIRE.

DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.  Established in 1995 and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, DSIRE is an ongoing project of the N.C. Solar Center and Interstate Renewable Energy Council.

With two easy ways to search for incentives in your area, this site is very user-friendly. 

Go to http://www.dsireusa.org/ and use one of the following two options to find incentives in your area:

    1. Click on your state.  A list of incentives for your state will be brought up.

    1. Click on the ‘Search DSIRE’ box and fill in the information that pertains to you and a list of the incentives available will be brought up.


 To find a WoodMaster dealer near you check out our dealer locator.

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How one WoodMaster dealer helps people get off the grid...for good

Posted by Kelsey Gagner on Tue,Feb 28,2012 @ 02:45 PM


describe the imageMarc Spinale’s first venture with alternative energy began when he constructed his own solar panel at just seven years old.

Now, he’s started Grid be Gone, a company that sells products to help people become less dependent on the power grid—products that now include WoodMaster stoves.

“My vision is that all people can live in an energy-independent way, and my goal is to offer products and services to help people get there,” says Marc.

After launching Grid Be Gone in spring of 2011, Marc began researching a heating option that would fit his company’s niche. He found WoodMaster and has never looked back.

“With WoodMaster stoves, customers can burn a convenient pellet fuel or, if they live in a rural area, utilize the resources in their own backyard to generate their heat for free.”

Marc has been selling the WoodMaster Flex Fuel Series since July 2011 and plans to start carrying pellet furnaces, including the WoodMaster Force/Renovator Natural Energy heating systems, in the coming months.

Marc says he has had a lot of interest in the stoves so far. People are most excited by the fact that they can burn multiple fuels in the same stove and that they are made in the U.S., he says.

Besides being able to offer his customers a green product that helps lower their heating costs, for Marc, one of the greatest rewards of being a dealer is simply working with the folks at WoodMaster.

“They provide top-notch support to their dealers, and you know they’re standing behind their products,” says Marc. “Working with WoodMaster has allowed me to enter the industry with confidence.”

Grid Be Gone currently sells products through an online store and website, but in spring 2012, customers will be able to check out the stoves in person at his new retail store in downtown Peterborough, N.H.

Visit Grid Be Gone’s Facebook page to see pictures of Marc and his crew installing
WoodMaster stoves and stay updated on the latest energy-efficient trends.

Topics: grid be gone, renovator natural heating system, dealer spotlight, woodmaster force, New Hampshire WoodMaster dealer, north pack renewables, get off grid, green products, marc spinale, woodmaster, energy-efficient heating, pellet fuel, woodmaster flexfuel series, wood master, WoodMaster Dealer, energy independence, lower heating costs

Heating oil prices to spike in Northeast this winter

Posted by Kelsey Gagner on Fri,Dec 02,2011 @ 10:51 AM

December already? Heat is a big deal this time of year, and according to a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), it’s likely to be quite expensive as well.

Oil prices have continued to increase in the Northeast, even more so than previous years. This year’s 33-cent price jump brings the cost of oil to $3.71/gallon.
Winter heating oil and natural gas Northeast Residential prices

Many consumers are thinking the same thing and primarily switching to gas. But switching from oil to gas doesn’t solve the underlying problem—prices are skyrocketing because we’re depending on limited, nonrenewable resources, where the price is controlled by someone other than us.

Currently, only four percent of the Northeast’s thermal energy comes from renewable, American-grown resources, like wood. Why such a low number?

Clearly there’s room and reason for change. WoodMaster has implemented some ways to help lower the cost of making the switch. Read about WoodMaster’s surprising affordability. Individual states are also offering many incentive programs for renewable heating, further helping to lower the cost of change.

An added benefit of growing the wood thermal heat market in the Northeast is the creation of new jobs. The Biomass Thermal Energy Council estimates over 140,000 jobs could be created as a result of a 25% penetration in the Northeast.

Steadily increasing oil and gas prices will eventually force everyone to make the switch to alternative, renewable energy sources. Why not stay ahead of the curve, enjoy some serious ROI on your heating investment and become energy independent now?

Topics: Wood furnaces, alternative energy sources, rising cost of thermal energy, rising cost of fossil fuels, expensive heating fuel, inexpensive wood heating, woodmaster, Pellet furnaces, Flex Fuel, renewable energy, wood master, energy independence

Oil prices continue to rise in Northeast, pricey winter projected

Posted by Kelsey Gagner on Tue,Oct 25,2011 @ 10:55 AM

From 2003 to 2010, the cost of heating oil in the Northeast Census Region has more than doubled, from $1.45 to $3.38 per gallon. And 2011 doesn’t look any less expensive, with a record-breaking $3.71 per gallon, as projected by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Oil prices continue to rise in Northeast, pricey winter projectedIf that’s not enough to make you invest in some serious blankets and footed PJs, get this: residential heating oil prices are expected to set a new record this winter, averaging $26.77 per million BTUs, an increase of 10 percent over last winter!

Natural gas isn’t far behind, with an anticipated five percent increase from last winter’s costs.

Why the steady rise?

Heating oil prices largely reflect crude oil prices. For example, the average cost of crude oil to U.S. refiners increased from an average of $24 per barrel in 2003 to $99 per barrel in 2011. Depending on others for our fuel gives us no say in the price.

How to avoid expensive winters

Well, we have a simple solution: use an alternative heat source that doesn’t require fossil fuels to run. WoodMaster wood furnaces are an investment, but they pay for themselves in a matter of years. You’ll be doing the earth—and your wallet—a favor.

Interested in saving fuel dollars this winter? Purchase a WoodMaster Flex Fuel Furnace by the end of November and receive a $2,000 rebate! Let’s talk.

Topics: Wood furnaces, expensive winter heat, affordability of wood heating, independent heating option, rising heating fuel cost, affordability, inexpensive heating option, woodmaster, high efficiency furnace, Flex Fuel, wood master, energy independence

Wood heating is hot again

Posted by Kelsey Gagner on Tue,Oct 18,2011 @ 11:10 AM

As oil costs continue to climb, people continue to seek alternative home heating options. According to the recently released US Census figures, wood home heating is growing the fastest.

Between 2000 and 2010, wood heating grew by 34%, beating electricity by 10%.

Michigan and Connecticut lead the way, with increases of 135% and 122%, respectively. (These percentages reflect households using wood as a primary heat source.) Six other states increased wood heating by more than 90%: New Hampshire (99%), Massachusetts (99%), Maine (96%), Rhode Island (96%), Ohio (95%) and Nevada (91%). 
Rural phenomenon

Not surprisingly, wood heating’s rapid rise is taking place in the country. According to the US Census, 57% of households who primarily heat with wood live in rural areas, another 40% in suburban areas and only 3% in urban areas.

Average Joe’s making the switch

We’ve mentioned before how affordable wood heating can be. The census data supports this claim: low and middle-income households are much more likely to use wood as a primary heating fuel. Residential wood heat accounts for 80% of residential renewable energy. 

Wood is good

President of the Alliance for Green Heat, a non-profit organization based in Maryland, John Ackerly explains, “The rise of wood heat is good news for offsetting fossil fuels, achieving energy independence, creating jobs and helping families affordably heat their homes.”

Over the last decade, households using fossil fuels as their heat source have significantly declined: propane dropped 16% and oil 21%. Those who switched to wood cut their home heating bills by half or more.

Home fuel rankings

Considering both primary and secondary heating fuel, wood now ranks third in fuels used, following gas and electricity. When only primary heat is considered, wood ranks fifth, after oil and propane as well.

As of 2010, 2.1% of American homes, or 2,382,737 households, use wood as a primary heat source. That’s up from 1.6% in 2000.

Have you switched to wood as your home’s primary heat source? What fueled your decision to switch?

Topics: Wood furnaces, wood as heating fuel, affordability of heating with wood, wood home heating, wood heating, woodmaster, wood master, energy independence, alternative home heating

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