Unplugged Energy Independence

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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If you have the wood, we'll bring the heat.

Posted by Kelsey Gagner on Fri,Jan 20,2012 @ 02:52 PM

Jason Osborn, owner of C & C HeatingThat’s the motto of Jason Osborn, founder and owner of C & C Heating in Nokomis, Ill., and one of WoodMaster’s new dealers.

Jason has been in the heating and cooling business for 20 years and started selling WoodMaster stoves in October 2011.

“I’ve been really surprised at how it’s taken off,” says Jason. “I didn’t think we’d sell any stoves by the end of the year, but we sold nine.”

Jason is a WoodMaster newbie, but he’s no rookie to the wood stove industry. After installing stoves distributed by other companies for nine years, Jason decided C & C Heating might as well carry its own line of energy-efficient stoves. Jason currently sells all the WoodMaster stove models, and his best-selling model is the WoodMaster 4400.

“Selling WoodMaster gives us an advantage because we’re now the only heating and air company around that does everything, from selling the stove to installing and maintenance,” says Jason.

One of Jason’s business goals is to offer his customers affordable heating options, a mission in which WoodMaster’s energy-saving stoves fit perfectly. Jason’s customers benefit from lower heating costs, and C & C Heating profits from the increased business.

Jason says he always calls customers to see how they’re liking his products, and every customer that has purchased a WoodMaster stove has been more than pleased with their purchase.

“Everyone loves them and most people wish they would have done it years ago,” he says.

The best thing about being a WoodMaster dealer? The inside edge it gives his company, says Jason.

“If you don’t do something different than everyone else, you don’t stand out. Selling WoodMaster has helped us quite a bit because we offer things that other heating and air companies don’t,” says Jason. “I couldn’t ask for anything better in the stoves.”

Topics: woodmaster stove, dealer spotlight, woodmaster 4400, woodmaster furnace, jason osborn, c & c heating, lower heating cost, heating and cooling, illinois woodmaster dealer, cost-friendly energy, woodmaster, energy-saving boiler, energy-efficient stove, energy-saving stove, WoodMaster boiler, wood master, WoodMaster Dealer, affordable heating, lower heating costs

Rookie WoodMaster dealer believes in energy-saving products like Flex Fuel

Posted by Kelsey Gagner on Wed,Nov 02,2011 @ 10:54 AM

Jack Bingham, owner of Seacoast Energy AlternativesHe’s only been selling WoodMaster Flex Fuel boilers for six months, but Jack Bingham already has confidence that they fit right in with Seacoast Energy Alternatives’ energy-saving product offerings.

His Dover, N.H., store has offered energy conservation strategies for home and business since October 2007, and recently added WoodMaster Flex Fuel to its product offerings in March 2011. The store specializes in solar electric and solar hot water, but their goal is to provide any appliances that offer consumers dramatic ways to save energy.

WoodMaster’s Flex Fuel boilers fit Jack’s sales model perfectly.

“Even though the Flex Fuel is a significant investment, it’s not a hard sell,” Jack explains. “Customers know they can expect cutting-edge, energy-saving products here, and WoodMaster meets this expectation.” The WoodMaster Flex Fuel has about a nine-year return on investment, but with an impressive 12 percent return on your money, it’s well worth the wait. Jack ponders, “Where do you get that kind of return in this day and age?”

In the first six months, Jack has sold two Flex Fuel boilers and “heating season hasn’t even started yet.” He hopes to sell three or four more before the end of 2011.

Jack and his customers are impressed by the boiler’s design. “At tradeshows, it just looks better than anyone else’s. I’m assuming it will perform better than anyone else’s, too.”

Even though he’s new to selling WoodMaster Flex Fuels, Jack anticipates customers being very happy with their energy-efficient boilers. “If the price of oil goes up and up, their smiles will get bigger and bigger.”

Is energy savings at the top of your list when shopping for home appliances? Why or why not?

Topics: dealer spotlight, New Hampshire WoodMaster dealer, Seacoast Energy Alternatives, Jack Bingham, woodmaster, energy-saving boiler, WoodMaster FlexFuel, Flex Fuel, WoodMaster boiler, wood master, WoodMaster Dealer

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