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Warming Up to New Ideas

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PELLET STOVES: NOT BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL
The numbers speak for themselves—a 50 percent savings on heating costs for homeowners that use pellet stoves, says Deidra Darsa, a spokeswoman for the Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association (HPBA), based in Arlington, Virginia.

Pellet stoves are fueled by natural materials that pose little threat to the environment. “Pellet fuel is made from sawdust or forest waste and has no additives, only a natural binder, lignin, that is found in the wood,” Darsa says. “Some stoves are able to burn corn and cherry pits as well.”

She says the cost of heating a home during the heating season would require about three tons of pellets, a total cost of $750 to $1,000. “Consider that each year a homeowner would save over 50 percent using pellets compared to other heating. The US Energy Information Administration reports that during the 2008-09 heating season fuel oil will jump 45 percent from last year and the typical consumer may spend $2,858 during the heating season.”

Another benefit is that pellet stoves are relatively low maintenance. Darsa says the stoves burn very clean, only need to be filled, on average, once a day, and require emptying of the ash pan just once a week. “They are easily installed and can be vented either vertically or horizontally,” she says. “They do require electricity  but only use 573 watts at startup for the igniter and then drop to 200 watts for the blower during operation.”

According to the HPBA, the stoves are growing in popularity—during the first quarter of 2008 compared to the first quarter of 2007, the sale of pellet stoves jumped 54 percent.

Even if you aren’t looking for a heating overhaul, there are small things you can do to ensure you’re getting the most for your money. Tesoro reminds that the most efficient home is a well insulated home, and that homeowners should be sure to schedule professional maintenance and tune-ups of heating equipment to ensure optimal performance. He also warns that as heating prices increase, it’s never worth the risk to bring outdoor equipment inside for heating purposes. “We understand the need to keep warm but please keep safety in mind,” Tesoro says. “Don’t use devices inside that home that are not meant for indoor use. Saving money and saving energy are great, but saving a life is much more important.”

RESOURCES
Advanced Radiant Design
96 Vly Atwood Road, Stone Ridge
(845) 687-0044;
www.radiant-design.com

Hudson Valley Biodiesel Coop
150 Cottekill Road, Cottekill
www.communitybiofuels.com

Central Hudson Gas & Electric
284 South Avenue, Poughkeepsie
(845) 542-2700;
www.centralhudson.com

Hearth, Patio, and Barbeque Association
1901 N. Moore St., Arlington, VA
(703) 522-0086; www.hpba.org

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