Biomass Boilers – Cut your heating bills AND claim Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive tariffs for 7 years

Biomass boilers cost around half as much as LPG boilers to run and are 30% cheaper than boilers which use heating oil.  Householders can also claim Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive tariff payments for seven years for installing biomass boilers.

Biomass Boiler Grants mean that householders can install a biomass boiler and not only slash their heating bills but also claim Domestic RHI tariff payments for seven years

Windhager Biomass Boiler

Biomass boilers are clean and easy to operate

Biomass boilers work in a similar way to LPG boilers and oil-fired boilers in that they burn fuel to create heat; it’s just that they are very much cheaper to run than both of these types of boiler.  Biomass boilers are also clean, easy to operate and they offer controllable heat for your home.

Under a Government scheme to promote renewable energy, Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive tariffs will be paid to you for seven years for installing biomass boilers.  Taking Domestic RHI tariff receipts together with savings in your heating bills, the financial benefit could be well over £30,000 less the installation cost of your biomass boiler.  Domestic biomass boilers cost from around £12,000 to install.

Is your home off the gas grid?

If you do not have a gas supply to your home and you are forced to use LPG, oil or coal, you can now take advantage of the Government’s Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme to switch to biomass.  By installing a biomass boiler you will benefit from much lower heating bills and you will be paid Domestic RHI tariff payments for seven years.

Complete the form on this page and you will receive a free survey which will include advice about the correct size and type of biomass boiler for your home, a fixed price quotation and more information about the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.  You will also be provided with an estimate of the forecast savings in your heating bills and the value of the Domestic RHI tariff payments you should be able to claim over the seven year period.

Biomass Boilers burn wood pellets to create heat

Wood pellets for biomass boilers

Biomass boilers operate in a similar way to conventional mains gas, LPG and oil-fired boilers in that they burn fuel to heat water which is used in central heating radiators and also to provide hot water for use in your home.  The main differences with biomass boilers involve the way in which biomass fuel is delivered to the burners and the fact that they produce a small amount of waste in the form of ash.

Wood pellet fuel is fed to biomass boilers automatically from an integrated hopper, through an auger (a screw-type conveyor) and into the combustion chamber.  Biomass boiler grants will allow you to save money on your existing LPG or oil heating bills AND pay Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive tariffs to you for seven years.

Modern condensing biomass boilers operate at near 100% efficiency, which is better than most condensing mains gas boilers.  Biomass boilers can generally be installed as part of an existing central heating system to replace an oil or LPG boiler, so you shouldn’t need to change all of the existing pipework and radiators. Biomass boilers offer sustainable, renewable, carbon-neutral energy, which cannot be said of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and LPG and biomass boilers will allow you to take advantage of biomass technology without it costing you a fortune.

Biomass energy is a mature, proven technology and has been used successfully for many years in countries such as Austria, Finland and Denmark.  Biomass heating systems are extremely efficient and include biomass stoves which can be used to heat a single room or biomass boilers which provide power for your central heating and to supply hot water, just like a normal gas central heating system. According to the Carbon Trust ‘using biomass is one of the (few) cost effective and practical ways to provide space heating (and) hot water from a low carbon source’.

Biomass Boiler Grants – Financial incentives for installing biomass boilers 

Until recently, householders installing biomass boilers probably did so because they offer a ‘green, more environmentally friendly’ solution to their heating requirements but with the introduction of new biomass boiler grants that has all changed. The higher installation cost of biomass boilers, albeit partly mitigated by lower running costs, was a price they were prepared to pay to avoid the use of fossil fuels, biomass boiler grants has changed that.

With the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, which was launched on 9th April 2014, switching from oil or LPG, taking advantage of biomass boiler grants now offers an excellent financial proposition to householders. Installing biomass boilers with the help of biomass boiler grants are not only much cheaper to run than most other forms of heating but by participating in the Domestic RHI scheme you will receive tariff payments of several thousands of pounds per year for switching from using fossil fuels to biomass boilers. Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive tariff payments for biomass boilers are guaranteed, index linked and payable for 7 years, proving that biomass boiler grants make sense.

Running costs for biomass boilers are 50% cheaper than LPG – Biomass boilers installed with the help of biomass boiler grants are ideal for farms and rural homes not on the mains gas grid because of the relative inefficiency and high cost of fossil fuels such as oil and LPG, compared to biomass wood pellet fuel.

Burning wood pellets in biomass boilers costs approximately 4.3 pence per kilowatt hour (kWh), which makes biomass over 30% cheaper than heating oil (6.4p/kWh) and 50% cheaper than LPG (8.6p/kWh). Factor in the rate at which fossil fuels increase in price, especially during periods of cold weather and it means that for households considering switching to biomass boilers, the financial benefits can no longer be ignored – biomass boiler grants can certainly help.

Heat your home more cheaply with biomass boilers – Using biomass boilers, funded by biomass boiler grants, which burn biomass compacted wood pellets to provide all of the heating and hot water for your home is cheaper per kilowatt hour than natural gas, heating oil, LPG and electricity. The following graph illustrates the cost differences of various domestic fuels, per kilowatt hour of energy generated:

Biomass boilers - Biomass Cost per kWh Compared To Other Fuels

Earn and save by switching to biomass boilers with biomass boiler grants

According to the Energy Saving Trust® for a typical well-insulated four bedroom home, replacing an LPG boiler with a biomass boiler should save around £1,435 per year on heating bills.  In addition, the Domestic RHI scheme will pay thousands of pounds per year in tariff payments (also Energy Saving Trust® figures) based on the estimated heat demand of the property from an EPC report.  For biomass boilers installed using biomass boiler grants, payments are calculated at 12.2p for each kilowatt hour (kWh) of renewable heat generated and used, and once your application has been approved, Domestic RHI tariffs payments are guaranteed for seven years.  Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive tariffs will even rise in line with the Retail Price Index (RPI) every year once you have been accepted into the biomass boiler grants scheme.

The following table illustrates potential savings in energy costs, typical Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive tariff receipts and potential reductions in carbon dioxide emissions which can be achieved by switching from central heating systems which use fossil fuels to biomass boilers if you apply for biomass boiler grants. Figures are provided by the Energy Saving Trust® and are based on wood pellet biomass boilers providing all of the heating and hot water requirements for a well-insulated four bedroom home. Fuel prices are based on energy prices statistics from the Department of Energy and Climate Control.

The table below shows that the greatest potential saving could be made by switching from an LPG boiler to wood pellet biomass boilers when you apply for biomass boiler grants. Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive tariffs are paid for seven years and over this period, taking savings in energy bills together with RHI tariff receipts, the financial benefit could be as much as £33,775, less the installation cost of biomass boilers, which biomass boiler grants can help with.

Existing Fuel Saving In Energy Bills RHI Tariff Receipts Total Anual Saving CO2 Saving Tonnes
Electricity (Storage Heaters) £650 £3,390 £4,040 14.5
Oil (Non Condensing Boiler) £470 £3,390 £3,860 7.5
LPG (Non Condensing Boiler) £1,435 £3,390 £4,825 7.3
Coal £425 £3,390 £3,815 14.5
Gas (Non Condensing Boiler) £80 £3,390 £3,470 6.3

 

Biomass boilers - Annual Savings achieved by switching to biomass energy

Reduce your carbon emissions with biomass renewable energy and biomass boiler grants – In addition to cutting your heating bills, biomass boilers also provide a greener way of heating your home as carbon dioxide emissions are lower than mains gas, LPG, heating oil and electricity. The following graph illustrates how many grams of carbon dioxide are emitted for each kilowatt hour of energy produced by each of these fossil fuels:

Biomass boilers - biomass CO2 emissions compared to fossil fuels

Typical condensing biomass boiler from Grant Engineering (UK) Limited

Biomass boilers

Grant Engineering (UK) Limited have been designing and manufacturing heating appliances for over 35 years and are now a leading heating company in the UK and Ireland. They built their reputation manufacturing award winning oil-fired condensing boilers and the product range now covers renewable technologies such as solar thermal, air source heat pumps and the new Spira range of condensing, wood pellet biomass boilers. Grant Engineering have developed a reputation for innovation, precision engineering and value for money, their biomass boilers are easy to install, efficient, durable and low maintenance.

Fully automatic biomass boilers – Apart from offering a green solution to heating, Grant biomass boilers differ from traditional solid fuel boilers in that they are fully automatic and are more like oil or gas boilers to operate. They have a rapid ignition system, advanced controls which regulate the amount of fuel delivered to the burners to match heat demand and a ‘self-cleaning’ system which reduces maintenance time. Operating in two ways, the self-cleaning system means that the tubes in the condensing unit are periodically washed of any debris and the brazier within the burner is activated to clear the combustion chamber of ash build-up. As a result, under normal operating conditions the Grant Spira range of biomass boilers only requires servicing once every year.

Wide range of outputs for biomass boilers – Grant single unit biomass boilers are available with outputs of 6 to 36 kilowatts (kW), they come with a pellet store/hopper and feed augur which automatically supplies the boiler with wood pellet fuel and they operate at up to 97.4% efficiency. Connecting two boilers together, with a central hopper and twin auger allows systems with an output of up to 72kW to be installed.

High efficiency biomass boilers – Many wood pellet boilers lose up to 20% of the energy they produce through the emission of hot waste gases escaping through the flue into the atmosphere. Grant Spira biomass boilers have a secondary condensing heat exchanger which is designed to capture some of the otherwise lost heat energy and in this way they can operate at very high levels of efficiency.

Approved biomass boilers – Having been accredited by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), Grant Spira biomass boilers have been accepted into the RHI scheme and both the Grant Spira 6-26kW and the Grant 9-36kW condensing wood pellet boilers are on the DEFRA list of appliances which are exempt from the Clean Air Act. This means that they can be installed in urban and city locations without contravening the Clean Air Act of 1993.

Biomass Boilers and Biomass Boiler Grants – FAQs
Biomass Energy
‘Biomass’ is organic material derived from living, or recently living things and domestic biomass fuel normally refers to plant-based material which can be easily burned to release heat energy and biomass boiler grants help you to take advantage of this technology. Biomass boilers now attract biomass boiler grants.  Biomass fuel is carbon-based and can include logs, wood chips & briquettes, food & industrial waste and high energy crops such as miscanthus, willow, rape & maize but modern domestic biomass boilers which attract biomass boiler grants are predominantly designed to use compacted biomass wood pellets.

Wood pellets for biomass boilers and stoves which attract biomass boiler grants are made up of 100% untreated sawdust and wood shavings which are compressed under high pressure into fairly uniformly sized small cylindrical shapes about 30 mm long and 6 – 8 mm in diameter. The pellets are held together by lignin which occurs naturally in wood and unlike logs and wood chips which retain moisture, wood pellets have the moisture removed to allow combustion to start much faster, maximising the amount of energy released to heat your home from using biomass boilers which attract biomass boiler grants.  Biomass boiler grants are now starting to make sense.

The biomass carbon cycle illustrates the re-cycling of carbon dioxide as it is absorbed from the atmosphere by plants and trees as they grow, the conversion of this organic material into biomass fuel and the release back into the atmosphere of carbon dioxide as the biomass fuel is burned. While ever this process continues in a sustainable way, the use of biomass renewable energy in biomass boilers funded by biomass boiler grants  is considered to be carbon neutral and biomass boiler grants help householders to take advantage of this technology whilst being rewarded for doing so.

Through the process of photosynthesis, plants grow by using solar energy from the sun to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and nutrients from the soil. When carbon-based biomass fuel is burned in biomass boilers the carbon dioxide previously absorbed by the plant, is released back into the atmosphere and the stored solar energy is released as heat energy, actually as a by-product of the process. This heat energy is used to provide heating and hot water for your home. Biomass fuel is considered to be a renewable energy because the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere when it is used in biomass boilers funded by biomass boiler grants is limited by the amount previously absorbed whilst the plant was alive. Planting new trees to replace the ones converted to biomass fuel makes biomass energy sustainable and the whole process can be represented in the biomass carbon cycle.

Biomass boilers burn wood pellets and this image shows the biomass carbon cycle

Biomass Carbon Cycle

It is worth noting that if a tree was allowed to die naturally and rot away into the ground, the organic material would break down and it would eventually release its previously absorbed carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. Converting a tree into biomass fuel and burning it simply speeds up this natural process and no more carbon dioxide is released when it is used as heating fuel in biomass boilers funded by biomass boiler grants than would be if nature was left to its own devices. Households who install biomass boilers and pellet-fed biomass stoves funded by biomass boiler grants will only be eligible to receive tariff payments under the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive if they source their wood pellet fuel from biomass fuel suppliers who are registered on the RHI Biomass Suppliers List.

Biomass Boilers
Individual types of boilers are designed to burn specific fuels and just as a gas condensing boiler could not burn heating oil; biomass boilers are designed to burn only biomass fuel.  Biomass boilers funded by biomass boiler grants operate in a similar way to all other types of central heating boilers in that they burn a carbon-based fuel to create heat energy which is transferred to water in the central heating system, before being circulated around your home to the central heating radiators. The heat energy from biomass boilers funded by biomass boiler grants is also used to provide hot water from your taps for use in the home.

The solid fuel which biomass boilers funded by biomass boiler grants use is classed as ‘biomass’ and in the main, includes wood in the form of logs, woodchips and compressed wood pellets. Those boilers considered to be ‘biomass-only’ will qualify for Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive tariffs and with modern boilers that essentially means compacted biomass wood pellets. In fact participants in the scheme will have to source their biomass fuel from a supplier on the RHI Biomass Suppliers List prove that they are using sustainable biomass fuel in their biomass boilers which meets Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive criteria.  However, biomass boiler could be designed to use agricultural materials such as straw, grain husks, olive kernels, food & industrial waste and high energy crops such as miscanthus, willow, rape & maize, it’s just that they wouldn’t attract Domestic RHI payments or biomass boiler grants.

Biomass heating technology is a mature, proven technology and biomass boilers and stoves have been used successfully for decades in many northern European countries such as Austria, Denmark and Finland. The Carbon Trust describes biomass heating as ‘one of the (few) cost effective and practical ways to provide space heating (and) hot water from a low carbon source’.

Biomass wood pellets are fed automatically from an integrated hopper, through an auger (a screw-type conveyor) into the combustion chamber where, together with a regulated flow of oxygen they will burn cleanly and efficiently to produce hot gases. The heat from these gases is propelled by a fan to heat water in a heat exchanger and the resulting hot water is used in a central heating system to heat radiators. Biomass boilers are just as controllable as modern gas, oil and LPG condensing heating systems, allowing you to adjust the heat output to suit your own personal central heating and domestic hot water requirements. This is done by a modulator which controls the rate at which the compacted biomass wood pellets are fed into the combustion chamber.  Biomass boiler are subsidised with the biomass boiler grants scheme.

Although older biomass boilers can lose up to 20% of the energy they produce due to loss of heat in waste gas emissions, the most advanced modern biomass boilers have a secondary condensing heat exchanger which has been designed to capture some of this lost heat and use it to heat your home. This is is done by taking the potentially lost heat and using it to pre-heat water before it enters biomass boilers, thus requiring less energy to bring that water up to the desired temperature.  Condensing biomass boilers can therefore operate at almost 100% efficiency and biomass boilers grants schemes are available to help.

The main differences between domestic biomass boilers and conventional gas or oil fired boilers are due to the different types of fuel used by them to generate the heat. Whilst gas or oil is supplied to a boiler through sealed pipes, wood pellet fuel is normally supplied to biomass boilers from an integrated automatic hopper. And whilst the only waste produced by conventional boilers tends to be exhaust gases, biomass boilers also produce a relatively small amount of waste ash from burning the compacted biomass wooden pellets. The amount of ash waste tends to be less than 0.5% of the biomass fuel’s original weight and can be used as a garden fertiliser and biomass boilers grants schemes are available to help.

The cost of an automatically fed, wood pellet, condensing biomass boiler, including installation, commissioning, a fuel store and VAT at 5% for an average sized 3 or 4 bedroom home, should be between £10,000 and £15,000. This is dependent on the amount of renewable heat energy the boiler can produce (its output, measured in kilowatts) and its operational complexity, though once you apply for the biomass boiler grants scheme you will have more information on which to base  a decision  Condensing biomass boilers are considerably more expensive than an equivalent LPG or oil-fired boiler and without assistance from the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, not many households could make a case for installing one on anything other than environmental grounds.

However, Government financial incentives increased the market for Solar PV systems to such an extent that competition between manufacturing and installation companies resulted in substantial reductions in price. And although this was followed by a corresponding reduction in Solar PV tariffs, many in the industry consider that the popularity and pricing of biomass boilers, with the biomass boilers grants scheme will follow a similar trend to Solar PV.

The heat output of biomass boilers installed using the biomass boiler grants scheme is based on how much energy they produce (measured in kilowatt hours – kWh) and an assessment should be made of your home’s heating and hot water requirements before making a decision on which size biomass boiler to install. The greater the heat energy output biomass boilers are capable of, the more expensive biomass boilers will be and whilst a 15 – 18 kW biomass boiler may be adequate for a 3 or 4 bedroom house, a larger and more expensive 25 kW biomass boiler may be required for a very large detached property. A technical survey will be required to assess the size of biomass boiler you require and we can arrange that free of charge if you complete the form on this page and take advantage of the biomass boiler grants scheme.

In order to satisfy qualifying criteria for the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive and satisfy the conditions of the biomass boiler grants scheme, biomass boilers installed under the biomass boiler grants scheme must be ‘biomass-only’, that is, they must not be capable of running on any non-biomass fossil fuels. Fortunately most modern biomass boilers use wood pellets fed via an automatic hopper and if this fuel is sourced from a supplier on the Renewable Heat Incentive Biomass Suppliers List you can guarantee that you will meet the required criteria as regard biomass fuel.

Additionally, to meet Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive criteria your chosen biomass heating system must be accredited by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) or an equivalent scheme such as those that meet European standard EN 45011, or its replacement ISO/IEC 17065. A certificate confirming compliance with these standards must be issued by your installer and it will be required to support of your application to receive tariff payments from the Domestic RHI.

The power output of wood pellet biomass boilers ranges from about 10 to 30 kilowatts (kW) for domestic boilers, up to systems measured in megawatts (MW) for commercial installations and community heating systems.  Biomass boiler grants schemes apply to domestic and commercial systems.

A typical three bedroom property may need a biomass boiler capable of producing 15 – 20 kilowatts but a larger four or five bedroom detached property will probably require a 25 to 30 kW boiler. The domestic biomass boiler grants scheme apply to both. Fully automatic, batch-fed condensing biomass boilers are loaded with compacted wood pellets (which are supplied in bags) into an internal hopper at the top of the boiler but the hopper’s size restriction can mean a limited burn time, consequently fully automatic batch-fed pellet biomass boilers tend only to be available in sizes up to about 30 kW.

Your biomass boiler installer will be able to advise you regarding the size of biomass boiler you will require based on the size of your property, your peak load heat demand, whether you intend to extend your home, your personal heat requirements and up to date information about the biomass boiler grants schemes. The biomass boiler installer advising you about biomass biomass boiler grants schemes should carry out ‘heat load’ calculations for your home to determine the size of the biomass boiler you require, ensuring that it is not under or oversized for your needs. Under-sized biomass boilers will be made to work too hard and may not give out enough heat, whilst over-sized biomass boilers will cost more than is necessary and will probably not run at full efficiency.

Most domestic biomass boilers up to about 30 kW have integrated hoppers to store then deliver compacted biomass wood pellets to the burners, but larger commercial systems tend to have external automated biomass fuel delivery systems built into a separate housing. Biomass boiler grants are available for both domestic and non-domestic. Domestic biomass boilers have relatively straightforward controls, are the most responsive type of renewable energy heating systems to cater with domestic heat demands and are the nearest in operation and maintenance to conventional gas and oil boilers.

Biomass wood pellet fuel costs approximately £200 to £210 per tonne including VAT and delivery (at December 2013 prices) which equates to about 4.3p per kilowatt hour of renewable heat energy produced. Most 3 or 4 bedroom homes with biomass boilers providing all of the heating and hot water requirements for the property would require between 4 and 5 tonnes of wood pellet fuel each year, making the annual spend on heating fuel around £800 to £1,000, though this is subject to differences in personal heating requirements.  Biomass boiler grants make sense for most households which currently use LPG. oil or coal.

Running costs for biomass boilers compare favourably with most of the alternatives such as natural gas: 4.2p/kWh, heating oil: 6.4p/kWh, LPG: 8.6p/kWh, coal: 3.9p/kWh and electricity (off peak economy 7): 7.1p/kWh (at December 2013 prices). Only natural gas and coal are cheaper per kWh but taking into account the inefficiencies of non-condensing gas boilers and open coal fires, a wood pellet fed biomass boiler should work out cheaper to run than either of these fossil fuel technologies. In addition to the cost of biomass fuel, you should factor in £100 to £200 per year to cover the cost of an annual service for your biomass boiler and to clean soot from the chimney or flue. Calculations are based on fuel costs at December 2013 and you should check current prices prior to making a decision whether to switch to a biomass boiler or stove.

As long as your biomass boiler is designed to meet the peak load of your home’s heating requirements, you should no more need a back-up boiler than if you had installed a central heating boiler which uses mains gas, LPG or heating oil, none of which have benefits provided by the the biomass boiler grants scheme.  So the size of biomass boiler you install needs to be adequate for your personal heating requirements and in line with your home’s peak heat load demand. Also, as modern biomass boilers are just as reliable as their fossil fuel equivalents, you should not need to consider installing a back-up boiler in case of breakdown.  
Like all central heating boilers, biomass boilers produce waste gases which need to be emitted into the atmosphere. Unlike a condensing gas boiler which has a fan-assisted flue on an external vertical wall, a biomass boiler will require either an existing chimney or a purpose-installed flue. If a traditional brick chimney is used it must be lined with a double-skin, flexible stainless steel flue liner or have a pumped refractory concrete lining or a clay lining to the chimney’s internal brickwork. An existing chimney must also be completely sealed along its full length to avoid gas escaping and also to prevent rainwater ingress at its top outlet. These precautions are necessary to prevent potentially hazardous gases returning into the house and to protect the inner brickwork of the chimney. Internal flue liners should also be the same size as the boiler outlet to prevent any build-up of gases, condensation and other potentially harmful emissions. A single skin flexible liner designed solely for use with gas fires should never be used with a solid fuel boiler or stove.

Where a biomass boiler funded by the Renewable Heat Incentive biomass boiler grants scheme is to be installed in a property which does not have an existing chimney, a new pre-fabricated flue must be installed and in some instances this may require planning permission. Nevertheless, whether an existing chimney is re-lined or a new flue installed, Building Regulations may apply so you should contact your local authority’s Building Control department to ensure compliance. Alternatively, if the flue liner is installed as part of the boiler installation by a registered competent engineer who has been approved under a scheme such as HETAS (Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme) the engineer may be able to self-certify the installation.

Modern biomass boilers are just as reliable as their gas, LPG and oil equivalents but they do depend on good quality biomass wood pellet fuel to remain so. Wood pellet biomass heating systems tend to be more reliable than those which use woodchips because the quality and consistency of pellets can be better controlled than woodchip fuel. From August 2014 recipients of Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive tariff payments will have to prove that they are sourcing their wood pellet fuel from a supplier who is registered on the RHI Biomass Suppliers List to ensure that the biomass fuel used meets quality, consistency and sustainability requirements of the RHI scheme.  
Like all central heating boilers, biomass boilers and stoves will require regular servicing by a qualified service engineer to ensure that they continue to operate efficiently. This is important not only for the efficient operation of the biomass boiler but also because boilers which fail to burn fuel fully are more likely to produce poisonous carbon monoxide gas. Burning biomass wood pellets will also create a small amount of waste ash (less than 0.5% by weight, of the fuel used). This will differ according to usage and although the ash grate will have to be emptied every so often, the ash waste can be used as a garden fertiliser. Some biomass boilers compress the ash waste to minimise the frequency of emptying & cleaning, and some automatically remove ash into an ash bin but naturally there will be cost implications to these additional biomass boiler features.

For most biomass boilers and pellet stoves, emptying and cleaning the ash bin can be easily carried out by the home owner and although an annual service and cleaning soot from the chimney and flue pipe would normally be carried out by professionals, the cost should be no more than £100 to £200 per year. In addition, you should carry out a weekly visual inspection of the boiler and the wood pellet feeder system to ensure that it is working correctly.

Please also see the answer to the question regarding fitting a carbon monoxide detector and alarm below. Whereas burning fossil fuels such as gas, oil and LPG releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, CO² emissions from biomass boilers which use solely wood pellets is relatively low, lower even than ground source heat pumps and air source heat pumps. The use of biomass is said to be ‘carbon neutral’ because the amount of carbon dioxide released when wood pellets are burned is limited by the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the original plant material as it was growing. Biomass energy will continue to be sustainable as long as new trees are planted to absorb the carbon dioxide released by today’s burning of biomass wood pellets. Wood pellets for biomass boilers and stoves must be sourced from a supplier from the RHI Biomass Suppliers List to ensure that sustainability requirements are not compromised and to satisfy the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive qualifying criteria.

The following graph illustrates the level of carbon dioxide emissions from biomass fuel compared to other fuels:

Biomass boilers - Biomass CO2 Emissions compared to other fuels

Modern biomass boilers operating efficiently and fed with dry wood pellets should not produce smoke like an open coal or log fire would.

Installing a biomass boiler would not normally require planning permission but you should check the situation if you live in a listed building or in a conservation area. However, planning permission could apply if you need to build a fuel store for the biomass wood pellets, a separate boiler room or to construct a new chimney, and naturally there are very specific requirements for properties with thatched roofs.

Building Regulations do apply though, to all new heating systems which use wood as a fuel and where alterations are made to an existing chimney or where a new chimney is constructed. Where an existing chimney is fitted with a flexible stainless steel flue liner as part of the overall installation works for a new biomass boiler, a registered competent engineer who has been approved under a scheme such as HETAS, the Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme, should be able to self-certify your installation. HETAS is the official body recognised by Government to approve biomass and solid fuel domestic heating appliances, fuels and services.

One specific requirement to satisfy Building Regulations is the installation of a carbon monoxide detector and alarm in the same room as the biomass boiler or stove. This should be a permanent CO alarm fitted with an audible alert, not simply a colour changing indicator card.

Normally, yes. Most modern biomass boilers and pellet stoves are on the ‘Exempt Appliances List’ but local authorities can sometimes allow a non-exempt boiler or stove to be installed if they have been satisfied that emissions from it will not be prejudicial to health, or create a nuisance. Biomass boilers and stoves offer a carbon neutral solution to domestic heating requirements and a properly installed and well maintained heater using wood pellet fuel from sustainable sources will offer a number of environmental advantages. A competent installer will be able to advise which biomass boilers and pellet stoves can be installed in an ‘Air Quality Control Area’, simply complete the form on this page and we will arrange for one to contact you.  
Biomass Boilers – Renewable Heat Incentive
The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme makes tariff payments every 3 months for 7 years at a different rate of ‘pence per kilowatt hours’ (p/kWh) of heat generated for each of the renewable energy technologies included in the scheme. The rates are: • Biomass-only boilers – 12.2p/kWh • Biomass pellet stoves with integrated back boilers – 12.2p/kWh • Solar thermal water heating systems – 19.2p/kWh • Ground source heat pumps – 18.8p/kWh • Air source heat pumps – 7.3p/kWh

For more information on solar thermal water heating systems, ground source heat pumps and air source heat pumps, please visit www.domesticrenewableheatincentive.co.uk.

For the purposes of calculating the Domestic RHI tariff payable for a biomass boiler, the amount of renewable heat generated will be based on estimated heat demand from an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). As an example, if the estimated annual heat demand is 18,000kWh, the annual tariff will be £2,196 (18,000 kWh x 12.2 pence) and it would be paid at the rate of £549 per quarter for seven years, as adjusted by changes in the Retail Price Index.

Additional savings in energy bills achieved by switching from an expensive fossil fuel-based heating system to biomass energy should also be taken into account when making a decision whether to install a biomass boiler. According to the Energy Saving Trust® for a typical well-insulated four bedroom home, replacing an LPG boiler with a biomass boiler should save around £1,435 per year on heating bills.

If you are considering installing a biomass boiler, maximum benefit in the reduction of your energy bills and carbon dioxide emissions will only be achieved if your home is well insulated. If fact, in order to benefit from the Domestic RHI scheme applicants have to complete a Green Deal Assessment (GDA) to ensure that their home complies with current loft insulation and wall insulation energy efficiency requirements. This should not be considered to be a bad thing as the costs of installing a domestic biomass boiler or pellet stove with integrated back boiler are eligible measures under the Green Deal and funds may be available to cover at least part of the cost of installation. If you have already had a Green Deal Assessment carried out on your home you do not need to obtain another one, you will simply need your Green Deal Advice Report number.  
Yes. The Green Deal allows householders to borrow funds to cover the cost of energy efficient home improvements and the Green Deal loan is repaid out of future savings in energy bills, specifically via your electricity bill. The Green Deal Golden Rule specifies that Green Deal loan repayments must be covered by these energy bill savings so that the householder does not have to contribute further. If you take out a Green Deal loan and then sell your home before it is fully repaid, the loan stays with the property and becomes the responsibility of the new owner, after all it will be they who benefit in future from any energy efficient home improvements you have made. Taking out a Green Deal loan to contribute to the costs of a biomass boiler or stove installation does not prevent you from taking advantage of the Domestic RHI and receiving tariff payments. Combining a Green Deal loan with the Domestic RHI could prove to be a very financially astute decision.  
A valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is required when you apply for Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive tariff payments for two reasons:

Firstly, only those domestic properties which are capable of having an EPC report will qualify for the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, if the property is not capable of having an EPC report then the Non-Domestic RHI will apply or the property will not qualify for any assistance under the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme. The situation may change regarding the types of property which do not qualify for either of the RHI schemes (Domestic and Non-domestic) but at the outset it is likely that static caravans and mobile homes will fall outside of the scheme.

Secondly, in calculating Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive tariff payments payable to an applicant installing a biomass boiler, the tariff rate (which is expressed as ‘pence per kilowatt hour’ of renewable heat energy generated) is based on the estimated heat demand of a property and this is obtained from the EPC. In other words, an EPC report is required in order to calculate the value of the Domestic RHI tariff payable to a participant in the scheme, so for an RHI participant it is a vital part of the application process. The RHI tariff rate for biomass boilers and biomass stoves is 12.2 pence per kilowatt so if the heat demand for a property, as shown by the EPC is 18,000 kilowatt hours, the annual tariff payment will be £2,196 (18,000kWh x 12.2 pence) and is payable quarterly.

Biomass Energy and Biomass Fuel
To calculate your own annual consumption of biomass wood pellets, first take the heat demand of your home which was prepared as part of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and divide it by the operational efficiency of your biomass boiler. Let’s say that your heat demand is 18,000 kilowatt hours and your new biomass boiler operates at 93% efficiency.

Heat input required = 18,000 kWh ÷ 0.93 = 19,355 kWh

This means that to generate 18,000 kWh, a 93% efficient biomass boiler will require an input of 19,355 kWh from the wood pellet fuel it uses. Since wood pellets manufactured to required modern standards produce approximately 4,900 kWh per tonne of weight, you will require approximately 4 tonnes of wood pellet per year (19,355 ÷ 4,900 = 3.95 tonnes). With biomass wood pellet fuel at approximately £210 per tonne, this suggests an annual cost of around £830 on biomass fuel. In comparison, for the same heat output, using heating oil would cost £1,239 (19,355kWh x 6.4p/kWh) and using LPG would cost £1,665 (19,355kWh x 8.6p/kWh). This suggests that switching to biomass from heating oil would save 33% on your heating bills and switching from LPG would save around 50%.

Calculations are based on fuel costs at December 2013 and you should check current prices prior to making a decision whether to switch to a biomass boiler or stove.

Installers of biomass-only boilers and pellet-fed biomass stoves will only be eligible to continue to receive tariff payments under the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive if they source their wood pellet fuel from biomass fuel suppliers who are registered on the RHI Biomass Suppliers List. Participants in the Domestic RHI are advised to retain fuel receipts and delivery notes for their biomass wood pellet fuel as evidence that they are using suppliers from the official list. As part of a participant’s responsibilities under Domestic RHI an annual declaration has to be made that you are following the rules, and to protect the finances of the scheme Ofgem has indicated that both desktop and site audits will be carried out, with biomass boiler and stove installations chosen at random for a series of checks. If Ofgem discover that you are not complying with the requirements of the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, your tariff payments may be stopped or you could face other sanctions.

The creation of the Renewable Heat Incentive Biomass Suppliers List was insisted on by the Department of Energy and Climate Control (DECC) to ensure that recipients of Domestic RHI tariff payments comply with sustainability requirements for biomass wood pellet use and meet the Government’s environmental objectives. Suppliers of biomass fuel will be thoroughly vetted in terms of their products and procedures and only biomass fuel suppliers who have successfully registered on the RHI Biomass Suppliers List will be permitted to label their products with a statement illustrating that the biomass fuel they supply complies with all relevant Renewable Heat Incentive sustainability criteria, the main two of which are:

1. Greenhouse gas emissions criteria (planned for Autumn 2014) – that biomass fuel used by RHI participants results in at least a 60% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions compared to the EU fossil fuel average. This equates to an emissions target of 34.8 g of carbon dioxide per megajoule (MG) of heat.

2. Land criteria (planned for Spring 2015) – based on the criteria about the land used to grow biomass as outlined in the UK Timber Standard for Heat and Electricity.

This means that for domestic consumers receiving Renewable Heat Incentive payments, they will need to comply with sustainability criteria and to achieve this all biomass fuel will need to be purchased from a supplier listed on the RHI Biomass Suppliers List. The only exception will be if you are a registered ‘self-supplier’ of biomass fuel – please see the answer to the following question.

You can register on the Renewable Heat Incentive Biomass Suppliers List with Ofgem as a ‘self-supplier’ of biomass fuel if you use your own fuel from the same estate as your boiler or source fuel from your local area but you are strongly recommended to provide evidence of your ability to self-supply, such as a Forestry Commission approved management plan. If you do this, and as long as your boiler is under 1 megawatt (MW) in capacity, you will not need to undertake an assessment against the sustainability criteria that commercial biomass suppliers are obliged to do. Self-suppliers of biomass fuel have to make a declaration to Ofgem that they are registered as a self-supplier as per the RHI Biomass Suppliers List compliance method and they may be audited by Ofgem. Self-suppliers of biomass fuel who cannot meet all of their needs from their own woodland can top up with fuel from suppliers on the RHI Biomass Suppliers List or from waste wood fuel but full records should be kept in order to satisfy Ofgem of compliance and to continue to receive RHI tariff payments.  
Domestic deliveries of biomass wood pellet fuel are normally made by a lorry with a tail lift and the pellets are generally supplied in 10kg or 15kg bags on pallets carrying up to a tonne of fuel. For larger bulk deliveries of several tonnes, the wood pellets can be supplied loose and blown through a pipe into a fuel storage silo but this would apply more to customers such as farmers and commercial organisations with larger biomass heating systems than most domestic users would require.  
Biomass wood pellet fuel on a domestic scale would normally be stored in a dry shed or outbuilding which should be near enough to the road for the supplier to make a delivery but not too far from the boiler; otherwise you will soon tire of carrying 10kg or 15kg bags of pellets to feed your boiler. Biomass wood pellets have a bulk density of 650 kg per cubic metre, so if you were to order a tonne of wood pellets it would take up around 1.5 cubic metres on a pallet, more space would be needed if the bags are removed and stacked separately in a shed.  
Biomass Boilers – Installations
Yes, just like any other central heating boiler which uses mains gas, LPG or heating oil. Biomass boilers generally operate at higher temperatures and pressure than most other types of boiler and this may require your installer to fit a heat exchanger between the biomass boiler and your existing central heating system.  
Biomass boilers are physically larger than conventional gas or oil boilers, partly because the wood pellets need to be burned at a very high temperature for the system to be efficient and this requires a large space lined with refractory brick lining. It is also because of the fuel storage and supply method which in domestic boilers tends to be integrated into the boiler casing. Domestic biomass boilers are normally floor-mounted so you will require a firm, non-combustible base such as a concrete pad to stand it on. You will also need somewhere dry to store the wood pellet fuel for your biomass boiler. The storage area should be easily accessible for bulk deliveries to be made but not too far from the boiler as you will need to carry the fuel to it.  
If you intend to apply for tariff payments under the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme for your biomass boiler, the installer must be accredited by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) or an equivalent scheme. Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) is ‘an internationally recognised quality assurance scheme, supported by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. MCS certifies microgeneration technologies used to produce electricity and heat from renewable sources’. The installer must also have signed up to the Renewable Energy Consumer Code (RECC), the aim of which is to ‘guarantee a high quality experience for consumers wishing to buy or lease small-scale energy generation systems for their homes’.  
Since October 2010 it has been a legal requirement that a Carbon Monoxide (CO) detector and alarm be fitted in the same room where a new or replacement fixed, solid fuel appliance is installed, in order to satisfy the requirements of Building Regulations Approved Document J. This includes both biomass boilers and biomass stoves.

Carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete combustion of carbon-based fuels such as gas, oil, coal and wood, including biomass wood pellets. CO is poisonous and is made even more dangerous because it has no taste, colour or smell. A heating system is more likely to produce CO if it fails to function efficiently due to poor maintenance, an inadequate air supply or when the flue is not operating effectively. For your own safety then, it is important that a CO detector and alarm is fitted, (and that it is checked regularly and replaced when necessary) when any heating system is installed which uses any of these hydrocarbon fuels. If all of the fuel is burned in a heating system, then other than heat, it should produce only water and carbon dioxide but in reality less than 100% of the fuel will burn and deadly gases such as carbon monoxide can be produced. Your biomass boiler should also be serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations otherwise it may become less efficient over time and be more likely to produce carbon monoxide.

Purchasers and specifiers should follow British Standard EN 50291 in choosing a carbon monoxide detector and alarm system and the Council of Gas Detection and Environmental Monitoring (CoGDEM) has made recommendations regarding the type of CO alarm to use. It should be one with an audible alarm, which is permanently installed rather than being portable and it should be capable of ‘self-testing’, with a further audible alarm if the battery fails or if the alarm develops a fault. CoGDEM specifically does not recommend the use of colour changing indicator cards.

You can still claim Domestic RHI tariff payments in a second home but the supply must have a meter fitted to measure the amount of renewable heat your biomass boiler generates. The RHI tariff payable will still be based on the level of heat ‘deemed’ by the EPC of the property however.  
No, only biomass boilers which burn biomass-only fuel will qualify. The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme is designed to increase the production of renewable heat energy from sustainable sources and since log boilers and log stoves are capable of burning fossil fuels such as coal, they would fail to meet RHI criteria by allowing fossil fuel contamination in an otherwise renewable energy heating system.  
We have access to the largest UK database of installers of domestic biomass boilers and wood pellet stoves. Simply complete the form on this page and we will introduce you to biomass technology installation companies in your area from whom you can request quotations. We do not charge you anything for this service and you are under no obligation to place an order with any of the installers that we introduce you to. Please see the terms and conditions of use of this website for more information.  

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