Is a Biomass Boiler Right for Your Home?
Biomass boilers burn various types of wood rather than gas or oil, appealing to homeowners looking to reduce their carbon footprint.
However, biomass boilers take up much more space than conventional boilers so aren’t the most suitable renewable technology for all homes.
Our guide will help you find out whether your home is suitable for a biomass boiler or whether you should think about an alternative renewable heating system.
What is a biomass boiler?
Biomass boilers are fuelled by different types of wood (chips, pellets or logs) which is much more sustainable than burning gas and oil – supplies of which are already beginning to run low.
A biomass boiler does exactly the same job as a conventional heating system – providing central heating and hot water – they just do so by burning wood or biological materials.
There are 2 types of biomass boiler which are differentiated by whether the fuel is fed to the boiler manually or automatically. Manual models will mean that you have to feed the fuel into the boiler yourself, and also clean out the ash each week. Automatic biomass boiler on the other hand, take care of the cleaning and refuelling themselves.
Find out more about how biomass boilers work in What is a Biomass Heating System?.
Space needed for a biomass boiler
In terms of size, biomass boilers resemble a fridge freezer more than a conventional gas or oil boiler. And while this might sound large, you will still need somewhere to store the fuel.
Unlike gas, which is supplied to your home on demand, biomass will need to be stored on site, close to the boiler, and bulk biomass deliveries will need room about the size of a gazebo (2x2x2 metres).
As well as taking up a fair amount of space, the fuel store needs to be close to the road so that the vehicle delivering the fuel can easily deliver it.
It’s also recommended that a biomass boiler burning logs should be part of a heating system with a hot water cylinder. The reason for this is that once logs are burning away in the boiler, they’re pretty hard to put out so any hot water produced can be stored in the cylinder.
Is a biomass boiler right for your home?
Anyone living in a small home should probably rule out a biomass boiler. So if you live in a small 1-2 bedroom home or flat, you’d be better off turning to an alternative renewable technology.
Biomass boilers are best suited to larger properties that take a long time to heat up as burning wood is much more economical and environmentally friendly than gas or oil.
The best way to find out if your home is suited to a biomass boiler, is to get the opinion of a qualified biomass boiler installer. Using Boiler Guide, you can get free quotes from up to 3 installers based in your local area.
If your home is suited to a biomass boiler then there are many benefits you’ll be able to enjoy.
Biomass boiler benefits
We’ve already mentioned that the fuel used to power biomass boiler is renewable but this is one of the major benefits. By planting trees and plants, there will always be fuel for a biomass boiler, however, while gas and oil take millions of years to form and contribute massively to climate change when burnt.
Fuel for biomass boilers is also a cheaper option than gas, oil and electricity:
- Gas: 4.8p / kWh
- Oil: 6p / kWh
- Electricity: 13.4p / kWh
- Wood Chips: 2.9p kWh
- Wood Pellets: 4.2p / kWh
Plus, if you have access to wood around your property, fuel costs will be down to zero.
As well as cheaper fuel, you could actually earn money through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) – a government scheme designed to encourage homeowners to heat their homes using renewable technology.
Do biomass boilers need planning permission?
Biomass boilers are a very different type of heating system to gas and oil boilers so it can be natural to think that you might need planning permission to have one installed. However, if you live in a listed building or plan to install the unit into a boiler house (which might be necessary given the amount of space they take up), planning permission might be necessary.
Why install a biomass boiler?
As gas and oil have both proved effective fuels for heating homes, gas and oil boilers have become common place right across the UK and have been for a number of years. However, despite being great for home heating, they’re still fossil fuels and release carbon into the atmosphere when burnt – a leading cause of climate change.
Biomass boilers are a great alternative for anyone looking for a more environmentally friendly approach to home heating. Unlike burning gas and oil, burning wood is a carbon neutral process as only the carbon absorbed by the tree during its lifetime is released back into the atmosphere.
On top of that, millions of tonnes of waste wood makes its way into UK landfill sites every year. So by burning that waste to heat the home, it’s taking some of the strain off those landfills too.
NOTE: Like gas and oil boilers, biomass boilers can still produce carbon monoxide (CO), a potentially life threatening gas should it leak into the home, so having a CO alarm installed close to the unit is essential.
How much does a biomass boiler cost?
While the fuel prices are low, the cost of the biomass boiler itself and installation comes at a higher price than the more conventional heating systems. While a typical gas boiler typically averages at around £2,000, a biomass boiler could cost between £4,000 and £21,000.
|Type of Biomass Boiler||Potential Cost (before installation)|
|Manually fed||£4,000 – £10,000|
|Automatically fed||£9,000 – £21,000|
Finding a biomass boiler installer
Biomass boilers must be installed by a heating engineer who is HETAS (Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme) registered. To get the most competitive price when it comes to the installation, we highly recommend comparing multiple quotes and using Boiler Guide you can get free no-obligation quotes from up to 3 HETAS registered engineers by taking a few moments to complete our simple online form.