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Ashburnham Homeowner Installs Automated Wood Heat to Support the Environment and Local Economy
Automated Wood Heat
Ashburnham resident Mark Carlisle has always been a proponent of renewable energy. He decided to install an automated wood heating system in 2018 through MassCEC’s Residential Automated Wood Heat Program. His new heating system allowed Mark to support both the environment and the local economy.
Mark installed a Windhager XL350 wood boiler, thermal storage tank, and an outdoor shed to store the pellets for a total project cost of $28,731.25. However, an $18,000 rebate from MassCEC meant that Mark’s out of pocket expenses were $10,731.25. As part of the project, Mark removed an old non-EPA certified outdoor wood boiler. His new automated wood boiler is more efficient and emits significantly less local air pollution than what he used to have. Mark’s new wood boiler is located in a shed next to his home and is connected to the home via underground piping. Wood boilers are also commonly located in the basement of homes. For this project, Mark connected his new wood boiler to his home’s existing heating distribution system.
Automated wood heat systems are similar to fossil fuel boilers or furnaces, but they heat with sustainably sourced wood pellets instead of oil, propane, or natural gas. Modern versions of these wood boilers automatically load wood pellets from a bulk storage container into the wood boiler and self-clean their heating coils, making them a low maintenance option for homeowners. Additionally, wood pellets can be delivered from a pellet delivery truck directly into a bulk storage container by a hose connection (similar to an oil delivery), so homeowners don’t have to worry about lifting heavy bags of wood pellets. Mark noted that he loves that his automated wood heat system is less work than a pellet stove. His only maintenance task is dumping the pellet ashes once a year.
Mark’s wood pellets are supplied a few times throughout the year by Sandri Energy and sourced from New England Wood Pellet, LLC in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. He burns around 8 tons of pellets per year to heat his 3,911 square foot home and estimates that he saves around $0.75 cents per gallon compared to using oil, or around $675 in annual savings.
MassCEC’s Residential Automated Wood Heat Program ran from December 2014 to August 2020 and supported 132 projects during that time.
Mark’s automated wood heat boiler (top) and pellet storage (bottom):
Photos courtesy of Mark Carlisle