The Top DIY Biomass Boiler Fuel Options

Read the top tips from guest contributor Mike Richardson on how to fuel your biomass boiler the DIY way.

logs

Biomass boilers are a little bit like Marmite amongst green enthusiasts. On one hand, some people absolutely love them and would never consider reverting back to a standard boiler system. However, there are the doubters, with some groups under the belief that by the time you have sourced the wood the savings are quite flat.

When it comes to this fuel source, it usually boils down to where you live in the country. In some areas, you’ll have the pick of the suppliers and this means that you’ll barely make a dint when it comes to CO2 emissions, while prices will be competitive as well. In actual fact, this post disregards your location in the country and if you want to make your biomass boiler as green as can be, it might be advisable to adopt a DIY approach.

It goes without saying that not everyone will have the opportunity to make such a decision, as few of us are blessed with giant oak trees that we can hack down at will. However, there are compromises that can be made and by doing this, your wood burning boiler will effectively support itself. Considering the fact that this is one of the main expenses whilst running one of these systems, it can pretty much make your house heat itself free of charge.

DIY Idea #1 – The Big Hack

As mentioned previously, this is a concept that won’t be available to everyone. However, if you are blessed with a large garden and trees, the savings you’ll make by taking the initiative yourself and felling your own trees are considerable. Fortunately, the nature of biomass boilers means that wood generally burns very slowly, so you’re not going to be left with a completely barren garden by the end of the winter.

This approach is usually appropriate for those boilers that run on logs – merely because the felled tree can be broken into the necessary chunks without any other machinery (something we’ll come onto later). By simply arming yourself with the necessary safety gear, making sure that the tree is not legally protected, you’re generally good to go. Of course, if you’ve chosen a particularly bigger tree a little more planning is required and some may opt to source a third party to take on the job for them.

DIY Idea #2 – The Compromise

This next idea is probably going to apply to most of the readership, although it can be combined with the first concept in some instances. Nowadays, a lot of biomass systems rely on pellets and chips as a fuel source – mainly because they are easier to use and one doesn’t have to find a big storage facility which is usually the case with logs.

Of course, it would be a hell of a job to make each individual pellet with an axe or a chainsaw. Therefore, you will need to invest in the relevant equipment, with wood chippers, shredders and pellet machinery all being possibilities. The latter is a little more specialist and won’t be for everyone, but if you are simply trying to create your own chips the devices are cheap and readily available.

From this point on its all about deciding how seriously you are going to take your fuel creation. If you are blessed with your own source of trees, there’s no reason why you can’t chop them down and then feed them through the machinery. Alternatively, purchasing wood in bulk is the other option, before sending it through the shredder to create your fuel. Considering the fact that chips and pellets are more expensive to buy from suppliers, this DIY approach will save you money as well.

Conclusion

On average, it will cost a household £190 per tonne for its supply of pellets. Clearly, this is no small figure and this is why the DIY biomass boiler approach can pay dividends.

There are countless example of wood burning stoves saving considerable sums, with this one over at This is Money showing how one family run four in their home yet only pay £75 per month in heating costs. This is despite the fact that their costs were said to be heading towards the £300 mark prior to the installation of these systems.

Therefore, the thought of drilling down this figure even more is mouth-watering to say the least. Of course, it’s not for everyone – but particularly as the second DIY approach highlighted, everyone who runs a biomass boiler at least has the opportunity to cut even more costs and do their bit for the environment at the same time.

Image by Willam Warby

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