In an attempt to beat the high cost of heating oil, people in the Northeast are turning to wood pellet furnaces as an alternative. Even with the cost of a new furnace, it is estimated that the units can pay for themselves in about 5 years. According to the article which states:

Instead of paying $5,000 for 1,100 gallons of heating oil in the coming year based on today’s record prices, he’ll spend $2,000 on about eight tons of wood pellets. Even at a cost of more than $12,000, he thinks the new furnace will pay for itself within five years.

“How great is it if we make a move toward this type of heating that can boost the economy instead of sending money to foreign lands for oil?” said Bancroft, who plans to have the unit installed this summer.

As heating oil approaches $5 a gallon, consumers in the oil-reliant Northeast are looking at pellets, heat pumps, firewood and even geothermal systems to soften the blow of high oil prices — which have almost doubled in the past year and gone up nearly fivefold since 2003.

Nowhere is the pain of skyrocketing oil prices more acute than in the Northeast, which accounts for more than three-quarters of the nation’s heating oil sales. And no state relies more on heating oil than Maine, where it’s used in 80 percent of homes.

Oil used to be a cheap heating source, with prices around $1 a gallon as recently as five years ago. But as prices rise to unprecedented levels, homeowners are angry and scared.

There are risks, of course, to giving heating oil the boot. Oil prices could drop or wood pellet prices could rise. Questions remain about whether there are enough certified technicians to install and service other types of furnaces.

I am not sure about the mechanics of how the wood pellet furnaces work, but I am familiar with wood pellet stoves.  When I was living in the Mother Lode in California, wood stoves were popular for heat during the winters. Some people had opted to use pellet stoves. The pellets came in 40 lbs bag which needed to be loaded in the rear of the stove. Storage of he pellets was crucial so that they did not become wet.

It appears that wood pellets for furnaces have overcome this delivery problem.

And instead of heating oil deliveries, trucks will deliver pellets, which are pumped into a bin in his basement that can hold 4 tons. They are then carried automatically from the bin to the furnace, where they are burned to heat water that is used to heat the house.

What do you think of this idea?

Comments welcome.