Blog : Next Generation of Wood Pellet Burners Becoming a Smart Heating Choice

By Katie | Dec 23, 2014 | in

By Michael McCord

Jack Bingham, the owner of Seacoast Energy in Barrington, New Hampshire, practices what he preaches. When he talks to commercial or residential clients about the financial and environmental benefits of a wood pellet burner, he cites personal experience.

Late last year, Bingham installed a WoodMaster mini-boiler in his home as a test and was impressed by the results. “It’s amazingly practical and there’s no price comparison to oil,” said Bingham who founded Seacoast Energy in 2008. “We made hot water on that system all summer and I cut my $880 propane bill in half.”

Bingham has done a lot of research into the wood pellet burner industry and said the new generation of products merges the best in European design and efficiency. “The Europeans are way ahead of us,” he said, in part because of the greater popularity and regulatory push in European Union countries to increase biomass fuel use.

Bingham admits that he “pestered” Minnesota-based Northwest Manufacturing, the maker of the WoodMaster line of wood furnaces, to create a smaller and more affordable indoor wood pellet boiler. The WoodMaster folks not only listened but they delivered.

In November, Seacoast Energy installed a WoodMaster Mini Series pellet boiler for longtime client Northland Forest Products in Kingston. Among the first installation of this model in the country, the 102,000 BTU unit replaced a two decades-old oil burner. The new wood pellet boiler heats more than 3,000 square feet of office space and all the hot water supply in the facility. The company is also in line to take advantage of rebates for bulk pellet deliveries.

Northland company treasurer Fred Doane said the wood pellet model fits both their price point and their philosophy. “We are in the forest products business and try support the industry as much as we can,” Doane said. “This seemed like a viable alternative (to oil). It’s more efficient and it would save us money by buying a lower-priced fuel.” Last year, Seacoast Energy also oversaw the installation of a 45kw Photovoltaic system at Northland Forest Products. Doane said the solar array supplies 15 percent of the electric usage at their facility.

The installation of the boiler was done in collaboration with Aucella Heating & Cooling, an HVAC company located in Strafford that keeps sustainability at the forefront of their business. The family owned and operated Aucella has worked on a number of projects with Bingham and according to Bingham, Seacoast Energy benefits because of the Aucella team's willingness to learn-as-they-go and availing themselves to different types of projects.

"I have used Aucella for several years now for solar hot water, wood boilers and heat pumps. We work as a team developing these projects," said Bingham. "This [WoodMaster Mini Series pellet boiler ] being the first of it’s kind from WoodMaster meant we were all going to learn on the job."

Jay Aucella was drawn to working with Bingham because of his knowledge of greener, more efficient technology that is both environmentally-friendly, cost saving and, at times, challenging.

"Because of Seacoast Energy’s commitment to sustainable energy, Aucella Heating & Cooling has had the opportunity to be part of the design and installation of many cutting edge products," said Aucella.

Seacoast Energy has grown to become one of the “go-to” companies in the Seacoast region for renewable home products and solar systems. Because of the cost benefits and the ability to purchase wood fuel pellets from local sources, Bingham believes that energy-efficient wood pellet boilers are on the verge of taking off. “I know the market is there,” he said.

The timing may be just right. According to the NH Wood Energy Council, New Hampshire imports 100 percent of its fossil fuels and natural gas and exports more than $1 billion annually to import heating oil. New Hampshire is one the most forested states in the country but the state ranks only behind Maine as most dependent on heating oil for commercial use.

The recently-released State of New Hampshire 10-year Energy Strategy report cited wood as “a promising alternative to home heating oil and other petroleum products…wood also presents an opportunity to capitalize on locally‚Äźproduced resources, keeping money in state while promoting land conservation efforts.”

Bingham agrees. “We know we need to heat our homes and businesses and it costs money to do it but why send billions of dollars out of state? We should keep that money as local as possible.”

Seacoast Energy is a Business Partner of the Green Alliance, the Portsmouth-based organization representing more than 100 local green businesses, along with nearly 4,000 consumer members.

For more information about Seacoast Energy, visit www.seacoastenergy.com.

To learn more about Aucella Heating & Cooling, visit www.aucellaheatac.com.

Green Alliance Members get $350 off a solar PV system and $250 off a solar hot water system from Seacoast Energy! And save 20% on heating and air conditioning services from Aucella! Not a member? Join today!