Posts Tagged ‘energy’

Calculate potential outdoor furnace energy savings

admin | July 7th, 2010 | No Comments »

One of the first things you should do before purchasing an outdoor furnace is to calculate your energy costs. Take these numbers and compare them to the potential costs of installing and running an outdoor furnace and we think you’ll find that the the financial benefit is there. And of course, the environmental benefit is a given.

For the calculation, you’ll need to know the amount of heat created or used in your home or business. It’s is measured in BTU’s. An average home uses 200,000,000 BTU’s of total energy for heating per year. Approximately 25% of that number is exclusively for hot water. Depending on your appliances, you could be higher or lower. Also, with how your home is insulated, the types of windows, etc, you may use more or less energy. However, using the average home and based on this total consumption, the following amounts of fuel would be required to produce 200,000,000 BTU’s.

Heating Method Annual Requirements Cost Per Unit Total Annual Cost
Fuel Oil
Natural Gas
Wood (Birch)

The data above was provided by and all the prices are in Canadian funds. However, using simply math in a chart like this spefic to the costs in your area, you’ll get a good idea of your potential savings.

What’s the status on biomass energy production?

admin | June 14th, 2010 | No Comments »


PBS Newshour

Official Energy Statistics from the U.S. Government:
Ethanol milestones
Biomass milestones
Biomass energy consumption by source and sector
Heat content of biomass fuels
Map of potential biomass resources
Biomass Simplified

Wind energy by the numbers

admin | June 11th, 2010 | No Comments »

Lempster_Wind_Farm-2aaWind energy produced worldwide: 65,000,000,000 kWh per year (enough power for 6 million U.S. homes)

Wind energy produced in the U.S.: 16,000,000,000 kWh per year (enough power for 1.6 million homes)

Potential U.S. wind energy production by 2020: enough power for 25 million homes yearly

Installed cost of wind energy: 2-6 cents/kWh

Yearly emissions eliminated by generating energy from a 1 MW wind turbine instead of 1 MW of conventional sources: over 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide, 6.5 tons of sulfur dioxide, 3.2 tons of nitrogen oxides, and 60 pounds of mercury in one year.

Wind power farms generate between 17 and 39 times as much power as they consume, as compared to 16 times for nuclear plants and 11 times for coal plants, according to a study of Midwestern wind farms by the University of Wisconsin.

Downloadable Factsheets

  • Wind Energy for Electric Power (Renewable Energy Policy Project): A comprehensive overview of wind power science, the current state of wind development, and the positive effects of wind energy.
  • Economic Impact of Renewable Energy in Pennsylvania (Black and Veatch): Analyzes the Advanced Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) in the State of Pennsylvania, showing how the adoption of the AEPS would not only lower electricity costs in the state, but also provide significant other economic benefits to the state.
  • Benefits of Wind (U.S. Department of Energy): A look at the national and local advantages of wind power. Also see our Benefits of Wind and Benefits to PA pages.
  • Wind Energy Myths (U.S. Department of Energy): Addresses some common misconceptions about wind energy.
  • Wind Energy Facts and Myths (American Wind Energy Association): Provides the answers to aesthetic, economic, and environmental concerns regarding wind power.

A windy/sunny day gets you thinking

admin | May 6th, 2010 | No Comments »

compare-wind-turbinesOn a day like today where the winds are gusting, the sky is clear and the sun is bright, it’s hard not to think of alternative energy. The average electricity bill in Southern NH is right around $85 a month and the thought of getting off the grid and having a few days a month where PSNH actually pays you is really tantillizing.

A couple new wind turbines that take up little space and spin quietly as your electrical meter grinds to a halt and perhaps even starts spinning the other way, is worth looking into. Seriously, there are so many sizes and shapes to select from, surely one or more of those would fit your lifestyle. The stereotype of a giant propeller spinning with that gentle but prominent “whoosh” sound is no more.

But say you don’t want all that metal spinning in your backyard like some sort of Calder sculpture. Maybe harvesting all those trees that have fallen over in the yard because of gusty winds or recent ice/snow storms. Cut it up large and load your wood-burning outdoor furnace. Now is a perfect time to stock up for the cold months. Better to have too much than too little. In fact, if you don;t have enough, ask you neighbors. They are likely to just want to get it off their grass and whether it’s pine or oak, you can burn it all and save money.

For those looking to capitalize on the sun, solar panels are starting to become cost-effective for residential installations and coming first-hand from a small installation in Amherst, in about 10 years everything will be paid for with annual electricity savings. Not bad considering there is little to no maintenance on the panels.

Combine any number of these and you are looking at significant savings and for no other reason, you are doing your part to keep the Earth healthy for future generations.

Hardwood pellets vs. softwood pellets

admin | March 22nd, 2010 | No Comments »

300px-Wood_pellets-small_huddle_PNr°0108With wood stoves and fireplaces, hardwood is typically the fuel of choice. Hardwood is naturally a denser fuel with a lower moisture content than softwood. Stoking your fire with a hardwood like oak or maple would burn longer and also have hotter coals. Chimney sweeps will usually recommend burning hardwoods to avoid buildup in the flue and lower the risk of a chimney fire with heavy use.

Softwoods, like pine, are known to be easy to light. They burn hotter than hardwoods initially but burn much more quickly. In turn this would mean stoking the fire more frequently and having to store a larger supply. In addition, softwoods have more pitch leading to more sparking and sound as it burns. With the sparking comes additional risk of sparks leaving the fireplace and with more pitch is an increased chance of a chimney fire with use.

When wood is pelletized many of these differences go away. The wood is ground into sawdust and dried to a consistent moisture level of about 6%. Hardwood, softwood and blended pellets are compressed at about 40-pounds per cubic feet into pellets can produce about 8,000 BTUs per pound.

At this point the differences lie between pellet mills and brands. Each will have their own pellet length that affect burning and the stove maintenance and also the amount of ash that is produced. Premium pellets typically leave behind 1-pound of ash for every 10 bags burned. Compare this with regular pellets that could leave up to 3 times as much ash behind for cleanup.

The Michigan Hardwood pellets and Lakes Region Softwood pellets we carry are both classified as premium pellets.