The benefits of biomass for homeowners


With winter approaching, now is a great time to turn to biomass for your heating needs and reap the financial benefits of the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Mike Blakeley, IXUS Energy’s biomass boiler specialist, discusses the benefits of switching to biomass and how to prepare your home for it.

The benefits of biomass

With the introduction of the government’s domestic RHI scheme earlier this year, now is a great time to discover the benefits that biomass can bring to your home. A biomass boiler is designed to burn wood fuels such as pellets, woodchips or logs instead of oil or gas and provides both heating and hot water.

As well as providing a greener fuel option for homeowners than oil or gas, biomass boiler owners are less exposed to volatile energy prices. Recent statistics from the Energy Ombudsman have shown that complaints about energy companies have more than doubled in the first six months of the year compared with the same period in 2013. With many of these complaints coming from customers dissatisfied at rising fuel costs.

We are often asked who is eligible for the domestic RHI scheme. The answer being that a boiler heating a single domestic property (that is, with a single Council Tax bill) will qualify for the domestic RHI, with all homeowners, landlords and self-builders eligible to apply. Anyone joining the domestic RHI scheme now will receive 12.2p for every kilowatt hour (kWh) of heat required to heat a property. Most homeowners can expect RHI payments to cover the installation costs over the seven year payback period, and are likely to save around 25 per cent on fuel prices by replacing oil with pellets.

However, the benefits of switching to biomass are not just financial. Biomass boilers provide energy efficiency, whilst being durable, clean and easy to use. Unlike some renewable heating appliances, biomass boilers are also suitable for a wide range of properties and require no alterations to existing radiator or underfloor heating systems.

Preparing your home for biomass

The price of a biomass boiler can vary depending on the size of your property and the quality of the boiler you choose – and importantly the quality of the installation you choose. The financial benefits will outweigh the upfront investment, and the additional cost of opting for a good quality boiler and installation are always a sensible investment – and will pay dividends in the long term.

Different boilers are suitable for different homes, so it is important for installers to help homeowners choose a boiler that is right for them in terms of size and energy requirements. To establish the best option a site survey is vital at the beginning of the decision making process. Your choice of boiler needs to match the chosen fuel which will be determined by a range of factors including local availability and access to your property. The customer must choose whether they want a fully automatic system or a manually fed boiler.

Storage space must also be taken into account. Fuel storage can often get overlooked, despite it being an essential part of a good installation. A system with poorly designed fuel storage will be a pain to live with.

Planning permission is often an area of uncertainty for customers. It is generally unlikely that planning permission will be required for a biomass system installation within a house, but a general rule is that if a customer’s flue exceeds the height of the roof by more than one metre, planning permission should be sought.

Building regulations do apply to biomass installations. Installers are required to take into account ventilation, noise and general safety, whilst regulations will also apply to any plumbing or electrical work carried out in relation to the project.


Mike Blakeley


Mike-BlakeleyMike Blakeley has worked with biomass for more than 30 years and heads up IXUS Energy’s accredited biomass training programme.

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About Author

Melanie Jarvis is the Editor of My Renovations Magazine and the Community Manager for The Sussex Newspaper, the largest online newspaper in Sussex, UK. She is also the Editor of the social media guide - How to use Facebook for Business. Alongside her editing roles Melanie Jarvis is the Project Manager for extension specialists, Onebuild. Not only does she oversee all of the residential builds, she also places supervisors on extensive commercial works in London.

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