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Local symposium focuses on options for renewable heating

November 6, 2013

By University of Illinois Extension

FREEPORT, Ill. — With the weather turning colder, exploring less expensive home and business heating options was a timely topic. Speakers at the Oct. 17 Tri-State Heating with Biomass Symposium in Freeport, Ill., presented a compelling case for renewable wood and other biomass heating options.

The symposium highlighted ideas about how biomass heating can offer an economical heating option and provide economic benefit to the communities. Saving money for the end user, creating business opportunities, and keeping energy dollars in the local economy were the common themes of the symposium.

We are not talking about the old fireplace from your childhood,” said Jay Solomon, University of Illinois Extension energy and environmental stewardship educator. “Wood heating units have improved significantly in performance and efficiency from the traditional fireplace. Modern biomass heating units operate more like the petroleum-fueled counterparts. Many pellet and wood chip units can be installed in place of traditional units. Except for the fuel storage, they look and function essentially the same.”

The symposium presenters outlined the many advantages and opportunities for woody biomass heating in the area. Building on the home and business owner fuel savings benefits, local business opportunities include fuel delivery, heating unit sales and maintenance, and fuel production.

A great deal of valuable information was shared today,” said symposium co-host Scott Anderson, dean of business and technology at Highland Community College in Freeport. “Anything we can do to grow and produce our energy locally is a win for everyone.”

Wood heat can be a cost-saving option for home and business owners relying on fuel oil, liquid petroleum gas, and electricity for building and process heat. Regionally-sourced wood pellets, wood chips, cord wood or other biomass sources have a lower average price on a heating value basis than these other fuels. The initial biomass heating unit cost tends to be higher, but in many instances, the total cost over the lifetime of the unit is less.

The symposium was organized and hosted by University of Illinois Extension, Highland Community College, and University of Wisconsin-Extension. The information from the symposium will be posted on the local University of Illinois Extension website at web.extension.illinois.edu/jsw or contact the office at (815) 235 4125.

Posted Nov. 6, 2013

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