The systems are more expensive to buy, but a pellet furnace will save you tens of thousands of dollars because the fuel is so much cheaper (not to mention, better for the environment).
What is a realistic wood pellet furnace price? At anywhere from $11,000-$25,000, a pellet furnace costs more than an oil or gas furnace. But when we talk about wood pellet furnace prices, we need to consider not just the initial cost of the appliance, but also the cost of fuel over the life of the system.
High initial wood pellet furnace price
+ less state incentives
+ less expensive fuel
= long-term savings
At sustainableheating.org, we see a steady trend of homeowners who are sick and tired of oil and gas heating. Because furnaces have such a long life span, it’s not always easy to see the long-term trends. Humans by nature are more interested in today’s dollars. So let’s take a look at the 25-year appliance lifecycle context.
A wood pellet furnace price calculation should compare the price of heating fuel.
25 years ago in 1993, heating oil was $0.75 a gallon; today we’re at around $2.60. That has more than tripled. Since past is prologue, 25 years from now you can expect oil to be over $6.75 per gallon based on straight-line increases. But during the next 25 years, we’re going to have spikes likely in excess of $12 per gallon based on historical trends. I bet you’re thinking “that’s impossible,” but I guarantee that back in 1993 there’s no way you would have believed that oil prices would go from $0.75 to over four dollars in just 25 years. But clearly they did.
It’s not that wood pellets don’t go up in price; they do. But they go up much more slowly and without the spikes of petroleum-based products. That’s partially because they aren’t subject to speculation on the commodities market and partially because wood pellets are locally manufactured and delivered across much shorter supply lines.
So how much savings? Tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the system.
AND there are state incentives all over New England that make a pellet furnace more competitive with fossil fuel furnaces. Why would states subsidize one particular industry and technology over another? Because they all have clean energy goals and no matter how well we do with electric and transportation, we won’t reach our clean energy goals without fixing greenhouse gas emissions from our heating systems. In fact, switching from an oil boiler to one that runs on wood pellets is the biggest single carbon reduction upgrade available to homeowners.
A new path to purchase
Pellet boilers are not off-the-shelf products. Think of it more like a new roof: no contractor is just going to throw a price out at you without knowing the scope of the project. What’s the area? Metal or asphalt shingle? How many dormers? Are there flat areas or porch roof sections? Swapping a gas boiler for an oil boiler is pretty straightforward and cheap (although not in the long run). A pellet boiler by comparison requires system sizing; bulk or bagged pellet storage; hydronic storage; chimney and venting; and what’s called a near-boiler package (don’t ask). The point is, it’s just not an off-the-shelf consumer item.
For the past hundred years, home heating has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of the fossil fuel industry. Pellet furnaces disrupt that status quo. Oil and gas furnaces are sold to heating professionals through the plumbing and heating dealership network. Because the number of pellet furnaces that are sold annually are not even close to the number of oil and gas furnaces, most heating contractors still don’t even know that pellet furnaces are a thing. It’s up to us if we want to change that.
The wood pellet furnace price does not reflect the green energy benefit.
If we hope to leave a habitable environment for the next generation, we aren’t going to get there without addressing the heating pollution problem from our current petroleum-based heating systems. The new path to purchase starts with homeowner demand and resolves with a collaboration between the homeowner, the pellet furnace manufacturer, and an innovative heating professional.
There are a lot of people advocating for green energy, green jobs, and a workable solution to climate change. The initial price of a wood pellet furnace may be high, but it saves twice the emissions of switching to a hybrid car and three times more than solar panels. Anyone ready to take direct action can disrupt the status quo by reaching out directly to the manufacturers. Just type “wood pellet furnace” or “wood pellet boiler” into your favorite search engine.