Bright-Minded Home – March 2014

By Melissa Coleman

Q+A with Dutch Dresser of Maine Energy Systems about Wood Pellet Boilers

When Dutch Dresser cofounded Maine Energy Systems (MESys) in 2007 he was living in a drafty 3,500-square-foot home with an oil boiler in Bethel. In 2008 he supplemented with a small 68,000 BTU Bosch wood pellet boiler, which heated the house and hot water until temperatures went below zero. Last year he exchanged the Bosch for a 32-kilowatt (109,000 BTU) MESys AutoPellet boiler and has been able to heat with wood pellets alone.

Q: What have you liked about using a wood pellet boiler in general?

A: First, they have a comfortable, uniform heat that my wife says she prefers because it doesn’t turn on and off like an oil boiler. Second, we save money by using fewer BTUs at a cheaper price than oil. Third, the money we spend on wood pellets goes into the local Maine economy, and wood is part of an active carbon cycle, unlike oil, which reintroduces carbon sequestered millions of years ago.

Q: What have you liked about the new AutoPellet boiler?

A: The AutoPellet is a fully automatic system, which both feeds and cleans itself, de-ashes the base of the boiler, and stores ashes in an ashbox that is emptied a few times a year, whereas our Bosch required cleaning every few weeks.

Q: What is your annual heating cost with the wood pellet boiler?

A: Wood pellets cost the equivalent of $1.99 a gallon for oil. If I burn 1,200 gallons of oil on a cold winter like this, that’s $4,512 at today’s price. I will likely burn less than 10 tons of pellets this winter, so about $2,390, saving more than $2,000.

Q: What’s next?

A: We hope to see Europe’s higher-efficiency residential condensing boilers and boilers that make electricity from flue gas heat come to the U.S. soon.  

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