A Greener Indiana

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Outdoor Wood Boilers (OWB)


Many people ask howI feel about OWB, and have to admit I have mixed feelings. It’s quite true they will help you cut costs on your heating bill but there are some
less desirable characteristics that should be considered. These include cost, environmental impact, emissions, and health
problems.



For those of you that don’t know, an OWB is a wood burning furnace that has a small insulated shed with a small smokestack. It burns wood that heats water that
passes through underground pipes to heat a home or a building.



Cost Effectiveness


You need to have steady supply of wood. It’s most cost effective if you have a wood supply on your own property, however if that’s not possible you’ll have to
either purchase what you need, or creatively uncover free options. You can also have wood delivered but you will need to buy in bulk
if you’re to have any cost savings. When you buy in bulk, many times it isn’t
cut or split, so you’ll need to invest in a chainsaw and a log splitter.



Boilers are a major investment, you can expect to spend anywhere from $2000-$10,000.



Pollution


An OWB emits smoke 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These stoves have a large firebox that can be loaded with enough wood for 24 hours; they need to burn a
lot of wood to generate enough heat, which in the end creates 100 times the pollution of a conventional wood stove.



Because of the harmful effects of these systems, the state of Washington has banned them. Many groups around the United States are campaigning to have them banned
due to their health hazards and the EPA is listening. In response to this, OWB
manufacturers have introduced gasification boilers which emit less pollution BUT
cost a lot more. In addition, they require a lot of babysitting and can use up
to 20 cords of wood per season.



My Take


In theory, an OWB is a great idea if you want to avoid the mess that comes with a conventional wood stove or if you want the convenience of integrating it into
your hot-water heating system. However, I believe it makes more sense to invest
in a product that will help you save money, cut down on your current work load,
and decrease the negative impact on the environment and those around you. I
guess it depends on what scale you’re using to measuring with. What do you
think?


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Tags: boiler, fire, outdoor, wood, woodstove

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