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pelletstoveA recent analysis done by Get Your GreenBack Tompkins shows that, despite the recent plunge in fossil fuel prices, heating with wood pellets is significantly more affordable than heating with fuel oil or propane. The analysis compared costs of different fuel sources per BTU (British Thermal Unit, a standard unit for measuring heat energy), and found that at present prices an average home in Tompkins County would spend almost $1,200 on wood pellets compared to close to $1,400 for heating oil and approximately $2,200 for propane.

The analysis is based on an average home using approximately 80 million BTUs per heating season.

Amount & Cost of Heating Fuel for Average Tompkins County Home (80 million BTUs)
Fuel Type Cost of Fuel Amount of Fuel
Wood Pellets $1,197 4.7 Tons of Wood Pellets
Heating Oil $1,386 578 Gallons
Propane $2,165 873 Gallons

In addition, prices for the fossil fuels have fluctuated dramatically over the last 10 years, while pellet prices have remained relatively stable.

Current state and federal incentives combined with local programs and discounts have brought down the costs of pellet stoves significantly. Incentives are particularly generous for homes that have limited incomes and don’t have access to natural gas. A number of Tompkins County residents have found that once they thoroughly insulated and air sealed their homes, they could heat them comfortably with a single pellet stove. Lisa Ferguson from Ithaca reflected on her experience doing this: "I can’t say enough how much more pleasant it is to live through a winter in Ithaca when your house is warm." And noted that "We’re saving some serious money over what we were paying for propane.”

Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County and Get Your GreenBack Tompkins are hosting a series of presentations called “Green & Cozy” on the benefits of pellet heat and energy efficiency, including one at the Lansing Community Center on Tuesday, April 5th from 6-8 pm.

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