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GUIDE TO: biomass boilers

Looking for a sustainable, low-carbon alternative to mains gas? Nigel Griffiths explains the benefits and costs of these wood-fuelled heating systems
This BioWIN 2 boiler from Windhager has a manuallyfed pellet hopper.
Winner of the 2015 Build It Award for Best Heating Product, the OctoPlus biomass boiler from Solar Focus is available in 10kW, 15kW and 22kW outputs and features an integrated buffer cylinder that stores the heat created

Burning wood in order to heat your home may seem like a pretty old-fashioned idea, but modern technology has brought us way past the traditional open fireplace. In the right circumstances, today’s bells-and-whistles biomass boilers can rival gas in terms of running costs – and potentially deliver a sustainable, low-carbon solution for your project.

What is biomass?

In basic terms, it’s any form of plant matter that can be burned to deliver heat. In practice, it’s normally wood. This could simply be logs, or it might be a wood waste product (such as chips or pellets) that’s specifically suited to fuelling boilers. In addition, energy crops such as miscanthus are grown explicitly for use as a fuel – but these are typically only used for large-scale commercial operations as opposed to domestic installations.

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About Build It

The September edition of Build It magazine will help you get your self-build, renovation or extension project off on the right foot. It’s packed with inspiration and advice, including: • Britain's best self-builds and renovations (page 19) • A contemporary, low-maintenance home (page 30) • Prefab homes: The future of self-build? (page 70) • Why underfloor heating makes sense for renovations (page 73) • How to create the perfect kitchen-diner extension (page 94) • How to get value for money (page 106) … and more!