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Pellet Boiler incentives and/or tax breaks for domestic houses

  • 09-03-2022 8:19pm
    Registered Users Posts: 6,205 ✭✭✭

    So pellet boilers are considered to be environmentally friendly. Solar panels are also considered to be environmentally friendly. You can get a grant for solar panels but you can't for pellet boilers. Is there any particular reason why the government does not actively try to promote the use of pellet boilers by private individuals in Ireland? I will be purchasing a pellet boiler for my new (very old) home in the not so distant future. It's a protected structure so solar panels are not permitted on the roof. A heat pump would not work as the house is not insulated like a modern home. I had already been hesitant to go down the kerosene route as I assumed prices would only increase over time and as we know, that time was very very short and it's likely to be the case for the medium term at least. Didn't really like the idea of a kerosene boiler anyway as they are so polluting and are fossil fuel based. So pellet boiler it will be but boy are they expensive to purchase!

    Does anyone here know if there are any plans to introduce grants for individuals who want to install environmentally friendly pellet boilers in their home? With this fuel crisis only beginning, it would be in the government's interest to try promote and assist people who wish to have environmentally friendly alternatives to heat their home.


  • Registered Users Posts: 16,985 ✭✭✭✭Sleeper12

    Have a Google. There is plenty of information on it

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,205 ✭✭✭highdef

    I did Google it and could not find any useful information regarding grants or incentives for pellet boiler/biomass boilers in the troublous of Ireland. I see you posted a link for a pellet stove. That's a different product. A pellet stove will heat a room. A pellet boiler will heat a house in the same way a gas or kerosene boiler will. They are two very different kettles of fish.

    There's an incentive in the UK for pellet boilers:

    But I can't find any info for similar in Ireland unlike yourself who is aware that there is plenty of info out there to be Googled. Maybe you could help me with the plenty of info out there as I must be using the wrong keywords when searching? Thank you in advance.

  • Registered Users Posts: 68,492 ✭✭✭✭L1011

    They're basically nowhere near the claimed levels of being green. Land and water used to produce fuel that is, at best, carbon neutral over its lifetime by taking in to account carbon sequestered in the wood. It still emits carbon when burned.

    Very few places support them (or other forms of biomass) as "green". The UK is an outlier really - even having very significant biomass burning plants, converted coal ones. Even the UKs supports are being tapered and may end - so don't expect anything here.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,205 ✭✭✭highdef

    Cheers for the feedback. Whilst not being as green as some other alternatives, I would be thinking that it would be better than kerosene and with not many other alternatives suitable for my property, a wood pellet boiler seems to tick a lot of boxes for me. I've the space for both a large boiler and the space for pellet storage. Plus I'm fine with the little bit of manual labour and maintenance that's required.

    I'll also have an Aga that I purchased last week for some supplemental heating in the basement. It's reclaimed, currently disassembled and is made for natural gas. Initially I was thinking of converting it for oil but I'll probably convert it to solid fuel as I've access to wood and oil prices are fairly prohibitive. Will also have a good few solid fuel stoves, a few pellet stoves and one open fire..... Open fire is a must, not an option.

    The house is fairly large, not massive, but it's a protected structure so can't have fanciful things such as double glazing or added insulation. I just need to be able to create heat and plenty of it as very hot radiators is what I'm need when it's especially cold or/and windy.

    If anyone can suggest of something that would be suitable, can provide lots of heat, is relatively affordable and if possible, is not too damaging to the environment, please do fire away and post here.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,387 ✭✭✭Lenar3556

    There were government incentives of about €4,500 for pellet boilers circa 15 years ago. Many put them in and found them troublesome / temperamental. The price of pellets also got very expensive.

    If I had ready access to solid fuel, I would consider a solid fuel boiler heating a large buffer tank. You could pick up a good used 40-50KW pellet boiler for about €500 and convert it to burn solid fuel.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 6,205 ✭✭✭highdef

    There's been good progress and improvements in the intervening 15 years and they're more reliable now, assuming that you adhere to the basic maintenance and occasional servicing that they require. If emptying the ash pan of your stove or open fire is somehow too much of an inconvenience to your day to day life, then a pellet boiler might sound like a nightmare. Fine with me.

    However, as much as a solid fuel (wood) boiler would be perfect for me in an ideal world, my daily life would deem it to be unsuitable. Myself and my husband would often be away during the day and there'd be a requirement to have heating on demand and unfortunately a solid fuel boiler would not be possible due to the requirements to load fuel quite regularly in order to meet requirements.

    I very much appreciate your comments though and if my day to day life was different, I'd go for wood fired.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,387 ✭✭✭Lenar3556

    Has there been great advances in the overall reliability in the last 15 years? Is it significantly more viable? What has changed?

    The difficulties weren’t in emptying an ash pan. There was a considerable degree of maintenance, cleaning and general minding to keep them operational. This coupled with the cost, boiler space requirements, multi tonne pellet storage requirements, the general need for some kind of buffer tank or thermal store was quick to quench most peoples enthusiasm.

    Home heating oil is in a suddenly very volatile situation at the moment, but over the last number of years, the pellet price offered little saving per KWH vs oil and boiler solutions wouldn’t have the same efficiency either.

    I would think carefully before going down this road. There is a reason they never took off.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,205 ✭✭✭highdef

    The example I gave about emptying the ash pan was a very generalised term. I realise that there are other fairly regular tasks; cleaning the auger, giving the innards a good cleaning, etc. Initial cost is not so much of an issue as there is currently budget for it. Boiler space is not an issue nor is pellet storage. Same goes for a buffer tank.

    I don't mind a little less efficiency than oil either and I've concerns about the price of oil further down the line, say in 5 to 10 years.

  • Registered Users Posts: 628 ✭✭✭MakersMark

    Per SEAI, the price per kWH of heating for wood pellets is as low as 4.9c, while oil at the end of 2021 was 9.2c, and has increased significant since then.

    A proper wood pellet boiler and its support equipment is not cheap, but for existing Irish homes with the space, they are infinitely better than the Green Party's proposed "Heat Pumps for everyone" solution. Can you imaging running a Heat Pump in any house built here before 2020??

    I have a 96% efficient Oil boiler at the moment, when this is no longer viable I'll be putting in a Wood Pellet system (if I can find a decent installer here amongst all the cowboys). My own personal experience in Germany is that a Wood Pellet system is second to none.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,205 ✭✭✭highdef

    Cheers for the reply. I've no heating system at the moment. It's a very old and large house with plenty of space in outbuildings for a big heating system and associated storage. I have very large old single glazed wooden sash windows and alterations are not permitted, such as double glazing. A heat pump would do feck all for heating the house at the best of times. All it would would be to run 24/7 and cost an absolute fortune to keep going.

    I need heat and lots of it, via radiators. As you say, even before the recent massive jump in oil prices, it was becoming less affordable versus the likes of wood pellets. The price of pellets is relatively stable. Even gas rises in prices with oil, sometimes despite what appears at the surface to be for no reason, simply because gas and oil are linked. I will probably create a small wood (probably Eucalyptus), for the sole purpose of providing firewood, so that in a few years time I can begin harvesting my own firewood. In that case, I may invest in an dual system that can operate on pellets or logs (and solar too, if I can get permission to install a few panels), sometimes along the lines of (but not necessarily) this:

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,367 ✭✭✭JimmyVik

    I know a fair few people that got them put in. Not one of them would ever go pellets again.

    Thats tells me all I need to know. :)

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,205 ✭✭✭highdef

    Would you be able to tell more as to why they would not choose to go down the pellet boiler route again? Some specific reasons such as reliability, cost, heat output or maintenance reasons.......or any other reasons.

    As much as it's good to get feedback, it's always helpful to know the reasons behind the feedback.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,387 ✭✭✭Lenar3556

    Why would you see the heat pump as been unsuitable? With the benefit of off-peak electricity the KWH price will easily beat that which you have quoted for pellet.

    Sure older houses presumably with less insulation will take more energy to heat, but that is true of any energy source.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,387 ✭✭✭Lenar3556

    No doubt you have considered this but why the such a high energy requirement? Would improving insulation levels not be the initial step?

  • Registered Users Posts: 628 ✭✭✭MakersMark

    Homes have to be super insulated and air tight for heat pumps to work effectively, especially in our winter.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,387 ✭✭✭Lenar3556

    In fairness you could make that statement of any other heating system too, effective insulation is going to be at the heart of any heating solution.

    It’s a question of sizing - a lesser insulated dwelling will need a larger capacity heat pump and being a low temperature system will need larger transmission surface areas than a traditional higher temp boiler.

  • Registered Users Posts: 628 ✭✭✭MakersMark

    There's a difference though that I'm not making clear enough.

    A heat pump system will never get a poorly insulated house warm to begin with. You can run a traditional system and get the house warm, although a poorly insulated one will cool soon after.

    With the heat pump you will never get a comfortable temp.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,387 ✭✭✭Lenar3556

    Granted, such a scenario will arise faster than with higher temp systems because of the lower temperature circulation, but I think the magnitude of that issue is sometimes overstated.

    Many local authorities have installed them in houses built in the mid to late 2000’s with relative success, and they are principally onto radiator circuits that were originally sized for and run from oil boilers.

    The main variable is the running time, the heat pump needs to be operating considerably longer than the oil would have been to deliver the same result - but it is often achievable and within an acceptably efficient circulation temperature range.

    I would still start with insulation as that is the clear solution to heating costs with any system.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,205 ✭✭✭highdef

    My home dates from the 1840's, is quite large and critically, it is a protected structure. The vast majority of the window panes in the windows are original and as such, cannot be replaced unless damaged. This means the windows will never be great, insulation wise. Closing shutters at night and drawing heavy curtains will be added levels of insulation. I will be performing work on the windows to ensure they are as draught free as possible though.

    Currently there is no insulation on the attic floor so that is somewhere that is permitted to have insulation installed. The floors are thick solid planks of timber and original so again cannot be changed out meaning that underfloor heating would not be an option. The house is spread across 3 floors and is over 5,000 square foot. Insulation on the outside or inside of the external walls is completely off the table.

    I plan to have stoves (probably pellet stoves) in most rooms, wood/solid fuel stoves in a couple of rooms and one open fire in one of the big reception rooms. This open fire is not an option as the heritage officer insists it's an open fire. I will also have an AGA in the kitchen in the basement.

    All of these conditions (and more) were all known by myself when purchasing the property so it's not a case that I'm only discovering this now. Once the house is brought up to temperature for a decent length of time, it will keep warm pretty well as the walls are a few feet thick so getting that huge mass of walls warmed up will be a priority.

    Modern methods of heating will simply not work. Hot radiators is what it will be throughout the house. It's just a case of what method is to be used to heat those radiators and supply hot water that is to be finalised.

  • Registered Users Posts: 96 ✭✭Havenowt

    You can get heritage approved slim line double glazing. 4-8mm spacing with Krypton or Xenon gas.

    They can also supply the swirly glass to external facing glass to make them look authentic.

    These come in unit to replace each panel in your window.

    Company in Belfast.

    There is a lot involved,

    Remove original panels, rebate the window frame to take the thicker panel.

    Seal them in and re putty them.

    Reweigh the windows and add more weight to have them balanced.

    Replace rope with new waxed rope.

    It a good time to fully paint the windows and frame when out and will be good for the foreseeable future.

    Maybe do a couple of windows at a time.

    I have details for the two companies who supplied everything. I got a windows guy to fit mine.

    We stripped out the old glass and painted them. Had 23 windows to do.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 6,205 ✭✭✭highdef

    In your suggestion, is the original glass kept in the windows? If I'm reading your (very detailed and informative post, thank you) correctly, the existing glass was not reused. If that's the case, it's not an option for me as I've to keep the existing (original) glass.

    I could try pressure the heritage officer to allow me to go down the route that you suggest but I would not have high hopes of being successful. There are about 25 Windows in total, including a small number of small one over ones. Most of the windows are quite large and a good number of them are tripartite, with a six over six with two over two sidelights arrangement, the largest few being over eight foot tall. The current plan is to replace about a dozen panes due to them being either severely cracked or else have holes in them. That's about the extent of interfering of the original glass that is permitted.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,786 ✭✭✭antoinolachtnai

    it could be an option to put in secondary glazing. Either polycarbonate or glass

    i think it would be wise to do an analysis of how much heat the house needs and to work out how many pellets you will need. At a guess I suppose you will need 5 to 10 cubic meters of high quality wood pellets per year. To be able to take that in a single load you might need to construct a special store.

    Are high quality wood pellets really going to be cheaper to buy and transport compared to kerosene even with carbon tax and oil at €120/barrel? It is worth looking at this, as well as the maintenance costs. It is certainly a big advantage of you are prepared to get your hands dirty and are ready to do some boiler servicing yourself.

    I would be inclined to have an oil boiler, at least for backup.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,205 ✭✭✭highdef

    Secondary glazing is something I well try to avoid because of the asthetics. If I can make the windows draft proof, shutters and curtains should do the job of secondary glazing.

    Your suggestion about having a kerosene boiler as a backup is interesting. I had not thought of that and the added cost of including one in the initial build would not be all that great, in the grand scheme of things. There would be room to locate a second boiler alongside the pellet boiler with the associated 1,100 litre fuel tank on the outside.

    Good point!

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,724 ✭✭✭Metric Tensor

    There's plenty of sensitive interventions that can be carried out on heritage and protected structures. There will be a little variability in what the heritage officer in each local authority will consider acceptable and it will also be dependent on the building in question but your assumptions of how little you can do to the house might be a little off.

    If you are genuinely interested in protecting the environment then the fabric is the first and most important thing that needs to be addressed. How you create the heat is always the second step after reducing the demand for heat. I'd encourage you to engage a professional with expertise in heritage structures and get them to help you address the local authority's concerns. Get the air tightness and insulation details correct (it's difficult because the construction materials and styles but not impossible) and then you'll have a lesser heat demand to supply - by whatever means.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,205 ✭✭✭highdef

    Cheers, @Metric Tensor . The house itself has been considered to be unique and preserved enough to have led to the decision to repair rather than replace in as many instances as is possible. The widespread survival of the original single pane glass within original sash windows has prompted the conservation officer to only allow replacement panes where the existing ones are damaged beyond repair and they must be replaced with something as similar as possible to the originals.

    I'm currently awaiting feedback from my architect who specialises in heritage structures so I guess the feedback from him will be where the ball really gets rolling.

  • Registered Users Posts: 96 ✭✭Havenowt

    We didn't have original glass to keep as there was new sash windows (10 yrs old)in half of the house when we bought it.

    These were made using two planes of glass stuck together.

    It may be possible you use your existing planes of glass with the new slime line glass panels. You would have to check with the company on that.

    They can supply new old looking wavy glass that will look like your own glass if they wont use your own glass.

    I'm sure the heritage officer wouldn't know the difference between the old/new wavy glasd, he is just going to be looking for the waves in the glass.

    You could look for a couple of sample..

    options 1

    New wavy or existing wavy glass on exterior and clean plain glass on the inside of double glaze panel.

    * from the outside all you see i s the wavy glass.

    option 2

    wavy glass on exterior and internal side of double glaze panels

    Hope this helps.

    Post edited by Havenowt on

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,560 ✭✭✭Slutmonkey57b

    Our house had a wood pellet boiler installed by the previous owners. Not only would I not ever get one again, the guy that made his living servicing them said "I would tell anyone to get rid of them and get oil or gas instead". They are a nightmare, painful to run, very inefficient, very few people service them, very expensive in maintenance and running costs, and best of all they are seriously ecologically unsound.

    1. "Green energy"
      1. Wood pellets took off in industrial use in Germany in the 60's and 70's when the material used for wood pellets was a waste product from other industries, and effectively "free". By the time the rest of residential world was getting on board, all that material was used for flat-pack furniture and now there is no "waste" material for recycling into pellets.
      2. This means that your wood pellets come from new fast-growth evergreen trees which do not soak up much carbon in their short lifetime and also contribute to the serious ecological issue of monoculture forestation, loss of habitat, soil destruction, etc.
      3. Your new growth evergreens now need to be cut down (oil use), stripped of leaves, bark and branches (oil use), transported to processing (oil use), processed (oil use and whatever is generating the electricity), put in plastic bags (oil use), trucked to a distribution centre (oil use), then trucked to your house (oil use).
      4. Now, you have to burn the pellets at (if you're lucky) 50-60% efficiency.
      5. At the end of all this you've burned up a huge amount of oil getting the pellets to your house, at which point you've inefficiently burned the pellets, thus probably contributing as much carbon as if you were just using existing mains gas. You have a tiny offset of the small amount of carbon soaked up by fast growth evergreens a few years old.
    2. "cleaning out an ash pan"
      1. Maintenance on these things is h-o-r-r-i-f-i-c .
      2. Firstly you have the ash disposal problem. Not only is the ash in a pan, like a normal fire, it is also inside the vents and chimney. Unlike a normal fire, you'll have to vacuum out those vents and chimneys several times a year. Like, every month.
      3. Next you have the non-ash problem - tar and other bitumens. If your **** wood pellet boiler isn't exactly in its operating window, or more likely the batch of pellets you just bought for hundreds of euro is of slightly different composition, guess what?
        1. The insides of your boiler are now caked in a glossy, impossible to remove layer of tar and bitumen.
        2. So are your chimneys and vents.
        3. This affects the already crappy efficiency of the boiler, reduces your heat generation, and creates a serious maintenance problem.
    3. The **** Auger.
      1. The godddammed, motherfucking, piece of absolute ****, auger.
      2. You will be unsticking this every week. Or every other day. Or multiple times a day.
        1. Because it's just coming up to its maintenance window.
        2. Because it's getting worn.
        3. Or there is one pellet which is just a little thinner, or half broken, and is stuck between the auger and the housing, because the tolerances on these machines is ****.
        4. Or, best of all, the 1 ton load of pellets you just bought is of slightly different composition to the last load, and is getting stuck because it's damper.
        5. Or, the weather has changed, and the pellets have got a tiny little bit damper. Not wet, not anything you'd feel, but they've just swollen.
        6. Or shrunk because it's hotter. That's also a thing.
        7. Oh you've got a suction system? That's great, that won't ever get clogged or blocked at all. Say, are you in the market for a bridge? Because I've got an old one from Brooklyn if you're interested.
    4. Hope you like waiting
      1. You know when there's a cold snap and you like to put the heating on? Well, hope you like being cold. Because you'll be waiting 45 minutes for this piece of **** to start actually generating regular amounts of heat once it starts mumbling those expensive pellets through its maw.
    5. Money
      1. Pellets cost a fortune. And because your boiler is very inefficient, you'll be using a lot of them.
      2. And as your boiler gets older, and things like tar and general wear come into effect, you'll be buying even more of them.
      3. Unlike a gas or oil boiler, these things aren't cheap. Like, 10 times the price. And servicing them isn't cheap because not many companies will do them. Because they're a pain in the hole.
      4. You need a humidity controlled area for it. Your coal shed is no good for storing pellets in. Any hint of excess damp, then your pellets, and your boiler (unless the pellets are in a reliably hermetically sealed area in the boiler) are fucked. So you'll be spending money making somewhere suitable for all this **** to go.
      5. You won't be putting one of these inside the house. Not unless you've got a large workshop/garage you're not using. They're big, the pellet storage requires somewhere you can manoeuvre pallets around, and you also have to ventilate.
      6. Our heating bill fell in half when we switched from pellets to gas.

    So in summary, they're expensive to put in, expensive to maintain, expensive to run, polluting, a **** nightmare to deal with, a regular source of frustration, and they don't **** work.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,159 ✭✭✭RainInSummer

    Just a quick note on large scale pellet storage, they give off carbon monoxide too. Not just while being burned, but whilst being stored too.