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Information about solar thermal, geothermal, pellet stoves, biodiesel and veggie oil furnaces and more!

Table of Contents Heat Local Challenge - PFBFEF

Page 1

Table of Contents

Page 2


Pages 3-4

Energy Efficiency

Pages 5-6

Solar Thermal

Pages 7-8

Pellet Stoves

Pages 9-10

Biodiesel or WVO Furnaces

Pages 11-12


Page 13

Other Options

Page 14

Business Directory and Further Info

PrairieFire Biofuels Education Foundation and Willy Street Co-Op are teaming up to bring you the first ever Heat Local Challenge! We are working to educate the public about locally available sources of heating. We will also look at efficiency measures that can help make the most of your renewable energy investment. • • • • • •

Benefits of locally sourced heat Economic development Lower carbon footprint than traditional heat sources Energy independence Less transportation costs and impact Tax credits and other financial incentives Reduction in utility bill

PrairieFire BioFuels Education Foundation is a volunteer run 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Madison, Wisconsin. Our mission is to educate and empower individuals about the use of non-petroleum based fuels.

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Efficiency In order to make the most of any renewable resource, it is important that consideration is given to the efficiency of current systems and your home's energy use. While we are focused on heating efficiencies, an approach that evaluates all of your home's energy consumption will yield greater savings. Home Heating Efficiency There are many ways to help your home retain the heat that is generated and to reduce the amount of heat that is used. Below is a list of simple measures you can take to increase the efficiency of your home, by no means is it a comprehensive list. • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Check for air gaps and seal with caulk or weather-stripping Ensure adequate insulation is present in exterior walls. Put plastic sheeting on inside of windows. Utilize a thermostat with a timer to lower temperatures when you are away or sleeping. Install storm windows. Maintain furnaces and replace filters when needed. Turn your thermostat down to the lowest temperature you are comfortable with. Look into the possibility of an electronic ignition for your furnace in place of a traditional pilot light. Wear more clothes, which will allow you to lower the thermostat even more. Reduce the use of kitchen and bathroom fans. Use ceiling fans on low speeds to force hot air down. Upgrade to a high-efficiency energy star furnace. Install a tankless hot water heater. Page 3

Average energy consumption percentages for US household.

Source: Energy Information Administration (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook, 2009

*Note: “Other Energy Uses” includes small electric devices, heating elements, and motors; such appliances as swimming pool and hot tub heaters, outdoor grills, and outdoor natural gas lighting; wood used for primary and secondary heating in wood stoves or fireplaces; and kerosene and coal. “Other Electric Uses” includes color TVs (6%), PCs (2%), furnace fans

Clogged furnace filters can greatly Seal gaps around windows with reduce the efficiency of a furnace. sealant to prevent hot air from escaping. Page 4

Solar Thermal Heating and Hot Water

In addition to providing electricity with photovoltaics, the sun can provide heat for your home's air, water, and cooking needs.

In order a solar thermal Example of two active solar thermal system, a site should have heat collector panels. some amount of minimally shaded south facing exposure. to circulate heat, and therefore require a small amount of Passive solar thermal electricity to operate. systems rely on building design and modification. The Active solar thermal is often windows, walls and floors used for domestic hot water collect, store and distribute systems. The system pre-heats thermal energy in forms of the water that goes into the heat and light. existing water heater. Hot water can also be used for hot Active solar thermal water and other low temp systems utilize a pump or fan heating applications.

For more information: thermal_heating_cooling

Active solar air helps reduce the demand on current heating systems and is most often utilized for sizable buildings where large ductwork is required. Solar air has no reservoir or heat storage and is turned on and off as needed.

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Advantages of Solar Thermal

Disadvantages of Solar Thermal

Zero carbon or other emissions.

Inconsistent due to cloud cover, season and time of day.

Low maintenance.

Systems are typically designed to operate for upwards of 25 years.

Site must meet specific criterion for installation (south facing, proper angle, limited/no shading etc.)

The only fuel needed is the sun, which is renewable and free.

Relatively low energy conversion rates in comparison with other renewable energies.

Passive solar relies on home design and modification. Page 6

Pellet Stoves

Pellet stoves produce a consistent emissions than other solid and easily controllable heat, and fuel combustion based heating are more efficient than traditional systems. wood fired stoves. Heated air is Pellets are most often made from blown into the living space by a wood byproducts, mainly sawdust from mills and lumber yards. blower motor. There are many other fuels that can be pelletized with varying Pellet stoves work best in combination or in place of forced results, and some pellet stoves air furnaces. There are also pellet can fire other fuels like corn fed boilers, barbeques and other kernels directly. products available. Pellet prices vary, but are typically competitive with even Pellet burning is far more the afordable rival, natural gas. efficient and has significantly lower particulate matter Page 7

Advantages of Pellet Stoves

Disadvantages of Pellet Stoves

Pellets can be sourced locally. •

Require electricity to run

Can be sourced from waste • stream feedstocks.

Require regular maintenance.

Lower up-front costs than most other renewable energies.

• Can be noisy. • Fuel availability can vary.

Can fit in most situations

Good carbon reduction potential.

Convenient (auto ignition options etc.)

EPA approved, with no emissions testing required.

• Some models are quite expensive. • Pellets produce more particulate matter than some fuels sources (natural gas etc.)

For more information: Significantly less particulate your_home/space_heating_cooling/ matter than conventional index.cfm/mytopic=12570

wood burning stoves.

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Biodiesel or Straight Vegetable Oil Fueld Furnaces

Biodiesel is a chemically altered form of vegetable oil that is used in place of heating oil or diesel fuel. It is possible to burn unaltered vegetable oil if it is preheated before burning. The oil is used in furnaces designed for heating oil, which can be very costly. Feedstocks for these fuels can come from virgin oils or used oils from a variety of Oil should be properly filtered and dewatered before crops, including sunflower, soy, corn, rapeseed and more. utilization, especially in the Each feedstock has it's own case of used oil. characteristics of growth and oil produced. Many individuals make their own biodiesel in their garage. Proper care and knowledge must be taken to ensure a safe and high quality fuel. Page 9

Advantages of Biodiesel/SVO Furnaces

Disadvantages of Biodiesel/SVO Furnaces

Biodiesel can significantly • reduce particulate matter and CO2 emissions compared to fuel oil and diesel.

Growing crops to produce biodiesel creates a feed meal co-product that can be fed to • livestock.

If using a furnace that is not designed for biodiesel, seals, hoses, filters and possibly pumps may need to be replaced with biodiesel compatible options. Biodiesel tends to clean sediment out of existing lines and tanks, filter changes will be necessary in the beginning of the transition.

Replaces fuel oil, which is an expensive petroleum based source of heat.

Can be added in blends with regular heating oil.

Biodiesel has low toxicity and• is biodegradable.

Biodiesel can burn in almost any oil furnace with little For more information visit: modification. biodiesel_basics/

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Finding supply of biodiesel, or creating your own can require significant effort. Requires indoor or underground storage to prevent gelling.


The upper 10 feet of the earth's surface maintains an almost constant temperature of 45 to 75 degrees fahrenheit, depending on location. Most geothermal heating and cooling systems capture this heat using a ground source heat pump and a refrigeration cycle. Most geothermal systems also work in reverse during summer months to cool a building. Some deeper and larger geothermal reservoirs can be tapped directly through more costly and advanced technologies.

Geothermal systems are best for radiant floor heating systems. They are also often able to provide hot water as in addition to heating and cooling. Most home geothermal installations are refered to as a closed loop system. A length of pipe is coiled and looped underground and filled with an anti-freeze solution. As the solution is heated or cooled it is sent into the building for low temperature heating applications. Other systems are open loop, in these systems a pond or well is used and water is pumped in and out of the system as it operates. Adequate runoff and a clean water source are required for open loop systems.

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Advantages of Geothermal

Disadvantages of Geothermal

• Installation costs can be high.

• Low operating costs

• After groundwork and install are completed the • Number of sites is limited by space and other factors energy is virtually free. • Suited for new homes as the foundation already requires digging.

• Some systems require an expansive water resource.

• Closed loop systems with anti-freeze can contain • Use very little electricity CFC’s and HCFC’S. compared with other heating systems. • Require electricity to operate.

A large part of the initial cost of a geothermal system is the groundwork, which requires heavy machinery and can be very costly.

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Other Options While we have provided information on the most common and practical locally available heating sources, there are other options that are worth noting. Masonry Heaters In appearance, masonry heaters are similar to a traditional wood burning fire-place, but they operate in a different manner. Small fires are burned in a fire box one or two times a day. The heat and smoke are distributed through a mass of masonry (bricks) via long twisting channels. The heat is collected, stored and distributed through the bricks, while the smoke and fumes are exhausted. This method allows for very high efficiency, lower emissions, and less creosote buildup in the chimney than conventional wood

Anaerobic Digesters By encouraging microorganisms to break down organic matter in the absence of oxygen, several gases (chiefly methane) are produced. Methane can be burned to create both electricity and heat. The heat can be used for many things, including home heating. Common applications are: medium-large dairy farms, landfills, sewage treatment plants and food processing plants.

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Business Directory and Further Information To find renewable energy installers for solar thermal, anaerobic digestion, pellet or other biomass combustion and more: To find geothermal installers in Wisconsin: _________________________________________________ Further Information: For scores of information on efficiency, renewable energy and more be sure to visit: For detailed information about grants, tax and other incentive programs: Other suggested websites: (for kids!) An online and downloadable version of this pamphlet can be found on our website at: Page 14

Heat Local Challenge - PFBFEF