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Switching from Heating Oil to Wood Pellets

With sustainable fuel a hot topic, more and more users are switching from heating oil to wood pellets as their primary source of heating.

Wood pellets have been established as a popular fuel source for a number of years in mainland Europe where over 600,000 installations exist. Some regions of Austria and Germany have over 40% of their buildings heated by this sustainable fuel. This type of biomass heating has now made its way to the UK and, since the introduction of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) in November 2011, wood pellets have become an attractive alternative to heating oil, gas or LPG.

Oil burners, in particular, are switching to wood pellets due to the financial savings and the similar nature of the fuel. Pellets have a high energy density and behave like liquid fuels. They can be poured into a storage tank, do not rot or degrade and boilers systems can run automatically.

Switching from heating oil to wood pellets has clear advantages:

Financial benefits of RHI

Introduced for commercial and public sector organisation, the RHI provides regular payments to the biomass user for the amount of energy produced over a guaranteed 20 year period.  With a return on investment typically within five years the user benefits from an RHI income for the remaining 15 years of the scheme.  Wood Pellet heating does not count towards carbon emissions meaning organisations are able to avoid any existing or future carbon taxes. No financial incentives are available if sticking with heating oil.

Domestic users can also benefit financially when switching in to wood pellet heating.  The domestic RHI scheme pays 12.2 pence per kWh of heat used over a full 7 year period. 

Better for the environment

Up to 80% less carbon dioxide is emitted from burning wood pellets when compared to heating oil. With the Government working hard to reduce CO2 emission levels, switching to wood pellets is one of the most effective ways to meet these targets. The CO2 released when burning wood pellets is exactly the same amount that is absorbed during the life cycle of the tree.


If you spill heating oil, then you have a major pollution problem on your hands. If you spill wood pellets, then you can easily tidy them away with no lasting repercussion. Wood pellets can be kept neatly stored away in a dry area with no damage to the environment around them.

Easy transition

It’s easy to switch from heating oil to wood pellets as they use similar types of boiler systems. Both run automatically with no need for stoking or shovelling. Wood pellets boilers are thermostatically controlled – and can even be controlled from the comfort of your iPad (depending on your boiler).

The financial, environmental and ease of switching to a wood pellet boiler is impossible to ignore.