Conversion to pellet heating – makes economic and ecological sense

Approximately 40,000 pellet heating systems were newly installed across the country in 2015 according to estimates. One of these can be found in Michael Elpe's yard in Recklinghausen. The 29-year old has converted. Consciously converted. The old oil stove was discarded. Instead of fossil fuels, Elpe now uses sustainable raw materials.

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Two people who have a burning interest in environmental protection and look forward to using a new pellet heating system: Michael Elpe and his son, Anton. Conversion to pellet heating – makes economic and ecological sense
Two people who have a burning interest in environmental protection and look forward to using a new pellet heating system: Michael Elpe and his son, Anton.

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Anton can hardly wait. The four-year old child finally wants to shake the first wooden pellets into the silo together with his father, Michael Elpe. The fitters just have to fit the final handles. Shortly afterwards, both father and son tear open a 15 kilogram sack of pellets, and let them trickle into the container. The new pellet heating system is now ready to use. “Pellets are an indigenous product and CO2 neutral,” he says – from both personal conviction and also as a pellets salesman. Elpe is active with Raiffeisen Bio-Brennstoffe GmbH Raiffeisen Bio-Brennstoffe GmbH. The associated company belonging to AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG sells this fuel under the “RPellets” brand name.

450 square metres of living space are heated in a cost-effective manner.

The pellet stove in Elpe's house has an output of 20 kW. The weekly storage silo holds 120 kilograms of pellets pellets. At full load, this quantity would last for 30 hours. “We’re starting with filling up the weekly storage silo by hand,” says Michael Elpe. The attic space above the threshing floor provides enough space to set up a larger pellet store at a later time and to modify the system so that it is automatically filled up. This decision does not have to be made in haste. This is because the pellet heating system is not the only source of heat at Elpe's farm, which houses two generations of the family. A wood-burning stove with water chamber and a solar tube collector on the roof are the other two components. “Compared to the oil heater, an innovative control system means that all three systems are optimally coordinated with each other,” explains Jürgen Drobnitza. The certified energy consultant designed the system for Michael Elpe. A living space of 450 square metres isn't just kept warm without any issues, but is also heated in a cost-effective manner. “Due to the intelligent control system the need for pellets will drop by approximately 10 to 20 percent,” reports the host. In addition, the greater efficiency of the system is complemented by its longer running time.

From an economic perspective, a pellet heating system is very attractive.

However, is a pellet heating system not more expensive than another form of heating technology? It goes without saying that Michael Elpe had pondered this idea for some time. He also admitted that he was sceptical for a long time regarding the costs. “I thought the investment total would have been higher.” However, from an economic perspective, a pellet heating system is actually very attractive. This is because from April 2015 onwards, government funding rates are considerably higher. Michael Elpe received a grant worth 5,500 euro. Deducting the grant from the overall investment total of 10,500 euro then this means the individual contribution was 5,000 euro. The kilowatt hour pellets remain attractive from a long-term economic perspective despite the oil price remaining low. When based on the oil prices as at the end of 2015, Elpe would have saved 842 euro on the running costs over the course of the year. That would be at a minimum, as lower consumption due to the intelligent heating control system is not taken into account. “This means the investment pays for itself quite quickly,” establishes Elpe in the face of this calculation. “And I also have a climate-neutral heating system for the next 15 to 20 years.” The maintenance, adds Jürgen Drobnitza, is no greater than that required for an oil heater. Also, no-one needs to worry about overly frequent disposal of ash taking place. “Pellets have an ash content of 0.7 percent as a maximum,” says Jürgen Drobnitza. He empties the container on his own system every few weeks and scatters the ashes across his garden. “That is excellent fertiliser.” Michael Elpe will probably be able to rely on the support of his son Anton with this task once again. “He certainly has a burning interest in the new heating system.”