Costs and benefits of pellet stoves
Last updated 1/22/2020
The cost of a new pellet stove installation will vary based on a variety of factors, including the type of system and the size of your property. Pellet stoves may not cost nearly as much upfront as other clean heating and cooling technologies, but they can still provide savings on your heating bill.
How much does a pellet stove cost?
Depending on the size of your pellet stove and the type of stove you choose to install, you can expect the upfront cost to fall between $1,500 and $3,500. After installation, you’ll need to buy the pellets to keep your stove fueled and burning - most homeowners using pellet stoves need between two and three tons of pellet fuel per year, and with pellets costing somewhere between $180 and $250 per ton, you might pay up to $750 each year for pellet fuel.
Factors that determine the cost of a pellet stove
Your decision between a freestanding versus an insert pellet stove will influence the price you pay. In general, insert stoves cost more both for the stove and for the installation, primarily as a result of upgrades you’ll need beyond the pellet stove equipment itself. For example, running electricity to your chimney or installing a new chimney liner will increase your pellet stove installation costs.
As with all home appliances, the larger and more powerful the appliance, the more it will cost. In the case of pellet stoves, size is measured in British Thermal Units, or BTUs. Pellet stoves usually come in sizes somewhere between 8,000 and 90,000 BTUs. As a rule-of-thumb, according to the Department of Energy, a pellet stove rated at 60,000 BTUs can heat an open-plan, 2,000 square foot property.
You can purchase pellet stoves with a variety of features, each of which will typically come at an additional cost. Upgraded or advanced systems that include automatic pellet feeders, remote-adjustable thermostats, blower units, and more, will cost additional money upfront but can make operating and cleaning your pellet stove easier down the line.
Lastly, you can always pay more for pellet stoves that come with improved aesthetics. Just like other appliances or furniture, a higher-end look will cost more money. Certain materials also increase pricing, such as stainless steel model.
Pellet stove rebates and incentives
Currently, there are no federal rebates or incentives for installing a pellet stove - the $300 biomass stove federal tax credit expired in 2016. However, certain states offer their own rebate and incentive programs for pellet stove installations.
For example, in New York, homeowners can receive one of two cash incentives for installing a new pellet stove: one associated with recycling an old unit, and one for lower-income households.
Financial benefits of pellet stoves
According to the Pellet Fuels Institute, pellet stoves are equal to or better than all conventional forms of heating on a cost per BTU basis. Given the price of wood pellet fuel, the fuel cost of buying pellets to run your stove is equal to or more cost-efficient on a dollars-per-BTU basis than purchasing oil, gas or electricity for heating purposes. Fueling a natural gas boiler or traditional wood stove is similar in price to running a pellet stove. Of course, prices for fuel fluctuate from season to season and from year to year, but in general, pellet stoves are less expensive to run than heating setups that use oil, electricity, or natural gas.
Environmental impact of pellet stoves
Pellet stoves are generally considered to be one of the cleanest forms of solid fuel heating options available when it comes to air pollution. Pellet stoves emit fewer gases than coal, wood, charcoal, peat, and more. However, assessing the environmental impact of pellet fuel and stoves isn’t entirely cut and dry, mainly due to the fact that the fuel comes from trees that are cut down and turned into pellets.
When harvested sustainably, pellet fuel may live up to its name as a clean solid fuel option. Importantly, the carbon impact of any biomass fuel depends on how the biomass is harvested, any re-growing efforts to replace the felled trees, and the energy resource it’s displacing, among other factors. If pellet fuel companies harvest trees at a faster rate than they’re being re-planted and grown, the carbon neutrality of the fuel is compromised. Trees and other plants also capture differing amounts of carbon depending on their age, which makes carbon accounting for woody biomass even more complicated.