are biomass heating expensive

Is Biomass Heating Expensive?

Like other renewable heating systems, many people have questions regarding biomass systems. For example, is biomass heating expensive? This is usually the most common question raised by prospective buyers.

Biomass heating systems are very expensive when you consider just their initial cost. This is because they can cost between the range of £4,000 to £10,000 for manually fed boilers and £10,000 to £20,000 for automatically fed boilers.

These systems are also the cheapest to run when you consider their fuel cost compared to other heating systems in the long run. Keep reading to find out more about the cost of Biomass heating systems!

are biomass heating expensive

How Much Does Biomass Heating Cost to Run Day-to-Day

The average cost of running a biomass heater (logs) daily is about 4.2p/kWhr, which is equivalent to £1 daily for 24hrs for a 1KW boiler if it runs nonstop. For wood pellets and wood chips, it costs about 5.2 and 2.8p/kWh.

Installation Costs

On average,  the cost of installation is relatively low. You can expect to pay between £200-250 per day for installation which could last for 1-2 days, depending on the size and complexity of the biomass boiler. The cost is mostly determined by the technician and where the installation is taking place.

In most cases, the cost of installation is often included with the total cost of purchasing the Biomass boiler. This is because some vendors often offer after-sale services which include installing the Biomass boiler.

Fuel Costs

The cost of fuel is relatively cheap when compared to other heating systems (oil, gas) of the same heating capacity. Biomass fuels are usually in the form of Wood Pellets, Wood Chips, and Wood logs, all with varying costs.

Wood Pellets

These are the most expensive type of bio-fuels, this is because their production process is more complicated. They usually cost at least £250 per tonne, in which the cost of fuel could ultimately sum up to £625 annually.

Wood Chips

Wood Chips are the most economical type of Biomass. They cost about £45-70 per tonne. While they are not the most efficient, they are easily the cheapest of the bunch. On average, the annual total cost of using wood chips would only add up to £340.

Wood Logs

Wood Logs cost about £100 per tonne. They are also quite efficient since they pack at least half the energy density of wood pellets of the same mass. The total annual running cost of using wood logs will ultimately add up to £500.

Another added advantage of using wood logs is that you may be able to source your own fuel and ultimately heat your home for free/reduced cost.

Do Biomass Boilers Run all the Time?

Biomass boilers are designed to run all year round. This may be unnecessary as it would lead to unnecessary heating costs, especially during the summer. But during winter, these systems can be used non-stop as long as there is available fuel for them to run.

Since some households make use of biomass boilers to heat water, during summer, it would be advisable to make use of alternate power systems like solar. This would be more economical and efficient.

Repair and Maintenance cost of Biomass Heating Systems

Upon Installation of Biomass Heating systems, they should last up to 20 years, before they are due for replacement. But without proper maintenance that would not be possible.

Biomass systems do not really require much maintenance, but they should be ideally cleaned at least once a week to clear out the ash buildup. Before clearing out the ash, ensure the biomass heating system is switched off, for safety reasons.

Asides from the weekly clearing of ash, it is also advisable to employ the services of a technician to help inspect and service the biomass heating system. This should be done at least once every 12 months, to help preserve the efficiency of the system and prevent future breakdown while in operation.

The cost of servicing the boiler is usually dependent on the technician. It usually costs about £200 for small boilers and about £500 for larger boilers.

Can a Biomass Boiler Heat a Whole House?

Biomass Boilers can be used to heat a whole house. To achieve this, the biomass system is connected to central heating to help heat up the whole house. But before this, you have to ensure that the boiler is properly sized for your home.

You will need a qualified professional to help check out the heat requirement for your home so that the right size of the boiler can be installed. Installing a small boiler will only lead to cold spots around your home during operation and a larger one will only lead to fuel wastage.

When installing them, kindly ensure your home is well insulated, this is to ensure that the heat generated is not lost to the environment.

A quick method to estimate the size of the boiler required for your boiler is to calculate the volume of the space to be heated in cubic meters and divide it by 34 (for a reasonably insulated house). The output should tell you the required boiler size for that space in KW.

Is Biomass Cheaper than Alternatives?

Fuel TypeCost of Fuel (per tonne)KWhr per unit of Fuelp per kWhAverage Annual Costs(£)
Wood Chips£1003,500kWh/tonne2.8343
Wood Pellets£2504,800kWh/tonne5.2625
Natural GasN/A10kWh/m34.8576

From the table above, it is quite evident that Biomass is quite cheaper than its counterpart. Natural gas which also gotten from biomass is a welcome alternative since its price is annual cost is relatively low and is not subject to a hike in prices like oil and electricity.

While oil and electric boilers may have a lower initial cost, their running cost is not suitable in the long run. This is because, the current cost of their fuels is relatively high when compared to Biomass, and their future prices will still increase.

Has the Cost of Biomass Energy Risen alongside the Cost of Gas?

The price of Biomass energy has continued to stay put even with the increase in the price of gas. As the price of gas continues to increase in the future, biomass systems would be a more appealing option for homeowners. This is because biomass fuels are not affected by the rise in oil and gas. The cost of Biomass heating will not as expensive as other heaters in the future.

Renewable Heat Incentives for Biomass Heating Systems

The government offers Renewable Heat Incentives for Biomass heating systems as they look to ensure a net-zero carbon environment. This grant offered by the government will last for 7 years.

You will receive 6.48p/kWh from the RHI, and the amount you receive will be based on the heat demand on your Energy Performance Certificate. A typical home with a 20,000 kWh annual heat demand will get more than £1,200, or £8,750 over seven years. That is a substantial sum of money and will pay for the installation costs long before the boiler reaches the end of its useful life.


Biomass heating systems provide central heating and hot water for homes by burning biomass. Most people are actually put off by their initial cost which could range from £4,000-£20,000, as this is equivalent to 3-4 times the cost of conventional boilers.

In the long run, these systems end up paying for themselves as their running cost are relatively very low when compared to alternative heating systems like oil and gas. There are other incentives offered by the government that can help subsidize their costs

Biomass heating is expensive to certain people, but if you are looking at the long-term benefits and not fazed by the initial cost, then a biomass boiler is worth giving a shot at.