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NYSERDA promoting program for high-efficiency wood burning heat systems

U.S. Department of Agriculture

As the home heating season approaches, the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency, or NYSERDA, is pushing a program that offers incentives for heating homes with wood pellets and cordwood, and using the latest high-efficiency, low-emission wood heating systems.

New York state started the Renewable Heat New York program in July. The $27 million initiative promotes the highest efficiency wood burning technologies in the country.

Boosters, like NYSERDA's Mark Watson, say these technologies cut back on the use of fossil fuels, produce less pollution and increase sustainable forestry, compared to other heating methods.

“We have technologies now that have greatly reduced emissions, and significantly increased the performance of the systems, the energy efficiency of the systems," Watson said. "So the systems of today don’t resemble the old outdoor wood boilers that we’re familiar with, that were highly polluting.”

Watson says right now the state is in the midst of training workers who could install these high-tech pellet and cordwood burning systems, so now it’s time to sell the idea. He says it could be a challenge to get some people used to the new technology.

“People are used to using the tried and true, old equipment," Watson explained. "And I think we have an opportunity to get some of this new equipment out there, through the Renewable Heat Program in New York state.”

Watson also admits that it might look expensive for the average homeowner at first.

"Your probably looking at $18,000 to $20,000," Watson said. "But you’re saving a significant amount of money on your fuel costs, and the incentives that we have available through Renewable New York will typically pay about 20 percent of that cost.”

Watson says homeowners and businesses would get their investment back in this technology between five and 12 years through energy savings.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.