At trade shows, Dennis Charbonneau and his wife Elizabeth Eso have been asked if they’re selling mini crematoriums or heated outhouses.
The Central Boilers they sell look a bit like backyard sheds and are built to burn wood outside to heat houses, shops, greenhouses or even hot tubs.
Charbonneau, who owns Yesterday Mechanical Ltd. in the industrial park in Sylvan Lake, said the wood boilers appeal to people who have a lot of wood on their property and can supply the boilers’ needs without any cost to their pocket book.
The boilers can also switch over to natural gas and propane so that if someone is away they don’t have to be concerned about the wood boiler being filled with wood.
The newest model the couple is selling is known as the E-CLASSIC. The boiler has been specifically designed to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s clean air regulation emission limits for 2010.
Charbonneau said there is no net gain of carbon dioxide because whether the wood rots in the woods or burns in the boiler, it is the same thing.
“If they want to burn wood, this is the best way to do it because it’s outside. You’ve got all of the upside of burning wood without the downside — chimney fires, health issues with air quality, having to paint your house every few years because of the smoke and the particulates in the air,” he said. He said the boiler can be placed a couple hundred metres from a home.
Eso said wood is a renewable and sustainable resource.
“It’s a lifestyle thing,” Eso said. “If you don’t mind going out and cutting some wood. People are interested in taking more control of their lives.”
By burning wood, she said it also means that people aren’t worried about the meter ticking away and what their gas bill will cost.
“When you’re throwing in your own wood, you’ve got that sense that you want to be comfortable and you can be comfortable,” Eso said.
The E-CLASSIC is 30 per cent more efficient than their past models and the E-CLASSIC and their other wood boilers are eligible for the home renovation tax credit offered by the federal government.
A 500,000 BTU wood boiler costs around $13,000, plus $3,000 for installation. But Charbonneau said people save around $3,000 a year on heating costs — meaning the wood boiler pays for itself in five years. “It has to be viewed as an investment that pays dividends,” Charbonneau said.