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Pellet burning stoves
Pellet burning stoves
Pellet burning stoves have emerged as a cleaner and more efficient alternative to wood burners.

They burn pellets of compacted sawdust, wood chips, nutshells, corn kernels and other biomass waste. These fuels are generally easier to handle and have higher combustion efficiencies than wood.

The Environmental Protection Agency considers pellet burners among the "cleanest-burning heating appliances available today" and exempts them from smoke-emission testing requirements.

They typically cost between $1,700 and $3,000 and are often cheaper to install than wood burning stoves since many are "direct-vented" and do not require a chimney.

Pellet fuel is usually sold in 40 pound bags and a household that relies exclusively on a pellet stove for heat normally goes through two to three tons a year. On average, pellet fuel costs between $120 and $200 a ton, according to the DOE.

But pellet burning appliances, unlike wood burning stoves, have fans and controls that consume electricity.

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Last updated August 22 2008: 11:56 AM ET
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