With the latest catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the true cost of fossil fuel has to come to mind. Such events have to be considered when selecting a home heating fuel source that is cost effective, efficient, non-polluting and renewable.
When does fossil fuel become too expensive and the option of an alternative renewable, clean-burning heating source have to be considered. The primary determining factor will more than likely remain economic. But in light of the current environmental and economic catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, factors such as the safety of those employed to produce the fuel source and the potential for environmental and economic impact must be weighed. Entire industries are in jeopardy in the gulf region due to the ongoing oil spill with no short-term resolution in site. It is going to take years for this region to recover.
Is it beneficial - overall - to rely on a fuel source that has the potential to destroy portions of the environment that will effect the long-term economy of entire regions? Especially when there are alternative domestic fuels that are safer, cleaner, and renewable?
In terms of heating fuel there is a great opportunity in biomass fuels. How effective can biomass fuels be? Take Sweden for example. In 2005, 39.8% of all the energy consumed in Sweden came from renewable sources - the EU average is 6%. Only 32% of their energy came from oil - down from 77% in 1970. The overall goal for Sweden is to be completely free from oil in 2020.
The existence of biomass fuels such as wood pellets combined with highly efficient pellet burning stoves offers us all a way of burning a very clean, lower cost and efficient fuel with little environmental impact. Wood pellet fuel is renewable, carbon neutral and is produced from wood waste from lumber mills which translates into a positive impact on the environment.
Environmentally friendly, domestically produced (creating jobs) and renewable? Why aren't we trying to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and move towards a biomass heating program here in the United States? We should be leading the world in this technology - not watching other countries move ahead of us.