Heating Your Home With Biofuel: How Viable Is Biofuel As A Source?

Traditional heating fuels, including oil, gas and even electricity all have one thing in common -- they are all non-renewable. All are considered fossil fuels, which means they are produced using resources that take millions of years to regenerate. Once the sources for these fuels have been depleted, there's no way to reasonably make more, which could mean major changes for how people power machinery, power vehicles and heat their homes in the near future.

If you're looking to limit your reliance on non-renewable resources like fossil fuels, consider alternatives like bio-fuel, or bio-diesel. This Eco-friendly fuel allows you to heat your home using a traditional oil furnace, and some homeowners may even be able to cut fuel costs by making their own bio-diesel.

What is Bio-fuel?

Bio-fuel, or bio-diesel, is very similar to standard diesel fuel, except that it's made from renewable --rather than non-renewable -- resources. These sources could include plant sources, like soybeans or canola oil, or any type of animal fat, such as surplus cooking grease. Generally, the oil or greases are processed to remove water and pollutants, then mixed with alcohol and a catalyst. The resulting product must be processed again to separate out a by-product known as glycerin before the bio-diesel can be used for heat.

Bio-fuel and Home Heating

Bio-fuel is often blended with traditional diesel or heating oil before it is used in the home. If you want to use this fuel for home heating, you do not need to make any modifications to your existing oil furnace as long as you are using a blend that contains no more than 20 percent bio-fuel/bio-diesel. Once you go beyond this ratio, you'll need to contact a furnace contractor to modify your furnace to accept the fuel. These modifications allow the bio-diesel to flow properly when the weather is very cold to help prevent operating problems. 

Since bio-fuel can also be used to power a hot water heater, consider having a contractor install an oil-fired hot water heater to take full advantage of this fuel.

Cost Implications

Bio-fuel costs about the same as standard heating oil, but you may be able to save money thanks to special programs designed to encourage homeowners to use renewable resources. For example, New York State offers a tax credit of one cent per gallon for people who use bio-fuel for home heating.

You may be able to find additional tax credits, rebates and other incentives to help make bio-diesel even more affordable. You may also be able to make your own bio-diesel using agricultural waste or surplus grease from a local restaurant. To learn more, you need a go to website for more help and for professional answers to your questions.