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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Pellet Stoves Offer Cleaner, More Convenient Heating

LAS CRUCES -- When it comes to wood-burning devices to heat your home, pellet stoves offer some advantages over standard stoves and fireplaces, said a New Mexico State University energy specialist.

"Pellet stoves use little pellets, typically made from sawdust and other plant wastes," said JoAnn Emmel,with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service. "The pellets look similar to little pieces of animal feed and are stored in bags, so it's a really clean way to buy wood."

Emmel said pellet stoves offer the following advantages:

*Pellet stoves burn hotter, more efficiently and completely than most wood-burning stoves, leaving behind less ash to carry out.

*Because they burn completely, pellet stoves are less polluting then wood-burning stoves or fireplaces. Also, flue gases burn cooler than in other types of wood burners, so less creosote forms in your pipes and stove. Also, because the gases are cooler, they don't require an elaborate exhaust system for ventilation.

*Many pellet stoves have automatic feeders. An auger automatically moves fuel into the stove as it needs it,so you don't have to get up in the middle of the night to restoke your stove.

Pellet stoves also have some disadvantages, which Emmel outlined as follows:

*Pellet stoves and the pellet fuel may be more expensive than other wood-burning options.

*Because pellet stoves are mechanically more complicated, there's a greater chance that something could go wrong. When the power goes out, the automatic feeders won't work.

*Some of these stoves may not be very stylish in their appearance, although newer models are looking less commercial and more attractive.