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Woods with Fog

Why Wood Heat Should be Incentivized

E. Biomass Heating Reduces Foreign and Domestic Oil Dependency

In the average American household, 41% of the total energy used goes toward space heating. 1 Naturally, this portion is much higher in colder northerly regions. As a consequence, the choices that homeowners make about their heating habits will have substantial effects on their overall energy profile. Residential heating consists mainly of natural gas and electricity, but seven percent of US residential heating is from fuel oil. In parts of the country, especially the Northeast, the proportion of fuel oil use is higher. According to the 2009 EIA residential energy consumption survey, 42% of all homes in New England still use oil as their main source of heat.

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Figure 19: Energy used in the average American home (EIA) 2

According to the US Energy Administration, 57% of U.S. oil is imported from foreign countries. Importing and burning foreign oil negatively impacts our economy, national security and the environment. Oil contributes to the U.S trade deficit and is subject to major disruptions that cause price spikes, slowing economic recovery. The Center for American Progress has pointed out that the U.S. buys oil from governments that are considered “dangerous or unstable” by the State Department, including Algeria, Chad, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Additionally, burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming, which poses additional threats to national security. Because direct combustion provides a much more efficient energy pathway, wood used for home heating has a much higher capacity to reduce oil consumption than other uses of biomass, such as ethanol or power production.

1 EIA. Residential Energy Consumption Survey 2005.
2 EIA. Residential Energy Consumption Survey 2005.

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