When blankets and woolly socks just don’t cut it anymore during winter time, we switch on our carbon-emitting heaters. This is no good for our already disturbing carbon escalation, so alternatives we have to find,. Which is what we did this week when we discovered a new closed fire eco-heating stove by T and T Energy Solutions.
We went to see this clever device at the German Showroom in Cape Town to experience a creative use of waste wood. These eco-friendly heaters use natural wood-pellets, made from scrap wood from the furniture-manufacturing industry.
‘Instead of throwing that waste away it is compressed into thousands of little wood pellets, which look a little bit like rabbit food,’ says Thomas Thalhauser, who owns T and T with his wife Silvia (they’re the happy couple in the picture).
The pellets are held together without any glues, using only the natural lignin in the wood. They are absolutely CO2-neutral, which means they only give back to nature the same amount of CO2‚ they had absorbed while they were living trees.
‘That’s what they would have done anyway if they were to rot in nature,’ Thomas explains.
Intelligent heater keeps temperatures constant
The pellets are set alight by an ignition inside the heater, and even though the flames are visible through a glass plate, they aren’t open. Heat starts circulating through the room via shutters at the top and sides of the heater. In comparison with an open fireplace, the wood-pellet heaters are much more efficient.
‘With an open fireplace you get a big fire, but you lose 60-70% of that heat through the chimney. With the eco-heaters you lose only 10% through the chimney and retain 90% of the heat,’ Thomas says.
The eco-heaters are clean as well, no dust or pollution is set free inside the house. The wood-pellets give you only 1% ash.
‘In our eyes these heaters are perfect for South-African needs,’ Silvia Thalhauser, the co-owner of T and T says.
‘They provide you with quick and instant warmth on the spot.’
They are also programmable. You choose the temperature you prefer and the heater will keep it for the period of time you want it.
‘These heaters are intelligent. If the sun comes out and the room temperature increases, the heater will recognize that and slow down or finally switch off by itself, just to start again if the room temperature falls again.
‘You can programme the heater to start heating about 15 minutes before you get up in the morning so you’ll be welcomed by a warm and cozy room,’ Silvia explains.
‘The heater needs a little bit of electricity to run and to keep the temperature, but the heat is emitted by the burning the pellets. If you compare it to under floor heating for example, which is slow and very expensive, you’ll have a big advantage.’
Saving your pocket and earth simultaneously
The Thalhausers are connected to the German Showroom in Cape Town and have done a cost-saving evaluation for them. They used to heat the showroom with air-conditioning.
‘The saving is enormous,’ Thomas says, ‘it amounts to up to R130 per day! And we didn’t even include the cost-explosion of electricity for the next few years in that equation.’
The eco-heaters have been approved in Europe for decades and follow strict European requirements. They are certified under The Blue Angel (Der Blaue Engel), which is the highest European environmental certificate one can get.
‘You have to follow sustainability principles very strictly,’ says Thomas, ‘from manufacturing to running the product to disposal of the product. Even in processing that product you have to care about healthy conditions for your staff.’
The Thalhausers are very proud of this.
In the long term you’ll save a lot of money with the eco-heater and after about three years it will have paid for itself by eliminating electricity costs.
‘Most importantly, you contribute to the protection and survival of our environment and furthermore you’ll be and stay part of the future,’ Silvia says.