Wood energy for residential heating in Alaska: current conditions, attitudes, and expected use
This US Forest Service study considered three aspects of residential wood energy use in Alaska: current conditions and fuel consumption, knowledge and attitudes, and future use and conditions. We found that heating oil was the primary fuel for home heating in southeast and interior Alaska, whereas natural gas was used most often in south-central Alaska (Anchorage). Firewood heating played a much more important role as a secondary (vs. primary) heating source in all regions of Alaska. In interior Alaska, there was a somewhat greater interest in the use of wood energy compared to other regions. Likewise, consumption of fossil fuels was considerably greater in interior Alaska. Cost was a primary factor influencing motivation to convert to wood energy. Most respondents were at least somewhat familiar with residential wood-burning systems, however relatively few were familiar with Environmental Protection Agency certified woodstoves. Firewood/cordwood was by far the preferred wood fuel choice, whereas wood briquettes were least preferred. Similarly, firewood was the type of wood fuel that respondents were most familiar with. Variations were observed between Alaska’s primary regions (southeast, south-central, and interior). This could be attributed to a number of factors including colder climates in interior Alaska, and overall low use of wood energy in south-central Alaska because of preferences for natural gas. Fuel oil prices of $4.00 to $5.00 per gallon would be needed for most homeowners to convert to wood heating. There was a broad range of willingness to pay for new wood energy systems (from about $1,000 to $3,000). However, this survey was not random and results may not be representative of the populations at each sampling location.