Micro-combined heat and power (MCHP or Micro-CHP) or co-generation systems have long been employed by larger buildings and businesses to create both heat and electricity from a single fuel source. Now the MCHP, which has been rapidly expanding in Europe and Japan, is now available in the U.S. The freewatt™ Micro-CHP system  uses natural gas to create 1.2 kilowatts of energy while also heating water for a radiator or based board heating system.

While the units usually provide only about 75% of a home’s hot water heating requirements, when paired with a good wood stove, the savings can be substantial in the winter. The co-generation unit can also function as a stand-alone generator when utility power goes out.  Savings of about $500 in annual heating costs, plus reduction in electricity draw from the utility, can make this a useful option.