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How to claim the $300 stove tax credit rating

Posted by Earth Stove on December 25, 2014 with No Commentsas , , , ,
President Obama signed into a law a package of tax credits including the one for wood and pellet stoves.  The stove credit is for $ 300 for stoves purchased between Jan. 1, 2014 and Dec. 31 2014, making it almost entirely a retroactive “incentive.”
To take the credit, taxpayers need to use IRS Form 5695. A biomass stove purchase would be claimed in line 22a of form 5695. The form can be confusing because it never specifies biomass heating equipment, even though its included in the tax break.  Taxpayers do not have submit receipts with their taxes.  They just have to keep the sales receipt and the declaration from the manufacturer stating the stove is eligible, in their records.
There is a $ 500 limit is a lifetime limit for all energy efficiency property, including insulation, doors,
windows or other wood or pellet stoves. So, if a taxpayer has claimed $ 300 in previous years, for example, they could only claim $ 200 on the 2014 taxes for a qualifying stove.

The tax credit can also apply to wood and pellet boilers.  For outdoor boilers, check this EPA list for efficiency levels. Of the 39 qualified outdoor wood and pellet boilers on the list, only 13 appear to qualify for the tax credit.  (Industry uses the European lower heating value (LHV) to qualify for the tax credit, but American HVAC products use the higher heating value (HHV).  The EPA list uses HHV values and anything on the EPA list that is under 68% efficiency HHV, is not likely to be 75% LHV. If a manufacturer, claims a unit on this list qualifies for the tax credit, but has no efficiency rating or is listed at 67% or lower, you may want to contact the EPA to confirm.)

Since this is almost entirely retroactive, stove retailers may want to contact customers from 2014 and notify them that they may now be eligible for the tax credit.  
The credit is available to qualifying stoves that are 75% efficient or greater.  Industry used a loophole so that virtually every EPA certified wood stove, and every pellet stove (certified and uncertified) qualifies as 75% efficient.  Stove manufacturers were allowed to self-certify their efficiency, using a variety of efficiency calculations and choosing whichever test came out highest.  For more on this topic, click here.
Other heating and cooling equipment had far stricter qualification standards to ensure that consumers got a tax credit for a genuinely more efficient appliance or item.  With pellet stoves especially, consumers could have bought a 55% efficient stove, but calculated their fuel savings at 75%, based on manufacturers assurances. Experts believe that 75% (LHV) may be about the average efficiency of a wood or pellet stove.  Despite claims from industry and many other source, pellet stoves are not necessarily any more efficient than wood stoves.  
Natural gas, propane, or oil furnace or hot water boiler with an annual fuel utilization (AFUE) rate of 95 or greater: $ 150
Split system air source heat pump that meets or exceeds 15 SEER/12.5 EER/8.5 HSPF: $ 300
Split system central air conditioner that meets or exceeds 16 SEER and 13 EER: $ 300
Natural gas, propane, or oil water heater which has either an energy factor of at least 0.82 or a thermal efficiency of at least 90 percent: $ 300
Electric heat pump water heater with an energy factor (EF) of at least 2.0: $ 300
The 2014 tax break cost taxpayers about $ 42 billion.  The tax credit for stoves alone is not likely to cost more than $ 50 million and that’s if a majority of people who bought stoves learn about the credit and take it on their tax return.
By re-enacting the extenders only for 2014, lawmakers have effectively forced themselves to consider the temporary breaks again next year and have opened the door to ending or refashioning some.  Experts say it is highly unlikely that the current batch of tax credits will be extended again in 2015, but some other legislation will be crafted that will selectively extend some, possibly permanently, but at least for multiple years.

While re-instating the tax credits helps many homeowners and businesses, simply extending them to the end of the year offers little certainty going forward for various clean energy sectors.  For the stove manufacturers, the tax credit can give a small boost to sales but the production tax credits for the wind  industry can be vital to whether large scale projects move forward or not. 

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20 Beautiful Wood Fired Hot Tubs from All around the Planet

Posted by Earth Stove on December 20, 2014 with No Commentsas , , , , , ,
Wood fired baths are an historic tradition, relationship again at minimum to Roman instances when baths known as hypocausts had been built by working sizzling flue gases below a stone tub. &nbspThose Roman tubs have been also off the grid, as are these. &nbspSome are quirky, some passionate, some sensible and some just downright hedonistic. &nbspWhich is your favored?
See our other picture essays: Wooden Stoves from Close to the Globe, and and Firewood Assortment and Stacking from about the entire world.&nbsp

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Outdated-timey wooden stoves want to get new-timey if we really want to make use of them

Posted by Earth Stove on December 9, 2014 with No Commentsas , , , , , ,

Monday, December 8, 2014
Nashua Telegraph
by David Brooks

Tom Butcher from Brookhaven Lab,
second from right, tests an automated
stove from New Zealand. Ben Myren,
left, did R&D work on it.

I don’t think very hard when I light up the old wood-burning stove in my basement. Turns out, that might be a problem.

“Combustion technology is incredibly complex. Numerous chemical engineers, combustion engineers, mechanical engineers around the world are constantly trying to understand the intricacies associated with combustion. It is absolutely not what you and I would think – just light a match … especially when you want to get clean combustion and use wood efficiently,” said Rob Rizzo, manager of the Renewable Thermal Program for the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources.

Rizzo was among the organizers of the 2014 Stove Design Workshop held in November at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, the latest in a number of attempts to add some high-tech wizardry to that staple of New England life, the wood stove. (For details, see forgreenheat.blogspot.com/2014/11/rookie-wood-stove-makers-get-highest.html)

Why tinker with something as well-established as wood stoves?

Because, like me, most people don’t think too hard when using them, which makes them inefficient and polluting.

We use green wood or wet wood, and we fiddle with the damper in the wrong way, causing partial combustion and thus more pollution.

The Stove Design Workshop, like a national Stove Design Challenge in 2013 that featured two New Hampshire entries, wants to find technology that can better cope with our stupidity.

The five finalists in the design workshop used a variety of techniques to work around people, including oxygen sensors that control fuel-to-air ratio, a common emission-control technique in cars, and a New Zealand stove that has a “barometrically operated variable choke venturi tube” to control the amount of combustion air entering a stove, particularly at lower burn rates.

“The whole concept with the design challenge is to come up with solid-wood stove that eliminates the human interface. Basically hit a start button and walk away; that is the concept we’re aiming at,” he said.

This already happens with pellet stoves, of course, which is why pellets has led a wood-burning renaissance for building heat.

The drawback is that they burn pellets made of compressed sawdust rather than the wood I can snag for free off my property, especially after the Thanksgiving snowstorm knocked down so many big limbs.

The lure of free fuel means that a lot of people still burn non-pelletized wood for some or all of their heat, although it’s not clear how many.

I have never been able to find good data about people who use cordwood (a.k.a. “roundwood”) as their principal heat source, partly because it’s hard to pin down. I, for example, use it only as a minor supplement of the pellet stove in the living room and our oil-fired furnace.

Rizzo said he didn’t know any data either, but he said that wood stoves remain important, especially in western Massachusetts.

Just as important as convenience is cleanliness. Wood stoves can produce a lot of pollution, particularly fine-particle soot, that is a health hazard. This is particularly a problem around Keene, which has a lot of wood-burning stoves and a geography that traps air in certain weather conditions.

New Hampshire has used rebates to get people to turn in their old stoves for cleaner versions, although with limited success.

But those cleaner stoves aren’t all that great; they’re little more than old stoves with catalytic converters in the stovepipe. Hence the push to build a better mousetrap, so to speak.

“It’s exciting to see new ideas coming forward. We have some educated guesses but we need to do better,” Rizzo said.

“We need to collect more data, about efficiency, emissions, consumption volumes, and also source of wood, sustainability of wood source, quality of wood source. Because rural America is always going to be burning round wood.”

More info:

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