Pro-wood heat group opposes more time to sell dirtier stoves

On November 21, 2018, the EPA announced it was taking comment on a 2-year sell-through provision for wood stoves and on other issues in the 2015 wood heater regulation. The Alliance for Green only submitted comments on the 2-year sell-through that would allow manufacturers to build and sell Step 1 wood and pellet stoves that emit up to 4.5 grams an hour and retailers to see them until June 15, 2022.  All stakeholder comments will be available to the public by going to and typing in EPA-HQ-OAR-2018-0196. 

Comments of the Alliance for Green Heat
Responding to

The United States Environmental Protection Agency
Comments on the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking; Standards of Performance for New Residential Wood Heaters, New Residential Hydronic Heaters and Forced-Air Furnaces

Docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2018-0196

Feb. 13, 2018

The Alliance for Green Heat (AGH) offers the following comments on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM),Standards of Performance for New Residential Wood Heaters, New Residential Hydronic Heaters and Forced-Air Furnaces, published at 83 Fed. Reg. 61,585 (Nov. 30, 2018). 

AGH is a national, non-partisan, non-profit association that promotes advances in wood stove technology to ensure that wood and pellet stoves become steadily cleaner and more efficient.  AGH has held four Stove Design Challenges to highlight the potential of innovative design in wood and pellet stoves and to educate policymakers and consumers.

AGH opposes any proposal to provide “sell-through” periods or to extend other compliance deadlines when there are sufficient products available that comply with EPA’s applicable standards.  Achievable emission regulations, such as EPA’s NSPS for New Residential Wood Heaters, New Residential Hydronic Heaters and Forced-Air Furnaces, are based on levels that manufacturers can meet through the use of technology that has been adequately demonstrated for the source category. These standards, that recognize such demonstrated technologies, are vital to driving the innovation process that encourages more manufacturers to develop and manufacture cleaner and more efficient stoves.  

1.    There is no technical or legal justification to change the timeline for Step 2 compliance

EPA fails to provide any compelling technical or legal basis to justify aproposed sell-through for wood stoves.  The assertion that some manufacturers and retailers would financially benefit from a delay or sell-through is not consistent with the mandates of section 111.                                                                                                                                      
Section 111(a)(1) of the Clean Air Act defines “standard of performance” as  “a standard for emissions of air pollutants which reflects the degree of emission limitation achievable through the application of the best system of emission reduction . . . .”  42 U.S.C. § 7411(a)(1) (2013) (emphasis added).  The proposal in the ANPRM to revise the applicable deadlines does not explain why such an approach would be consistent with the requirements in section 111.  Moreover, when developing the NSPS in 2015, EPA already took into account the cost of achieving the applicable standards as well as the available technology, which is why the Agency provided 5 years for the implementation of the Step 2 standards. The ANPRM fails to state how a sell-though is consistent with the requirements in section 111 and presents no other legal justification. 
2.    The 5-year timeline in the 2015 NSPS was sufficient

The 5-year timeline provided in the 2015 NSPS was sufficient for achieving the environmental and innovation goals of the NSPS while providing flexibility to industry.  AGH supports the timelines outlined in the 2015 NSPS that allows industry flexibility during the period between 2015 and the 5 years following.  Indeed, at the time these deadlines were promulgated, industry and EPA agreed that these time frames were sufficient for industry to transition to cleaner stoves.  Unfortunately, given the information in the record for this ANPRM, it appears that industry has been spending more resources on obtaining time extensions from Congress, the Executive Branch, and the courts than devoting such financial support to research and development (R&D) and testing.  

3.    A sell-through is not justified to protect non-catalytic stoves

Apparent from the docket for this rulemaking, a form letter comments for retailers made it easier for this market segment to comment on the need for a stove sell-through.  Much of that letter made the case that the range of choice of non-catalytic stoves for consumers would diminish.  The letters noted that, while “traditional catalytic wood heaters on the market today might meet the Step 2 requirements” in the lab, the stoves on the market may not meet the requirements “over a lifetime of realworld, in-home use.” The letter went on the express confidence that “[n]ew technologies will emerge as the result of regulation with technology that will surpass Step 2 emission limits while maintaining the ease of operation that consumers demand through the lifecycle of the stove.”

This assertion in the form comment letter has simply not played out in the market.  AGH notes that 27 models of non-catalytic stoves had achieved 2020 compliance as of October 2018, and that number will likely rise when the EPA next updates the list of certified wood stoves.  While the ratio of catalytic to non-catalytic models of stoves will rise, AGH believes it is premature to artificially protect the market for non-catalytic stoves by extending a sell-through to all classes of stoves, including pellet stoves.

AGH also highlights the rise of “hybrid stoves,” stoves that use both catalytic and non-catalytic technology to reduce particulates.  These stoves offer more options to homeowners to reduce particulates, options neither catalytic nor non-catalytic stoves can fully provide on their own.

         4.    Insufficient cost data on Step 2 stoves

While we are likely to see a small rise in the price of many stoves as a result of Step 2 compliance, there is a noticeable lack of data supporting such a conclusion.  The consolidation of models may help manufacturers sell more of each model, which is likely to help keep impacts on the price of stoves to a minimum.  Some stove prices may decrease or remain the same, as we saw when some uncertified stoves were required to become certified in 2015.  Prices of stoves are likely to be equally, if not more greatly, impacted in a positive way by improved automation processes, and in a negative way by tariffs and prices of steel. 

    5.    Insufficient data on the assertion that consumers will hold off buying new stoves

There is very little data about the proportion of consumers buying a wood or pellet stove for the first time, as compared to those who are replacing an older stove.  And often families switch from wood to pellet stoves, or vice versa.  First time stove buyers and those who will buy a stove anyway, may be far more numerous than those who would have bought a new stove if it were $ 100 cheaper. Trends show that extremely affordable stoves are still available at big box stores, including some Step 2 models. What may be more likely to occur is that more consumers will buy the more affordable stoves from big box stores instead of specialty hearth stores. There also are a growing number of certified stoves on the second-hand marketplace; these stoves still offer a better alternative than even older, uncertified stoves.   We hope that this comment process results in more data about the assertion that a sizable population of consumers will hold on to older stoves.  

6.    2018 was a great year for stove sales

Industry argues that manufacturers do not have the resources to undertake the certification process for Step 2 stoves, and that retailers cannot financially weather the transition.  Wood stove and especially pellet stove sales are significantly influenced by cold winters, the state of the economy and other factors which can be more significant than this NSPS. However, we note that industry – both manufacturers, retailers and chimney sweeps — have just experienced a very successful year.   A successful 2018 is helping to propel industry in the final leg leading up to 2020.  

Hearth & Home magazine routinely interviews retailers about the state of their businesses.  Only one retailer in the February 2019 issue mentioned maintaining an inventory of Step 1 products, and the retailer did not express concern regarding the business climate. The majority of retailers sell hearth, patio and barbecue products, and often the retailers express viewpoints regarding all three sectors. These magazine interviews also show that retailers have increasingly diversified products.  We reproduced all the specific comments about stoves in the February 2019 issue of Hearth & Home.  Reproduced below are retailer comments from pages 68 – 70 of the magazine. To protect the identity of the retailer, the magazine only quotes identify the state in which the retailer resides rather than the name of the retailer.

Arkansas: “2018 turned out to be a good year overall.”

California: “We have been in business for 33 years and this was the best year yet.”

California: “Hearth department was up 8%.”

Connecticut: “This was one of our top Decembers since we’ve been in business; 2019 looks to be a great year, even though we had a very good 2018.”

Illinois: “Woodburning is slowly fading away, even in a rural wooded area like ours.”

Louisiana: “Our service business is up 67%.”

Nebraska: “Hearth sales were stagnant from 2017.  All in all, business was good, but we’re interested in seeing where the trade war steel prices go, along with tariff surcharges.”

New Jersey: “Another year has flown by.  Solid growth once again.”

Oregon: “We opened a new hearth showroom in fall of 2018.”

Pennsylvania: “Best calendar year in the last five years.  Also, very profitable.”

Virginia: “Wow, what a year!  I’ve worked here for 27 years and have never seen it this busy.  Thanks President Trump.  Business is a boomin’.  Can’t wait for this coming season.  Woo-hoo. $ $ $ .”

Virginia: “2018 ended with record sales and installations of vent-free gas fireplaces, log sets and inserts.”

Wisconsin: “No slowing down in sales of high-end fireplaces, wood and gas.  Wow, what a time in our industry.”

Wisconsin: “Overall year-end we were way up.  Wood seems to be really strong.”

Wisconsin: “Busy year.  Easily could have had greater sales if we could find another good employee.  We have had some warranty issues and manufacturers did not stand behind their product.”

Wisconsin: “Wood and gas fireplaces are strong.  Plain steel wood stoves is a weak spot.  We’re clearing inventory of all non-2020 compliant wood stoves.  Will restock only 2020 compliant.”

7.    The number of stove models will temporarily shrink

While the number of different stove models will temporarily shrink due to the increased stringency of the standards, not all consumers will notice because there will continue to be a variety of products on the market.  Many manufactures are getting around any perceived limitation of products by certifying one firebox, then offering it in a variety of models –  such as with a pedestal, with legs, or even as an insert.   More manufacturers are beginning to offer a variety of stove models, so the standards’ impact on consumers will decrease even further.

8.    There is minimal public support for sell-throughs 

In 2014, EPA received 1,750 Comments in response to proposals that set 2020 as the deadline for Step 2 compliance.  Just 5 years later, the process led by the current administration’s EPA generated only 75 comments for the sell-through for furnaces and boilers, including comments from less than 10 individual citizens.  In addition, there is no state, county or city that supports providing a sell-through for what constitutes the dirtiest appliance class among wood heaters.  Clearly, the populations that are most greatly impacted by such a sell-through, recognize that this deregulatory action increases pollution far more than the financial benefit for manufacturers.
AGH appreciates the opportunity to submit these comments. If there are any questions regarding any statements above, please contact John Ackerly at 301-204-9562.
Heated Up!

Non-cats cleaner than catalytic or pellet stoves in new certifications

In the most recent updated list of EPA certified stoves, 17 more units became 2020 compliant, meeting the 2020 EPA regulations of emitting no more than 2 grams an hour.  While it is not a large sample size, among this batch of newly certified units,  the non-catalytic stoves averaged 1.2 grams an hour, whereas catalytic stove averaged 1.3 and pellet stoves averaged 1.4.  It is not yet clear if the non-catalytic stove designers used new innovative technology or just fine-tuned existing strategies to reduce particulate matter.
Of the 17 newly certified stoves,
non-catalytic models are the cleanest
Many industry experts have argued that the 2020 emission standard of 2 grams an hour favors catalytic and pellet stoves.  But we are seeing some non-cats come in below 1 gram an hour, including 2 of the 5 in this recently certified batch.  Many of the 2020 compliant non-cats do fall in the 1.5 to 2 gram range.  And every once in a while, a stove goes into the lab and doesn’t quite meet the 2.0 gram standard, like a IHP stove that recently came out certified at 2.1 grams.  Assuming this unit was not tested with cordwood (which are allowed up to 2.5 grams per hour), this means that the model can only remain on the market in the US for less than 18 months until May 2020, unless the EPA were to approve a sell-through.

The average efficiencies show a less surprising trend: the 13 newly certified non-catalytic and pellet stoves had the same average efficiency – 69%.  The four catalytic stoves, including one hybrid, had an average of 77% efficiency.  These efficiency numbers are typical of averages of all stoves on the market. Pellet stoves have long had the reputation of being a more efficient technology, but over the last several years, as manufacturers were required to disclose efficiencies,  we saw that pellet stoves had a far greater range on the low and high end, with the average being about the same as non-cats.  Even among this small sample, pellet stoves had the lowest efficiency unit (at 60%) made by Sherwood Industries.  Sherwood also made the highest efficiency pellet stove in this newly certified batch – at 77%.
Efficiency could be a more important metric if Congress re-instates the tax credit for residential wood heaters.  That credit was worth $ 300 but expired in December 2017.  Stoves needed to be 75% efficient to qualify for the tax credit, but manufacturers were allowed to claim eligibility without disclosing their real efficiency, allowing virtually all stoves to qualify.  The practice of exaggerating efficiencies and misleading consumers got to the point that even the industry association, the Hearth Patio & Barbecue Association, changed course in 2018 and recommended that only publicly disclosed efficiencies on the EPA list of stoves be used in the future to determine eligibility.  If the credit is reinstated, there is a chance that the eligibility number could be reduced to 73%, in part to help more non-catalytic stoves qualify.
Carbon monoxide

The other metric that test labs are now required to report is carbon monoxide, another very important test of cleanliness, along with particulate matter.  By far the cleanest technology in terms of CO is the pellet stove. The pellet stoves in this small batch had an average of 0.42. grams an hour of CO, the catalytic had 0.63 grams and non-catalytic stoves had 1.2 grams – almost double the CO of non-cats and triple that of pellet stoves.

A stove’s ability to burn off carbon monoxide often tracks its ability to burn off particulate matter.  Of the pellet stoves, the three with the lowest CO also had a lower average PM (1.2 grams an hour), and the three with higher CO had a higher average PM (1.5 grams an hour).  
Overall progress towards 2020

There are 533 stove models on the latest list of EPA certified stoves that are currently in production.  Many of those units will never be changed to become 2020 compliant and many are already not being produced any more.  Industry experts say that the number of stove models will contract as we get closer to 2020, likely in the range of 300 – 400 models.  As of February 2019, 119 models are 2020 compliant.  (The number of 2020 compliant models is consistently under-reported due to delays in processing and notification.)  Many manufacturers may also have completed their R&D and/or their testing but have not submitted the data to the EPA. 
Most stove manufacturers have at least a third to half of their models 2020 certified – including larger brands such as American Energy Systems, Blaze King, Even Temp, Fireplace Products International, Hearthstone, Pacific Energy, Rais, Ravelli, RSF/ICC, Sherwood Industries, Stuv, Travis and Woodstock Soapstone.
However, the two largest value stove manufacturers in the US market – US Stove and Englander – only have pellet stoves certified and still do not have any 2020 compliant wood stoves.   They sell to big box stores, which buy even earlier than specialty retailers.  It is still too early to tell if big box stores will replace Englander and US Stove models with models from other manufacturers, likely at higher prices.  Some in industry hope that the 2020 emission standards will help specialty heath stores regain some of the market share they had lost to the big box stores over the past decade.  

Heated Up!

Excerpts of comments from the Advance notice of proposed rulemaking

The Alliance for Green Heat did an analysis of stakeholder positions which can be found here and also pulled out these excerpts for those who do not want to download and wade through hundreds of pages of comments, much of it repetitive.

The following excepts are what we view as key positions taken by stakeholders in the Advance response to the EPA’s request for comments on a range of issues, including:

·      compliance date for the Step 2 emission limits, 
·      Step 2 emission limits for forced-air furnaces, hydronic heaters and wood heaters, 
·      Step 2 emission limits based on weighted averages versus individual burn rates, 
·      transitioning to cord wood certification test methods,
·      compliance audit testing, 
·      third-party review, 
·      electronic reporting tool, and 
·      warranty requirements

We have taken key excerpts from all sides of the debate to highlight differences, The full comments can be found here.   Many other comments can be found in response to the EPA’s request for comments of the Proposed Ruleto give a sell-through for boilers and furnaces.  We only excerpted language for comments to the advance notice of proposed rulemaking, which elicited a far wider range of responses.

Excerpts are organized by: State Agencies, Industry, Retailers, Air Agencies, Federal Office and Non-profits. 


The Attorneys General of New York, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts,

Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington and the Puget Sound Air Quality Agency 

The step two compliance date is feasible and necessary to protect public health. Any delay in the implementation of the step two standards would have significant adverse public health consequences. Moreover, EPA has not provided any basis to change its previous determination that five years was an adequate amount of time for manufacturers to develop cleaner burning devices. 
·     The step two standards for wood boilers and forced-air furnaces are also feasible. 
·     Finally, the evidence shows that the 2.0 g/hr. emission limit is already too lax. In 2014, EPA proposed to set a limit of 1.3 g/hr, which the Attorneys General of New York, Maryland, and Massachusetts supported based on demonstrated cost effective design technologies that could reduce emissions. 

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)
Albany, NY 

1.     The 2015 New Source Performance Standards for wood stoveshydronic heaters, forced air furnaces (40 CFR 60 Subparts AAA and QQQQ) should not be reopened. Any changes to the rule (see items 23 below) should be addressed during the first review period for these rules in 2023. 
2.     The Environmental Protection Agency should adopt the Integrated Duty-Cycle (IDC) Test Methods under development by Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management prior to the 2023 rule reviews. 
3.     The 2023 rule reviews should lead to PM emission standards based on performance data generated using the IDC Test Method
4.     EPA should ensure that third-party certification reviews are not conducted by the laboratories conducting the certification tests

In the event that EPA weakens the 2015 NSPS rulesit is likely that several states, including New York, may consider backstop regulations to bring the NSPS provisions back into effect, potentially resulting in a patchwork set of state regulations that may increase compliance costs to manufacturers. 

Western Governors Association
Denver, CO

The emissions from wood heaters represent a critical public health and environmental issue in the West. Since the 1980s, states have implemented regulatory and voluntary strategies to address these emissions. The efficacy of such strategies depends on an effective NSPS.
The Western State Air Resources Council (WESTAR) requested that EPA extend the comment periods for the NPRM and ANPRM for an additional 45 days to provide sufficient time for state regulators to fully evaluate these proposals. WESTAR also requested that EPA hold a second public hearing in the West, as the only hearing on these proposals was held in Washington, D.C., with a minimal two-week notice. EPA summarily denied these requests, hampering the cooperative federalism that this Administration has made a priority.
Western Governors request that EPA maintain the current NSPS compliance deadlines for new residential wood heaters. 

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Salem, OR

Oregon communities depend on the NSPS and particularly the 2015 NSPS for residential wood heaters to complement our efforts to attain the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for PM2.5 to protect community health and environmental quality. Since wood heaters are not manufactured in Oregon, any public health costs associated with EPNs proposed rules in the NPRM or this ANPRM are disproportionately accrued to Oregon. 
Cordwood test methods

ODEQ is concerned that this language [in the ASTM 2515 cordwood test method]  allows manufacturer instructions to change almost any aspect of the emissions test method, without the requirement, such as fuel species or loading, to include these changes in the test report or the owner’s manual. 

This language is highly problematic and opens up the test to significant modifications that impact emissions measured during the test. The manufacturer should not be provided the discretion to determine what information is provided to owners or regulators regarding test results. 

Considering the test method research described above, EPA should build upon this multiyear effort by adopt a requirement now, to take immediate effect, for the concurrent use of a tapered element oscillating microbalance (TEOM) test method to measure real-time particulate matter (PM), using the NESCAUM Standard Operating Procedures, along with standard filter measurements for all EPA residential wood heating device NSPS certification testing, including pre-burn activities. For all testing, a complete real-time emission profile should be submitted as part of the non-confidential business information (CBI) portion of the test report.

EPA compliance audit testing
With respect to the selection of the lab to perform audit testing, one independent, third-party lab should be selected to conduct all compliance audit testing so that there is consistency across the program. The audit testing lab must not be allowed to complete certification testing for devices that it is auditing to ensure that the audit process is unbiased. 

With respect to variability in the compliance audit testing program, wood stoves that certify at less than 1 gram per hour (g/hr) should be allowed a variability of ± 1 g/hr. For units that certify at more than 1 g/hr, the current variability provision is adequate. 

Warranty requirements

EPA seeks comment on retention, revision or elimination of the warranty requirements included in the 2015 NSPS Rule. DEQ supports the retention of the warranty requirements for catalytic devices. For non-catalytic devices, EPA should add warranty requirements, particularly ones for key components related to controlling emissions from the device (including, among others, tubes). 

Mass. Dept. of Environmental Protection
Boston, MA

In summary, MassDEP opposes any delay or weakening of the existing Step 2 emission limits, which would defer needed reductions in air pollutants that adversely affect the health of Massachusetts citizens. The existing NSPS has resulted in manufacturers developing cleaner wood burning devices that are achieving real emission reductions, and it is critical that the NSPS be fully implemented according to the schedule in the 2015 rule. MassDEP supports the development of new test methods that better reflect real world operations of wood heating devices, which should be included in the next update of the NSPS in 2023. 

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources,
Madison, WI

EPA should therefore recognize that modifying the Step 2 limits or adjusting the Step 2 compliance date for wood heaters would disadvantage manufacturers who already completed the Step 2 certification process to comply with EPA’s original deadline. 


Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association
Arlington, VA
Test methods

Since 2009, HPBA has led efforts to move from crib wood testing to cordwood testing for all residential wood heating product categories, and we continue to support that transition. 


HPBA believes that a two-year sell-through period is critical to the health of the hearth products industry for —wood stoves, pellet stoves, hydronic heaters, and forced-air furnaces. 

Revising the current standards to provide a two-year sell-through period (from May 2020 to May 2022) for Step 1 stoves, roughly three-quarters of which are well under the 4.5 g/hr emission limit, would have a relatively miniscule environmental impact. 

Central heaters

EPA cannot remedy the errors in the Step 2 emission limits for central heaters by extending the compliance dates for central heaters. EPA should repeal those standards altogether. 
The Step 2 limit for forced-air furnaces was not based on any data. 

The Step 2 emission limit for hydronic heaters is not achievable at reasonable costs. 

Weighted Averages vs. Individual Burn Rates 

Compliance with all emission limits should be on a weighted average basis. Manufacturers often focus on performance at more heavily weighted burn rates. 

Compliance audit testing

EPA should limit audit testing to instances where there is suspected fraud in certification test results. Alternatively, EPA should add language to the regulations that prohibits audit testing for appliance categories until there has been a determination on variability for the applicable test. 

ISO-Accredited Third-Party Review 

EPA should rely on ISO-accredited third-party certification bodies to issue certificates of compliance rather than continue to issue every final certification application itself. This would allow EPA to focus its limited resources on performing oversight and enforcement functions. 

US Stove
South Pittsburg, TN 

Transition from Crib Wood to Cord Wood Testing 

USSC is fully supportive of working towards a cordwood test method that better represents real world use of residential wood heaters. Our company was actively involved in the ASTM standards development process for ASTM E3053 

As of today, there are companies testing and certifying stoves under this cordwood alternative, however hindsight is not a rulemaking mechanism that the EPA can or should use to regulate industry. The “limit” had already been set at 2.5 g/h before a test method even existed, and thus the EPA has artificially put its thumb on the scale. The only test reports that the EPA is going to see are those manufacturers who have been lucky enough to meet the 2.5 g/h limit. That is not how standards should be set. 

Feasibility of  the 2020 timeline

The EPA has stated it has given 5 years to meet the Step 2 2020 requirements. Although that may be true when looking at the actual dates, we, nor our industry as a whole, have not been given those 5 years to meet these requirements.  The 5 years that the EPA intended, effectively moved to 3.5 years in the eyes of the wood heater marketplace. 

At USSC we analogize the 2015 rule for residential wood heaters to the feat of climbing Mt. Everest, you have to strategically take one step at a time. 

It is our opinion that EPA also did not consider the reduced revenue which has occurred because of the lack of sell-through. Therefore, we have not benefited from 5 years of revenue required to fund the work necessary to meet the 2020 deadline. 

Forced air furnaces

The Step 2 requirements for forced-air furnaces as stated in the 2015 NSPS should be repealed; Step 1 standards for forced-air furnaces should be revisited at a future date to determine whether more stringent standards would be appropriate. There was no justification or data on the EPA’s part to warrant the Step 2 requirements. As we have stated above, the economic feasibility in the marketplace of a Step 2 compliant forced-air furnace is impractical given today’s technology. To move from a previously unregulated product (with no voluntary program) to Step 1 where these products are approximately 75% cleaner, and then in just 3 or 4 years later (small vs large forced air furnaces) move to approximately 97% cleaner (EPA estimates) at Step 2, without any data to justify a Step 2 limit, is preposterous and unrealistic.
Hearth & Home Technologies
Lakeville, MN

Test Methods – Transition to Cordwood

HHT strongly supports moving to a cord wood standard as it better aligns with the fuel type used in the real world, but manufacturers have invested millions of dollars designing, testing and certifying to Step 2 crib wood standards and will need additional selling time to recoup their investment to fund future cord wood designs. 

HHT recommends using ASTM E3053 until such time there is data showing that the ASTM method doesn’t replicate real-world cord wood emissions or that a new Federal Reference Method is needed. 

Step 2 Emission Limit for Wood Heaters 

The wood stove and pellet stove users tend to be very different people. With respect to different emissions standards, we believe this is a secondary issue to the EPA first understanding the precision and repeatability of the different fuels before making any more changes to emissions standards. 

The EPA Compliance Audit Testing 

It is not appropriate for the EPA to select a lab to perform audit testing. With so much variability, it makes more sense to keep compliance audit testing with the same lab.

ISO-accredited Third-party Review 

The only way to streamline the process would be to allow accredited third-party laboratories to do the emissions testing and grant the certificate of compliance. Having the EPA review the application and test report, which can take as long as 90 business days/16weeks to complete, is not a good use of time and resources. Instead, they should rely on their ISO-accredited third-party laboratories to issue certificates and the EPA retain oversight and enforcement with the laboratories. 

Warranty Requirements for Certified Appliances 

We would support eliminating the warranty requirements of the NSPS. All manufacturers already have warranty language that if the appliance is not installed and operated according to the installation/owner’s manual, the warranty will be voided. This language would be the warranty whether the EPA required it or not, it is standard warranty language for an appliance. 
Lamppa Manufacturing, Inc
Tower, MN

If our small compan(Lamppa Manufacturing, Inc.) can pass the Phase 2 NSPS mandate (we were actually 40% cleaner than thPhase 2 mandate), these other manufacturers with their sizeablR&D resources should also be able to meet the mandate within the timeframe. Lamppa Manufacturing achieved the mandate solelby hard work and determination and by borrowing from our family’s retirement funds. 

Lamppa Manufacturing adhered to the law and the timeline and has created a businesplan based on meeting the NSPS. Our new manufacturing facility ibeing built at a cost of $ 1.8 million, plus the cost of additional production capital equipmenThis investment would not havbeen undertaken if we knew the EPA was gointo weaken or re-write the standard. 
Blaze King
Walla Walla, WA

We feel strongly that had EPA taken into consideration our comments for the 2015 NSPS, EPA and state regulators would have cordwood data that is real-world. 

Blaze King feels that Method 28R should be retained with crib fuel testing. We also feel that the goal of regulators, from various parts of the country with various species of wood, could be addressed. 

When a manufacturer advises EPA of an upcoming test of a wood heater, required by law, EPA would then direct the lab of record to conduct a randomly selected additional cordwood run. EPA would direct the test lab to conduct 1 run from low or medium low or medium high or high burn categories. Additionally, EPA would direct a species of wood for that run. The one extra cordwood run emissions result would not influence the weighted average. This would eliminate the need to have a cordwood standard specific passing grade and yet provide cordwood data. As an example, regulators from Washington would shortly have data for how catalytic wood heaters perform on low with Douglas Fir. Meanwhile, Eastern regulators would soon receive data on how secondary combustion stoves perform on hardwood on another burn category. 

Blaze King Industries, Inc. is aware of a letter sent to EPA date September 7, 2018 from the State of Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). We are deeply concerned about a concerted effort by a state agency and a single manufacturer to work in concert to spread false, misleading and out of date information in an effort to secure market share. It appears the DEP is interpreting EPA’s solicitation of comments to include not just the bifurcation of pellet heaters from cordwood heaters, but additionally the return to bifurcated standards amongst cordwood heaters. The letter sent to EPA contains outdated and misleading falsehoods and statements. Blaze King Industries, Inc. is 100% in opposition to the bifurcation of cordwood heaters based upon current data and sound reasoning. 

In reviewing comments filed by retailers in the NOPR regarding sell through, we recognized the names of dealers that submitted the form letter provided to them by the manufacturer mentioned previously. We contacted those dealers to inquire why they signed a form letter that contained false statements regarding catalytic wood stoves. The response we received each time was…”Didn’t even read it, we thought it was about getting a sell through.” 
Blaze King encourages EPA to make their decisions, as they have in the past, on science and data. Not the claims of two parties working in concert to benefit a single manufacturer. 
Masonry Heater Association
North America

Although the MHA has submitted numerous comments, data research, and proposals, the EPA has not moved forward to consider the implications of adding masonry heaters to the EPA Certified List of Products. 

By leaving masonry heaters out of the EPA Certified Products List, the EPA is drastically limiting clean burning heating choices for American consumers, which is against the EPA’s purpose.

The inclusion of masonry heaters in the NSPS would allow a cottage industry to grow into an industry that could encompass masonry contractors and hearth retailers throughout North America and promote the replacement of inefficient masonry fireplaces into safe, clean burning hearth systems. MHA research is “open source” and MHA intends to continue to share test data and assist state and federal agencies to promote clean burning options for customers who want the benefits of radiant heat and single batch burning appliances. 
Heat Master, 
Manitoba, Canada

We hope that the following improvements can be made to the regulations:
·       Eliminate Step 2 emissions until more data on cordwood testing using a widely accepted testing method can be collected to determine an effective, achievable level that reflects real world results as accurately as possible. 
·       Go back to the weighted average rather than individual run criteria in testing 
·       Use ISO Accredited 3rd party view to speed up the approval process for newly tested models 
·       Start categorizing pellet fuel appliances and cord wood appliances separately 


Yoder Outdoor Furnaces LLC
Floyd, VA
My biggest concern has been the complete lack of enforcement by the EPA. Any person willing to take an hour or two can find on the internet numerous smaller manufacturers advertising untested and unapproved models of wood stoves and hydronic heaters. This has been a huge hindrance to sales of approved Step 1 units (like our G series) as they are $ 1,500 to $ 3,000 higher than these cheap polluting models. Our sales post 2015 are about 50% of pre-2015 levels. HeatMaster is promoting that their dealers comply with the 2015 NSPS. Which we should, but it has come at a cost.I would guess that until enforcement actually happens no manufacturer can afford to invest heavily in testing as these cheap illegal models will not allow them to recoup costs. 
RLS Energy
Eaton Rapids, MI
Currently there is very little enforcement of the law. In my area I have heard of installs that to not comply. A commercial stove, legal at a business is not legal at a home. But no one checks. Any law without enforcement is nothing more than a request. Honest manufacturers and dealers will follow the law and the unscrupulous characters will cheat. I lose out when the cost of a compliant stove is above the cheater stove. If EPA wishes to regulate our products, they need to enforce it so that the good dealers and manufacturers who are acting 
in good faith don’t get punished. All we ask is for a level playing field.
Anonymous (retailer)

 In the last 3 years, I have lost approximately 50 sales to other manufacturers and dealers that have completely ignored the law and sell illegal appliances to customers. I support reducing emissions from wood burning appliances, but I feel as though the EPA needs to enforce their lawmaking if they are making laws. We are trying to follow the laws but feel as we are being punished for it by lack of enforcement on companies who aren’t. 


Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM)
Boston , MA

NESCAUM opposes any changes to the emission standards promulgated under the 2015 NSPS. There is simply no need or basis to delay or weaken the standards in light of the large body of evidence demonstrating they are technically feasible and cost-effective. 

NESCAUM does not support any sub-categorization scheme under the NSPS and urges EPA to maintain the current single standards for all space heating devices and for all central heaters. Establishing different emissions standards based on control technology is contrary to the fundamental construct of the NSPS program, which embodies the notion that emissions standards are established according to the best system of emission reduction (BSER), rather than on specific control technologies. If EPA decides to sub-categorize, it must provide details as to the data used to deem the current BSER analysis deficient and complete new BSER analyses for each potential category to support sub-categorization. 
EPA must require that a different lab be used for audit testing than was used for certification testing to minimize biases associated with the pre-existing relationship between test facility and manufacturer. NESCAUM suggests that EPA consider using a single and independent federal lab, such as Brookhaven National Lab, for all compliance audit testing. 

NESCAUM recommends that EPA use the Integrated Duty-Cycle (IDC) approach as the platform for certification testing of all residential wood heating appliances in the future. This procedure is designed to be accurate, representative, repeatable and affordable. It incorporates emission measurements during typical operating situations, including start-up, reload, and transition across various heat output loads. The single-day test allows for replicate testing without increasing certification test costs. 

NESCAUM does not believe that the ASTM or CSA cordwood test methods for heaters, furnaces and boilers, as currently designed, effectively replicates real-world conditions nor do they provide solutions for precision and variability concerns. 

Existing information indicates that redesigning wood heating devices to comply with Step 2 emission standards has not generally resulted in increased retail prices. In fact, verified consumer cost data from state woodstove change-out programs show that on average, cordwood stoves with emission performance levels below the Step 2 standard of 2.0 grams per hour are priced somewhat less than those with certified emissions above 2.0 grams per hour. Many states in the Northeast provide incentives that further reduce the cost of purchasing and installing high efficiency, low emissions wood heating appliances. 
NESCAUM requests that EPA sunset EN303-5 as a qualified certification method for the NSPS as soon as possible, but no later than the May 2020 deadline in the rule. 

EPA should adopt a requirement, to take effect immediately, for the concurrent use of a tapered element oscillating microbalance (TEOM) test method to measure real-time particulate matter (PM) during certification testing. We recommend using the NESCAUM Standard Operating Procedures. 
National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA)
Wash. DC

Compliance dates

EPA must undertake a review of the 2015 NSPS in 2023 and, based on its review, must revise the standards, if needed, to reflect improvements in methods for reducing emissions. EPA should reserve any review of or amendment to the level of or compliance dates for the 2015 NSPS until the statutorily required NSPS review, to begin in 2023. 

Transition to cordwood

NACAA does not, however, support any changes in this regard at this time. Rather, the agency should begin now to develop new test methods as described in these comments, above. With a rigorous schedule these methods could be completed and available for the statutorily required NSPS review in 2023. We urge that EPA work closely with state and local air agencies, as well as other stakeholders, throughout this test-method-development initiative. 

Also related to testing, EPA should adopt a requirement now, to take immediate effect, for the concurrent use of a tapered element oscillating microbalance (TEOM) test method to measure real-time particulate matter (PM), using the NESCAUM Standard Operating Procedures, along with standard filter measurements for all EPA residential wood heating device NSPS certification testing, including pre-burn activities.

Weighted Averages Versus Individual Burn Rates for Hydronic Heaters and Forced-Air Furnaces 

In the final 2015 NSPS Rule EPA did not include a weighted-average approach for HH and FAF Step 2 compliance and, instead, called for these devices to meet the standards at each individual burn rate to prevent large emission discharges. 

NACAA opposes the use of a weighted-average approach, which minimizes peak emissions, thereby presenting a less accurate reflection of in-field performance and would have the effect of weakening the Step 2 standards. The best system of emission reduction (BSER) analysis conducted by EPA for the 2015 NSPS Rule, and which underlies the Step 2 standards, did not include use of a weighted average. If EPA believes compliance should be determined with a weighted average instead of an individual burn rate the agency should conduct another BSER analysis to make this case and also demonstrate why its analysis for the 2015 NSPS Rule resulted in a different conclusion. 

EPA Compliance Audit Testing 

With respect to the selection of the lab to perform audit testing, one independent, third-party lab should be selected to conduct all compliance audit testing so that there is consistency across the program and that a lab that conducts certification testing is not permitted to conduct audit testing. 

With respect to variability in the compliance audit testing program, wood stoves that certify at less than 1 gram per hour (g/hr) should be allowed a variability of ± 1 g/hr. For units that certify at more than 1 g/hr, the current variability provision is adequate. 

ISO-Accredited Third-Party Review 

NACAA does not support allowing the EPA-approved lab that conducted the certification testing to also act as the third-party reviewer of the test results and recommends that EPA amend the 2015 NSPS Rule to prohibit this from occurring. 
California Air Resources Board
Sacramento, CA

Test methods

CARB supports the progress of the integrated duty-cycle test method being developed by Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Management (NESCAUM).The proposed test methods address what is absent in the current test methods. 

The ANPRM’s requests for information with respect to the emission limit for wood heaters do not request the right information, are biased and outcome seeking towards collecting evidence for weakened standards and miss the opportunity to collect the data necessary to perform an accurate and complete economic and regulatory impact analysis. 

Step 2 Emission Limits

Asking “whether Step 2 is achievable at a reasonable cost” is not the correct framing of the question. The answer to this question seems predetermined, particularly for those who ostensibly have “been unable to design a wood heater to meet the Step 2 standard.”28 There is no information provided as to how to identify what is “reasonable,” nor is there any request for the necessary evidence to back up a claim that a cost is not “reasonable.” Leaving a regulated entity to decide what cost is “reasonable” will undoubtedly provide a biased and outcome-seeking response. 

Electronic Reporting Tool (ERT) 

CARB supports the use of modern electronic reporting tools for both the certification process and subsequent public use. Electronic submission will speed up the certification process, increase transparency, and give the public up-to-date information on certified devices and those waiting certification, as well as information on devices that been denied certification and why. U.S. EPA should insure that information in the database will remain available. Wood heating appliances are made to last decades and the public should be able to get information on any certified stove, no matter when the certification was achieved.
Warranty Requirements for Certified Appliances 

The requirement to offer a warranty on a new residential wood heater is particularly critical in low-income households. Due to financial constraints, low income households often buy the least expensive devices; if problems arise, they may not have resources to buy replacement parts, leading to unsafe and higher polluting operations. 
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
St. Paul, MN

This notice requests comments on nearly every aspect of the standard: test methods being used or planned for use; the feasibility of meeting the promulgated compliance deadlines; the feasibility of the promulgated emission limits; revising averaging periods used to determine compliance with the standard; how testing companies are regulated; and how testing data is provided to EPA. 

Some of these concerns may merit evaluation, however, the MPCA believes that conducting this assessment prior to final implementation of the standard is premature. EPA is already required to re-evaluate the NSPS under Section 111(b)(1)(B) of the Clean Air Act (CAA)-the Act requires EPA to re- evaluate NSPS eight years after adoption. The MPCA believes that EPA should reserve any review of or amendment of the 2015 NSPS, and instead conduct its revisions or re-evaluations under its authorities of the statutorily-required NSPS review after the compliance deadline. 

Weighted averages vs individual burn rates 

EPA is soliciting comment on determining compliance with weighted averages instead of individual burn rates. A federally enforceable emissions standard is composed of an emissions limit, a method for measuring or determining emissions, and an averaging period. Similar to our comment about using a new emissions test method, revising the averaging aspect of the emissions essentially revises the standard. In order to consider a weighted average, EPA must evaluate all aspects of the standard- emission limits, averaging periods and the emissions testing method that the emission limit is based on. 


The record also highlights the several decades EPA and states have worked with the wood heating industry to develop clean, efficient heating products. To that end, the compliance deadline should come as no surprise to any party involved in developing, testing, or manufacturing the equipment. The contemplated changes are deeply impactful to public health; implementation of the standard should not be delayed. 

Missoula Public Health Department, 
Missoula, MT

When the EPA considers rule changes to the 2015 NSPS, the Board recommends the following: 

1. Maintain, at a minimum, the 2015 NSPS Step 2 emission limits for new residential hydronic heaters, forced-air furnaces and wood heaters. 
2. Keep the 2020 compliance date for the Step 2 emission limits for forced-air furnaces, hydronic heaters and wood heaters as specified in the 2015 NSPS. 
3. Cord wood testing methods should continue to be developed and provided as an option for emission testing since cord wood more closely mimics how consumers use wood heating devices. 
4. As more is learned about appropriate cord wood testing methods, a path for switching exclusively to cord wood testing for wood heating devices should be incorporated into the wood stove NSPS. 

Any delay or weakening of the 2015 NSPS would harm public health and make it harder for local jurisdictions to maintain or achieve the National Ambient Air QualityStandards for particulate matter in the air 


Advocacy Office, Small Business Administration
(This office does not necessarily reflect the position of the SBA or the Administration.)
Wash. DC

Because Advocacy is an independent office within the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the views expressed by Advocacy do not necessarily reflect the position of the Administration or the SBA. 

Advocacy strongly supports the proposal to provide a “sell-through” for hydronic heaters and forced-air furnaces and strongly supports extending a similar provision to wood heaters. 
In addition, in response to the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Advocacy recommends EPA consider the following measures to reduce the burdens on small businesses. 

·       Delay the step 2 compliance date by at least two years. Small businesses have lost the sales of their step 1-compliant appliances for the 2019-2020 winter, which has had the effect of forcing exit from the market and delaying R&D for step 2-complaince appliances. 
·       Review certification procedures to eliminate delays that do not contribute to environmental benefits. EPA should examine its records of step 2 certification to determine whether EPA pre-approval has prevented non-compliant appliances from coming to market. If the significant delays reported by industry are a result of incomplete submissions that have not required subsequent changes to the underlying appliance, then EPA should allow self-certification based on third-party testing. 
·      Reconsider treating all residential wood heaters as one product category. EPA regulates residential wood heaters fueled by wood pellets the same as those fueled by cord wood. While this is consistent with EPA’s stated desire to not show preference to any particular fuel in its air quality regulations, it may not be appropriate in a market where the vast majority of intended air quality benefits come from replacements rather than new installations. A customer seeking to replace a wood heater fueled by cord wood is discouraged from changing out if the available replacements are mostly fueled by pellets. 


Earthjustice, Environment and Human Health, Inc., Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Law & Policy Center, and National Parks Conservation Association
Wash. DC

Weighted Averages 

EPA’s suggestion that the agency may revisit the possibility of using weighted averages instead of requiring compliance with emission standards at each burn rate for central heaters would needlessly reopen an issue that was thoroughly examined and resolved in the 2015 final rule. See 80 Fed. Reg. at 13,684, 13,690. In order to ensure that wood burning devices do not harm public health in any reasonably anticipated operating mode, EPA must require units to comply at each burn rate, not merely on a weighted average of the unit’s performance at each tested rate.
Fuel-Specific Standards 

EPA’s observation that more pellet stoves meet the Step 2 standards than crib or cord wood stoves does not support the adoption of weaker emission standards for crib or cord wood-fired heating devices. The fact remains that the Step 2 standards are achievable using crib or cord wood. Section 111 does not require EPA to establish standards of performance that can be met by all types of sources using all types of fuel. 

Integrity of the testing and certification process. 

EPA seeks comment on whether compliance audit testing “should be performed by the same lab that did the certification test for a given wood heater appliance.” 83 Fed. Reg. at 61,592. EPA does not suggest what advantages this approach might have, but it has at least two clear drawbacks. First, engaging different labs to conduct audit testing will likely help to reveal ambiguities in the application of EPA’s test methods to specific products, by increasing the opportunities for different personnel at different testing labs to apply the same test method provisions to the same model of wood burning equipment. 

American Lung Association
Wash. DC

The Step 2 Standards adopted in 2015 were more than two decades overdue, despite explicit requirements in the Clean Air Act that such standards must be updated every eight years. They already included an unusually long implementation period. Normally, new source performance standards must be met immediately by the affected industry, particularly when the technology needed to meet these standards exists and is in use today. The European System showed in 2010 that comparable units were possible and produced greater efficiency in wood use and heat production (MusilSchläffer et al., 2010). Furthermore, as EPA notes, more and more American manufacturers produce many product lines that already meet these standards. However, the 2015 standards afforded industry five years to meet the new requirements, far longer than other industries, such as the automobile industry, receive. 
Alliance for Green Heat
Takoma Park, MD

Cats vs. Non-cats

AGH believes it is premature to artificially protect the market for non-catalytic stoves by extending a sell-through to all classes of stoves, including pellet stoves. 

Insufficient cost data on Step 2 stoves 

While we are likely to see a small rise in the price of many stoves as a result of Step 2 compliance, there is a noticeable lack of data supporting such a conclusion. 

Insufficient data that consumers will hold off buying new stoves 

There is very little data about the proportion of consumers buying a wood or pellet stove for the first time, as compared to those who are replacing an older stove. And often families switch from wood to pellet stoves, or vice versa. First time stove buyers and those who will buy a stove anyway, may be far more numerous than those who would have bought a new stove if it were $ 100 cheaper. 

Minimal public support for sell-throughs 

In 2014, EPA received 1,750 Comments in response to proposals that set 2020 as the deadline for Step 2 compliance. Just 5 years later, the process led by the current administration’s EPA generated only 75 comments for the sell-through for furnaces and boilers, including comments from less than 10 individual citizens. In addition, there is no state, county or city that supports providing a sell-through for what constitutes the dirtiest appliance class among wood heaters. 
#  #  #
Heated Up!

Wood stove industry faces unified opposition to deregulation

A 2018 portrait of the Western
Governors Association who
oppose delays in the NSPS timeline.
Amid the scores of comments filed in response to the EPA’s proposal to weaken Obama-era wood stove and boiler regulations, not a single state came out in support of the Trump Administration’s proposals.  
Attorney Generals from eleven states (CT, IL, MA, MD, MN, NJ, OR, NY, RI, VT & WA) filed detailed comments and are likely prepared to sue if the EPA tries to weaken the existing regulations.  Even Alaska and the Western Governors Association is backing the Obama-era timeline. A more troubling sign for the wood stove and boiler industry is an energized, engaged and knowledgeable array of states, air agencies and non-profit organizations that have lined up to oppose virtually all the changes that the stove and boiler industry is seeking from the Administration.

“We are seeing a polarization of stakeholders who once used to make alliances and find common ground,” said John Ackerly, President of the Alliance for Green Heat, an independent non-profit that promotes cleaner and more efficient wood and pellet heating. “The Trump Administration efforts has energized states and unified them across a range of issues, from compliance deadlines, to test methods, to regulation of wood pellet composition, to warranties and audits for stoves,” Ackerly said.

Key excerpts of stakeholder comments which this analysis is based on can be found here for those who don’t want to download and read through hundreds of pages of comments.

John Ackerly, head of the Alliance
for Green Heat.  Photo courtesy of
Popular Mechanics magazine.
Trump Administration proposes a delay
The biggest issue on the table is whether the EPA will extend a deadline and allow retailers to sell dirtier wood boilers and furnaces – and possibly wood stoves – until 2022 instead of 2020. The EPA has indicated an interest to provide this relief to wood boiler and furnace manufacturers and retailers, but time is running is out and the agency has been moving slowly on this issue.  It’s also unclear if states would be able to get an injunction to prevent such a move while it was being litigated.  
Scores of comments submitted to the EPA depict an industry that has few friends standing up for it outside its own network of manufacturers and retailers.  Attorney generals from three states with Republican governors – Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont – sided with democratic-led states in opposing any delay in stricter emission standards taking effect.  
Among industry, there is widespread unity to allow retailers two more years to sell Step 1 boilers, furnaces – and stoves – that are set to go off the market in May 2020, although a handful of small manufacturers and importers support the existing timeline.  
While manufacturers argue forcefully that they need a two-year sell-through, they are also having to assure their retailers that they will have 2020 compliant products.  For example, in comments submitted to the EPA, Jotul says it faces dire economic consequences with $ 2.5 million in raw cast iron at stake if a 2-year sell-through is not granted.  But in an industry magazine read by retailers, Jotul says they are doing “very well” certifying their 2020 models and expect to release their new 2020 models later this year.  Based on the EPA’s list of certified wood stoves, it appears that Jotul is one of the manufacturers who is far behind schedule, as they do not yet have a single 2020 compliant stove on the list.  Industry sources have said that the list of EPA certified stoves far underestimates the preparedness of many manufacturers who may be waiting to submit test data for 2020 compliant stoves until they are closer to the required date.

Richard Corey, CEO of
California’s Air Resources

While northeast and northwest states have been the principal state actors, California is making a big investment in challenging the EPA’s deregulatory proposals.  They filed extensive comments to both the Proposed Rule Making (PRM) and the Advance Notice of Proposed Rule Making (ANPRM).  They and many of other states challenge the legality of the EPA’s approach, setting the scene for what is likely to be a legal battle.  They argue:

“The [EPA’s] requests for information with respect to the emission limit for wood heaters do not request the right information, are biased and outcome seeking towards collecting evidence for weakened standards and miss the opportunity to collect the data necessary to perform an accurate and complete economic and regulatory impact analysis.  Asking “whether Step 2 is achievable at a reasonable cost” is not the correct framing of the question. The answer to this question seems predetermined, particularly for those who ostensibly have “been unable to design a wood heater to meet the Step 2 standard.”

Letita James, the Attorney
General of New York, is the
lead among eleven attorney
generals opposing a sell-
through and other changes.
Perhaps the most detailed argument for a two-year sell-through came from North East Distributors, one of the largest distributors of stoves made by many manufacturers.  They say that they “are in favor of manufacturers having to meet the May 15, 2020 deadline for stopping production of non-2020 compliant models” but against “holding distributors and retailers to the same May 15, 2020 deadline for sales of already manufactured products. Having the one date for all entities (manufacturers, distributors, and retailers) inhibits the results you are trying to accomplish.” 

A push to deregulate outdoor wood boilers

The main regulatory focus has been on a sell-through for outdoor wood boilers, also known as hydronic heaters, and inexpensive indoor wood furnaces.  Leaders of those companies have been testifying to Congress and lobbying the administration. 
For central heaters like boilers and furnaces, the main industry association, the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (HPBA) is calling on the EPA to “repeal those standards altogether.”  Strengthening emission standards for wood boilers and furnaces was one of the largest goals of the 2015 New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), and this call to deregulate that industry altogether represents a new front in the widening gulf between industry, states and air quality agencies.  
HPBA’s John Crouch, an
architect and mediator of
HPBA policies.
US Stove, the dominant manufacturer of indoor wood furnaces is also calling on the EPA to repeal emission standards for furnaces because the “economic feasibility of meeting the standards is impractical” and the emission levels are “preposterous and unrealistic.”  However, a far smaller competitor, Lamppa Manufacturing already has a furnace that meets the 2020 standards.
When it comes to outdoor wood boilers, fringe voices are not uncommon. There is a group of retailers and consumers supporting the “Hawken Proposal”, which calls for getting rid of federal emission standards for outdoor boilers altogether and letting states and municipalities voluntarily adopt standards.  The proposal is being led by Hawken Energy, a Missouri based company that believes the federal government should not interfere with how people heat their homes. 
In contrast, Central Boiler took a more moderate position and refrained from calling on the EPA to repeal Step 1 and/or Step 2 standards, instead asking the agency to “revisit the cost effectiveness and feasibility of the Step 2 emission limit.”
Lack of enforcement undermines certified boilers

Warren Walborn, CEO of Hawken
Energy with Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI).

An important concern among the outdoor wood boiler community is that the EPA has no enforcement capability to rein in the many manufacturers of unregulated outdoor boilers.  Yoder Outdoor Furnace, a HeatMaster retailer in Virginia said, “until [EPA] enforcement actually happens no manufacturer can afford to invest heavily in testing as these cheap illegal models will not allow them to recoup costs.”  That sentiment was echoed in many comments from industry, and it would seem to be an issue of concern to states and air quality agencies as well.  However, states and air quality agencies did not mention this problem in their comments.  
By opening the door to changes in the compliance timeline for stricter emission standards, the EPA may have built far more momentum for a new NSPS process in 2023.  The NSPS is supposed to be reviewed every eight years, and states and groups are likely to sue again to keep the EPA to that timeline.  Virtually all the states and air quality agencies engaged in fighting EPA’s proposed changes are now calling for far-reaching changes in the 2023 NSPS. If a democrat is in the White House in 2023, this momentum may result in even stricter emission limits and test method changes.  A group of eleven Attorney Generals said the 2020 emission standards are already “too lax.” If President Trump is re-elected, industry is likely to keep the upper hand and consolidate its goals, barring defeats in court.
Lisa Rector, a leader at
NESCAUM on wood
smoke reduction.

In addition to seeking input on granting a two-year sell-through for retailers for boilers and furnaces, and possible stoves, the EPA identified a half a dozen other issues for which it wanted feedback, from cordwood test methods to compliance testing.
The transition to cord wood testing

One area on which industry, states, air quality agencies and other groups all agree is the need to move toward testing and certification that more closely represents in-field operating conditions and performance.  This means testing and certifying stoves with cordwood, instead of crib wood (2x4s and 4x4s), capturing start-up emissions and potentially making even more structural changes to how stoves are tested.  The agreement may end there, however, as states and air quality agencies have now coalesced behind a test protocol being developed by Northeast States for Coordinated Airshed Management (NESCAUM) and the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA), called the Integrated Duty Cycle (IDC) method.  Industry is firmly behind the ASTM E3053 method that they developed through a consensus-based process from 2015 to 2018. 

VP Berger, one of Hearth &
Home Technologies senior
leaders on NSPS issues.
Neither side is proposing a rapid change to mandatory cord wood testing.  States and air quality agencies are looking to the next NSPS in 2023 to consolidate their positions and interests.  The State of Oregon, home to most of the test labs and the very first certification testing in the mid 1980s, submitted comments that were particularly critical of ASTM methods.  
Hearth & Home Technologies (HHT), whose comments were often more moderate than some of their peers, said, “HHT recommends using ASTM E3053 until such time there is data showing that the ASTM method doesn’t replicate real-world cord wood emissions or that a new Federal Reference Method is needed.” 
States want labs to start using TEOMs immediately
While states and air quality agencies say that they do not want to change the existing NSPS and believe that any changes to testing and emission standards should be taken up in the 2023 NSPS.  However, they are calling on EPA to “adopt a requirement now, to take immediate effect, for the concurrent use of a tapered element oscillating microbalance (TEOM) test method to measure real-time particulate matter (PM), using the NESCAUM Standard Operating Procedures.”  Such a requirement would seem to involve a change to the current NSPS, unless it were a voluntary measure that labs could undertake as part of a research effort outside of it.
Third-party certification of stoves 

Once stoves or boilers are tested by third party labs, those labs currently send the test reports to the EPA for review and then the EPA issues the certification allowing the manufacturer to make and sell the appliance.  
Industry urged the EPA to ask for comments about a change in this process, whereby the lab would test the appliance and grant the certification, bypassing review by the EPA. Industry points to delays and backlogs at the EPA enforcement office, which takes up to 90 days to grant certificates once the lab provides the necessary documentation.  
 EPA officials, including Amanda
Aldridge and Rochelle Boyd, listen
to testimony on Dec. 17, 2018
on proposals to revise the NSPS.
Again, states and air quality agencies have lined up to oppose this proposal, arguing that the same lab that is paid by the manufacturer to test the stove should not be paid by the manufacturer to issue the certification.  With cutbacks to EPA funding, it does not appear likely that the EPA would hire additional people to help streamline the certification process and at the same time provide other oversight and enforcement of the NSPS, such as cracking down on manufacturers of uncertified outdoor wood boilers. 
Compliance audit testing

Another topic on which the EPA solicited comments is how and when stoves could be retested and audited for emissions compliance.  Auditing the accuracy of the lab that did certification testing of a pellet stove is far easier, as the variability of emissions in pellet stoves is not nearly as great as in wood stoves.  Industry, led by HPBA and Central Boiler, took the position that an audit test should only happen “where there is suspected fraud in certification test results” not random spot checks.  HPBA took an even stronger position, saying that EPA should “prohibit audit testing for appliance categories until there has been a determination on variability for the applicable test.”
Blaze King’s Chris Neufeld, an
ardent promoter of catalytic stoves.
Others in industry, such as Hearth & Home Technologies, took the position that if a stove is to be audited, it should be done by the same lab that tested it initially or another lab chosen by the manufacturer.  
States and air quality agencies are taking a uniform position that “only an independent, third-party lab should be selected to conduct all compliance audit testing so that there is consistency across the program and that a lab that conducts certification testing is not permitted to conduct audit testing.” NESCAUM proposed that Brookhaven National Lab be designed as the independent lab.
Warranty requirements
Currently, the NSPS has warranty requirements for catalytic stoves, but not for non-catalytic stoves.  The industry position is that the NSPS should not have any warranty requirements. Hearth & Home Technologies commented that “all manufacturers already have warranty language… [and] whether the EPA required it or not, it is standard warranty language for an appliance.”
This topic drew less attention from states and air agencies, but most supported the retention of warranty language for cat stoves and the addition of warranty requirements for non-cats, “particularly ones for key components related to controlling emissions from the device (including, among others, tubes).”  Blaze King, a vocal leader on this issue, agreed that if any type of stove is required to provide warranty language, then all stoves should have that requirement.   
Steve Muzzy, head of Central Boiler.

Different emission standards for pellet and cordwood appliances
Some industry players see a solution to emission standards by holding pellet appliances, and possibly also catalytic appliances, to a stricter standard.  Central Boiler charged that the EPA was “negligent” to hold stick wood and pellet appliances to the same emission standard.
HPBA and industry leader Hearth & Home Technologies are not calling for a bifurcation of emission standards based on fuel type or whether a stove has a catalyst.  The first NSPS in 1990 originally set a 7.5 gram an hour standard for non-cat stoves and a 4.1 standard for catalytic stoves.  States and air agencies also do not support setting separate emission levels based on fuel or inclusion of a catalyst.  Tim Ballo, an Earth Justice attorney, commented, “EPA’s observation that more pellet stoves meet the Step 2 standards than crib or cord wood stoves does not support the adoption of weaker emission standards for crib or cord wood-fired heating devices.”
Bret Watson says Jotul is
doing “very well” in
certifying their 2020 models.
In an exasperated and testy comment, Blaze King accused Jotul of working with the State of Maine to “spread false, misleading and out of date information in an effort to secure market share.”  Jotul has been a strong advocate for non-catalytic stoves and was instrumental in distributing a form letter to retailers to submit to the EPA that severely criticized catalytic technologies.  An unspoken rule in the stove industry is never to criticize another manufacturer by name, but the Blaze King feud with Jotul has only become more intense as the NSPS revision process increased the stakes of the game.  It should be noted that in Jotul’s official comments to the EPA, they did not call for a bifurcation of emission standards. 
A renewable, low carbon energy source
The role of wood and pellets as a renewable, low carbon fuel is virtually lost by the EPA, industry, states and air agencies.  Technically, the renewability of wood plays no legal role in setting emission regulations or other EPA policies governing wood and pellet heating.  However, many industry comments referred to the important role that wood heating plays in the lives of rural, lower income households, allowing them an affordable alternative to fossil fuel heating.  While it didn’t appear in their comments, many of the states urging the EPA to maintain cleaner emission standards are also providing incentives for more deployment of wood and pellet heaters.  New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maryland and others all have programs aimed at strengthening modern wood heating.  The Alliance for Green Heat was founded to promote the role of biomass as a low carbon fuel source and has tried to gain industry support for innovation leading to the automation of wood stoves.  But for now, the sides have been drawn on this issue based mostly on affordability vs. cleanliness, not on carbon.

What comes next?
The EPA has said that it may make a decision on whether to grant wood boilers and furnaces a two-year sell through in the spring of 2019.  As for all the other issues, including a two-year sell-through for stoves, they have only issued an advance notice and still have to decide if they will issue a formal proposal.  That proposal would also be followed by a public comment period and it is difficult to imagine a scenario that the EPA could announce any “relief” for manufacturers before winter of 2019/2020.
Bill Wehrum, in charge of weakening
air pollution rules at the EPA for the
Trump Administration, has little time
to deliver on wood heaters.
Industry came close to securing a more robust compliance extension from Congress in 2018 but fell short in the Senate.  With Democrats now in charge of the House, Congressional support for weaker or delayed emission standards is not an option in 2019 or 2020.

Clearly, the attempt to dilute the NSPS by the Trump Administration has coalesced and unified states and air agencies behind positions developed by NESCAUM and others.  They are looking to 2023 to regain the ascendancy that they lost under Administrator Pruitt and Wheeler’s leadership at the EPA.  If democrats take the White House in 2022, rewriting the NSPS starting in 2023 could be a possibility.  But a democratic White House and EPA would, in turn, energize Republican governors who seem to have been complacent during this comment process.  Under Republican Governor LePage, Maine was the one state that was emerging as a vocal supporter of the EPA’s deregulation of wood appliances, but during the comment process, a Democratic Governor was elected.  

At this point, time is critical as May 2020 approaches. It appears that the issue was not important enough for the EPA to put on a faster track and members of Congress supporting the hearth industry were not able to change that.  With a little more than a year to go, the question is – is it too late anyway?

Heated Up!

Spotlight: A wood stove retailer sells his store and looks back four decades

Bodmer’s Stoves has been located in
this stone building since 1976.
Ed and Nancy Bodmer opened a wood stove story in the mid 1970s when they discovered Ashley stoves beat out all the cheaply made stoves on the market. That led to more than four decades selling wood stoves – and experiencing the ups and downs in wood heating in America. Ed and Nancy typify the older generation of stove retailers who spanned the transition from the inefficient, uncertified stoves, to the far more efficient and cleaner ones today.  
Unfortunately, by far the biggest heyday for stove sales was in the late 70s and early 80s prior to EPA emission regulations, leaving the country saddled with millions of polluting and inefficient stoves.  Retailers like Ed Bodmer have spent decades of their lives helping with the transition to cleaner stoves.
Their store, Bodmer’s Stoves is also home to Bodmer’s Pottery, run by Nancy and is located in an old, stone building Buckeystown, 10 miles south of Frederick in rural Maryland.  We called Ed to talk to him about his experiences over the years and heard many intriguing stories.
Selling a stove store in 2019
“Actually, I didn’t want to sell this year.  I wanted to wait until 2020 when I turned 75, but this guy really wanted to the business,” Ed recalled in a phone interview. This guy owns a local heating company and he called Jotul and Vermont Castings to become a dealer.  Both of those companies said no, because Ed Bodmer had that territory.  So, his only recourse was to buy out Ed, along with all his inventory.
Ed Bodner
Getting started in the 1970s
“We kind of fell into the business, like many others, when we were just looking for a good woodstove for our own home,” Ed said.  They started with Ashley and grew to represent many big-name brands like Pacific Energy, Jotul and Vermont Casting. “We like the kind of people who are willing to cut their own wood and grow their own food,” Ed recalled.  That culture was popular in the late 60s and 70s and there is a resurgence in local food today, if not heating with cord wood.
High and lows, and diversifying the business

“The high points in our business were the late 70s, after the oil embargo and after Hurricane Katrina,” Ed said.  Katrina was a Category 5 storm that was still strong as it moved north through western Maryland in August of 2005, just before the stove buying season.  Another high point that took the Bodmer’s by surprise was the Y2K scare in 2,000, when people thought computer bugs related to the date change from one century to the next may cause major power outages and other societal breakdowns.  The lows were the mid 1980s after the oil embargo ended and fossil fuel prices went back down during what was then called the “oil glut.”  
Ed and his wife Nancy focused on running a good business from August to February so that they could have time to garden, travel and enjoy life.  They decided not to diversify into patio and barbecue products and instead focused on their core product: stoves.
The ups and downs with pellet stoves
Bodmers carried pellet stoves for many years, but demand was not consistent, and they got out of the pellet stove business several years ago.  They carried the top brands, including Harman, but even so, the repair issues were always so much higher than with wood stoves. “I’d sell a wood stove and didn’t see the person for another 20 years, when they came back to buy a newer one,” Ed recalled. 
Nancy Bodner ran a successful
pottery business out the store.

Cat vs. non-cat and first time vs. repeat customers 
Ed was very interested in our question about what percent of buyers were replacing older stoves compared to first time stove buyers.  “I’d say it’s about 50-50,” Ed told us.  Bodmers had a lot of repeat customers, but unlike retailers of most consumer goods, the stove buyer only comes back every 20 – 30 years.  But that meant a lot to Ed, and he really enjoyed those customers who he had sold to in the 1980s or 1990s.  A lot of them who bought one of the original catalytic Vermont Castings wanted another catalytic Vermont Castings.  Ed told us that a lot of his customers did their research and knew that a catalytic stove would give a longer burn and higher efficiency, and that is what they wanted.  “So, we always sold a lot of catalytic stoves,” he said.  
The 50% of his customers who were first time buyers also got a wood heat lesson from Ed, to ensure that they knew how to use the stove well.  “We don’t have a lot of young customers,” Ed said. “Most were between 30 and 60, but one guy and his wife both in their 70s just bought a new stove because they love the heat and couldn’t live without it.”
The Maryland stove rebate program
Ed said that the Maryland stove rebate program was not that much of an incentive for his customers, many of whom did not want to pull a permit and or have the professionally installed.  Bodmers used to do installations in house but has used an independent installer for the last 6 years. (The Maryland rebate program is far more used by pellet stove buyers because they get a much higher rebate.)
Inventory and the 2020 EPA emission standards
Ed told us that he had very little inventory that was not 2020 compliant and it would not be hard to get rid of it before June 2020.  Bodmer’s is not an HPPA member currently but has been in the past. By staying in close touch with the manufacturers of the stoves he sells, he has stayed abreast of all the recent changes the industry is going through. He said that ordering and receiving new stoves has become even easier these days, and he could order a few Vermont Castings, for example, and have them in the store quickly.  He also didn’t seem too worried about June 2020, when the stricter emission standards kick in. “I heard Jotul just won a Vesta award for an upgraded Oslo and I look forward to seeing that” Ed told us. He currently has an older Oslo in his home.  The only question Ed had about the 2020 deadline was whether there would be another a price increase, which would be hard for some of his price sensitive customers. 

Heated Up!

Company makes 2020 certified warm air furnace for under $2,000 – and stirs controversy

Paul Van Der Eems, Dan Haynes,
and David Walters of HY-C accept
a Vesta Award for their furnace.
Updated on April 5, 2019 – Many said it could not be done.  A competitor called it “preposterous.” But HY-C, a Missouri company that makes a budget line of warm air wood-fired furnaces, is well on their way to being ready for June 2020, when stricter EPA regulations come into effect.  

Their first 2020 compliant model, their smallest unit, was certified at 0.106 lb/MMBtu Output, well under the .15 allowable. The suggested retail price is $ 1,899 which is only $ 100 more than the previous unit that was certified to the 2017 standards.  HY-C won a Vesta Award for the furnace at the industry’s annual expo in Dallas last week.

In 2014, HY-C went to the EPA and urged them to adopt a laddered approach, giving companies several years to get certified and several more to meet a stricter standard. “The EPA was responsive, giving us a total of 5 years,” David Walters, President of HY-C recalled in a phone interview.  David said that  when they bought the company in 2011, the NSPS process was well underway, and they knew they would have to change and clean up.  “It wasn’t easy, but we did it, and that is good for the environment, for consumers, and for us, the manufacturer,” David said.
The HY-C FC100E is the first
low-cost wood fired forced air
furnace to meet the strict EPA
2020 emission standards.
The EPA won’t list a certified unit on the list of certified appliances until the company posts their lab test report on their website.  Parts of those reports are highly technical but provide key information for consumers and others. The HY-C report said the unit achieved 50% delivered efficiency and a stack loss efficiency of 71%. It was certified using a modified test protocol that had been approved in advance by the EPA.  Intertek laboratories did the testing using about 36-pound loads of cord wood that had about 22% moisture content.  The five tests ran 3 to 6 hours.  Their target output was 13,000 – 37,000 BTUs but the certification test obtained 20,000 – 34,000, due in part to the modified test protocol. 

To date, the only other company to have a 2020 compliant forced air furnace is Lamppa Manufacturing, which hit .09 lbs/MMBtu several year ago and has a 54% delivered efficiency, slightly above the HY-C unit and a stack loss efficiency of 79%.  That unit, the Vapor-Fire 100 is currently priced at $ 5,695 and also obtained a test protocol variance from the EPA in the test protocol.  The Vapor Fire weights 670 pounds, which may indicate thicker and more durable materials compared to the HY-C unit at 435 pounds.  

The Lamppa Vapor Fire
100 is the only other 2020
compliant wood furnace,

Another big player in the forced air furnace space is US Stove, and it’s unclear when they will have a 2020 compliant unit.  Of their eight units certified to the 2017 standards, one came in at 33% efficiency and an average of 60% efficiency. US Stove is urging the EPA to repeal the Step 2 standards for forced air furnaces, arguing that agency picked a “compliance limit out of thin air with not [sic] real data to support it.”  In a filing with the EPA, they said that the EPA’s timeline of going from an uncertified appliance category to meeting .15 mmBTU “is preposterous and unrealistic.”  HY-C appears to have just proved otherwise.

However, the willingness of the EPA to approve alternative test methods can be controversial, and companies often claim a competitor got an unfair advantage with a particular variance.  The EPA is not supposed to approve variances that make the protocol easier to pass, but that may just what is happening in some instances.  Variances are a critical tool for the EPA to allow for innovative products to be fairly tested and they also create a precedent for others to receive similar variances.

The largest player in the Canadian forced air furnace market is Stove Builders International (SBI) and they do not directly compete in the budget market with US Stove or HY-C.  SBI is also working on certifying furnaces to the 2020 standards but “we are trying to achieve the desired performance without using the alternative test method that the EPA has granted to others,” said Marc-Antoine Cantin, of SBI.  “We want to put out a product that cycles combustion and doesn’t just cycle the blower, while the unit is kept burning at a single burn rate,” Cantin said.  

HY-C sells their furnaces through a variety of distributors and retailers, including many big box stores. They provide all of their own customer services and have tens of thousands of units in the field that provide them with intensive customer feedback.  They make all of their furnaces in St. Louis Missouri and have extremely little inventory of non-2020 inventory left and expect to start shipping 2020 compliant units in July.  “We worked hard with distributors, so the pipeline of older units is dry,” Walter told us.  As a result, they have abstained from the debate as to whether the wider industry needs a 2-year sell through for units that are not 2020 compliant.  Lamppa has been an outspoken defender of the original timelines, arguing that a 2-year sell through would be unfair. Click here for more on that debate.
The EPA exempt US Stove 
1357 Hotblast  “coal only” furnace 
also advertises “21 in. log 
capacity” at Home Depot (Home
Depot discontinued the unit
a week after the story appeared.)

Both US Stove and HY-C say that their customer base is very price sensitive and need a furnace under $ 2,000, if not close to $ 1,500.  Other industry experts have questioned how so many people came to expect a whole house furnace for less than the price of an average wood stove and assumed that price would have to climb substantially to meet 2020 emission standards.  At the core of the fight between industry, states and air quality agencies is whether the price of wood appliances and costs to manufacturers should drive EPA standards more than other factors.  While HY-C was able to meet both the timeline and the emission standards, it is still unclear how well it will be received by the general public.  US Stove also make “coal only” units that are exempt from EPA emissions and sell side-by-side in many stores with the regulated wood units. HY-C has a coal only unit but only sells a few each year direct to consumers and not through retailers.

According to one industry insider, Tractor Supply Company stores is the biggest seller of wood furnaces from their 1,700 US stores.  Floor staff at chain hardware stores like this have reportedly been trained to inform consumers that the “coal only” units can burn wood perfectly well.  Companies that make both wood and coal units benefit from this and can sustain market share, even as EPA standards tighten.

Certifying to 2020 standards appears to have led to shorter burn times and more finicky furnace and boilers for some units.  HY-C advertised up to 12-hour burn time and a maximum of 130,000 BTU output for the unit as certified to 2017 emission standards.  The EPA listed BTU output up to 45,000.  The 2020 version only had up to 6-hour burn times in the lab and a maximum of 34,000 BTU output.  Both the 2017 and the 2020 model accept 20-inch logs.  Can the 2020 version meet consumer expectations at virtually the same price? 

But for now, HY-C achieved what they set out to. “We planned to build a better mouse trap and we feel that we succeeded, with advice from industry experts and our consumers,” David Walter said.  “In America, we should not take for granted that we have clean air and water, thanks to Congress and decades of work by the EPA,” Walter continued.  If anyone thinks the EPA efforts are a waste of time, Walters says all you have to do is visit Shanghai or some other foreign cities. “It’s so polluted you can barely walk outside and see the other side of the street,” he said.

Heated Up!

Massachusetts renews innovative stove change-out program

Changing face of wood stoves in America includes a comeback of catalytic stoves 

Massachusetts announced an 8th round of annual funding for its innovative wood stove change out program. The program was the first in the country to develop a change out program that gave higher incentives to fully automated stoves and stoves that provide a verified efficiency on the list of EPA certified stoves.

The program, updated in April 2019, changes some of the rebate levels and provides consistently higher levels of rebates than most change out programs. It now offers Massachusetts residents between $ 500 and $ 3,250 for upgrades, depending on the stove and income level of the family.  To be eligible, households must have an operating, uncertified wood stove to trade in for a new wood or pellet stove.  Rebates can cover 30 – 80% of costs of the new stove and installation.

Governor Charlie Baker said in a statement the change-out program “improves air quality across the commonwealth and helps residents save money by adopting more efficient, cost cutting heating technologies.”

The program favors appliances that burn more cleanly in the hands of consumers by offering the highest rebates ($ 1,750) to pellet and fully automated stoves that have listed efficiencies over 65%. The highest wood stove rebates ($ 1,250) can be claimed for catalytic (or hybrid) or non-catalytic stoves that emit 2 grams an hour or less and have a listed efficiency of 65% or more on the EPA list. The lowest rebate of $ 500 covers non-cat stoves that emit between 2 and 3 grams and do not have a listed efficiency. Income-based rebates for low income residents range from $ 2,000 to $ 2,750, plus the efficiency adder if the stove has a listed efficiency.

This table is reproduced from the Change-out Program Manual (pdf).

Massachusetts provides a helpful list of rebate amounts for all stoves that emit under 3 grams an hour. There are 596 stoves on the list. As a sign of the changing face of wood stoves in America, 216 or 36% of these stoves have verified efficiencies on the EPA list. Just two years ago, in the spring of 2017, only 87 stoves had listed efficiencies of 65% or higher. 

This shows that in a short span of time, consumers have far more access to efficiency data than in the past. Change out programs like this one help drive consumers to purchase higher efficiency stoves. According to people familiar with the Massachusetts program, most consumers buy stoves with listed efficiencies rather than forgo the $ 500 – $ 750 efficiency adder.  New York and Maryland also now include efficiency criteria in statewide stove incentive programs.

In a further sign of changing times, we are seeing a major resurgence of catalytic stoves. Fifty of the 216 stoves with verified efficiencies are cat stoves, compared to 61 that are non-cat. Many manufacturers are now using the term “hybrid” for stoves that have a catalyst and robust non-cat secondary combustion. Given the spotty reputation of catalytic stoves in the 80s and 90s, some manufacturers appear to be using catalysts to pass the 2020 standards but not advertising that the stove has one. In the Massachusetts change out program, hybrids are treated like catalytic stoves and receive the higher rebate.

Pellet stoves comprise the biggest share of stoves with listed efficiencies with 95 models. This high number of pellet stoves is a reflection of the ease of getting pellet stoves re-certified to the 2020 standards, which require efficiency testing and disclosure.

Steve Pike, CEO of the
Massachusetts Clean Energy
Center announced the program at
the Fire Place in Whately MA.

Possibly most surprising part of the Massachusetts list is that the  6 stove models under 65% efficiency are all pellet stoves. It is vital for consumers to rely on the efficiency figures on the EPA list because most stove manufacturers continue to provide exaggerated or misleading efficiencies on their websites and promotional materials. For example, the Regency Greenfire GC60 made by Sherwood Industries was tested at 60% efficiency, which had to be disclosed on the EPA list.  But the manufacturer’s website says “76.6% optimum efficiency.”

Massachusetts’ program gives its highest stove rebate of $ 1,250 to “fully automated woodstoves (FAW)” that consumers can “load and leave.” A FAW is defined in the program as a “stove that (a) automatically adjust the stove’s airflow and therefore includes no manual airflow controls and (b) has sensors that provide temperature-control capabilities.” There are currently four such stoves on the list. Determining which stoves can be designated as fully automated is tricky. Other states and change out programs are interested in this issue as well.   The development of automated wood stoves could eventually reshape how we think about wood stoves, as they transform an age-old technology into a modern, high-tech appliance.

One important characteristic of wood stoves that does not appear on any list of stoves is whether the stove was designed for, and tested with, cordwood. Change out programs may see value in giving an extra rebate to encourage more consumers to use stoves designed to burn with cordwood instead of crib wood.

The 2019 Commonwealth Woodstove Change-Out Program has a budget of $ 450,000, which adds to the more than $ 2 million in funding for change-outs since the program began in 2012. The program has helped more than 2,300 residents swap out their non-EPA certified, inefficient stoves for newer, cleaner models. More than 500 of these rebates went to residents earning less than 80 percent of the state median income.

The program is run the by Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) in coordination with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER). Residents must have the new stove installed by a Participating Stove Professional who ensures that the old, uncertified wood stove is destroyed. There are currently 65 stove professionals participating, double the number from 2 years ago. Installers are encouraged, but not required, to be NFI or CSIA accredited.

Heated Up!

Despite claims of “devastating” impact, wood stove industry positioned to meet new emission standards

With the Step 2 deadline for wood and pellet stoves just a year away, most stove manufacturers say they are ready or will be soon. Many retailers also say they are ready, while others prepare to deeply discount stoves that can’t be sold after May 2020. Gone are the days when industry was trying to convince Congress and the Administration that EPA’s new stove regulations would have a “devastating” impact. Such claims are common in Washington, as groups try to rally their base, but it can also lead to a diminished credibility for an industry association if the hyperbole goes too far.
From the start, it was clear that the boiler and furnace manufacturers needed relief far more than stove companies and retailers.  Heads of outdoor boiler companies and indoor wood boilers that cost less than the average wood stove were leaders of a campaign to get Congress to give all classes of heaters a three-year delay in meeting the new standards.  At the same time, the industry association Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) was challenging many of these standards in court, meaning a three-year delay could be permanent for some classes of heaters, if courts agreed with HPBA.  But it was never clear that stoves needed any delay and industry effort would have stalled innovation and efficiency improvements and put tens of thousands of families at higher risk of more wood smoke exposure.  The fallback position was that industry needed a two-year sell year, allowing manufacturers to sell Step 1 product during the fall and spring of 2019/2020, and retailers to sell Step 1 product until May 2022.  

At first, it appeared that the EPA under the current Administration was open to providing a two year  sell-through for stoves, but they have only issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for boilers and furnaces, not for stoves.  Theoretically, the EPA could still issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for a sell through for stoves but at this point it may be too late to provide any meaningful relief.
Many states pushed back strongly against watering down the NSPS and no state filed comments backing the Trump Administration’s proposals.  States also began preparing their own plans in the event the EPA does change NSPS timelines, which could create a patchwork of regulations and more antagonistic relationships with a renewable energy industry.

If some manufacturers were not taking the 2020 deadline sufficiently seriously from 2016 – 2018, they are all likely to be doing so now.  Instead of focusing on government relief, HPBA’s outreach to industry stakeholders is taking an a more urgent tone that everyone needs to focus on heeding the May 2020 deadline. However, almost all manufacturers were already focused on May 2020 for their own financial health and to assure their retailers that they are a reliable future partner.  And, many manufacturers and virtually all retailers already are well-diversified with gas fireplaces and stoves which often outsell their wood and pellet appliances.

The list of stove manufacturers who are ready for 2020, almost are or “well-positioned” to be 2020 ready grows by the week. As of May 1, they include:  APR Industries, Blaze King, Even Temp, ExtraFlame, Foyers, Heat Tech, Hearthstone, Innovative Hearth Products, Jotul, Kuma, Laminoux, MF Fire, Napoleon, Pacific Energy, Rais, Regency, Roby, RSF Fireplaces, SBI, Stuv, Supreme, Thelin, Travis and Woodstock Soapstone.  Hearth & Home Technologies, by far the largest manufacturer, says a majority of its stoves will be 2020 certified this year.
The 2020 deadline will undoubtedly be tough for much of the industry, but it remains to be seen if it’s tougher than lean shipment years such as 2007 and 2012.  Overall, the threat to industry does not appear to be as serious as industry claimed even a year ago.  The 2020 deadline is also bringing about benefits. some foreseen and others not. Some retailers still have stocks of Step 1 stoves and there is likely to be some heavily discounted stoves in the final year leading up to the deadline.  Retailers are still ordering some Step 1 stoves, but in much smaller quantities.  Many retailers are only buying Step 2 stoves but may face still competition from fire sales of Step 1 stoves by competitors.  Sending Step 1 stoves to Canada could have been a good outlet, but the more populous Canadian provinces have either adopted the 2020 deadline or are in the process of doing so. Other foreign countries are still a good option.  Most big box stores have the buying power to protect themselves by requiring manufacturers to buy back unsold inventory, influence that specialty hearth retailers don’t have. 

Over the last six months, HPBA has developed more clear and insistent messaging for retailers and is using social media more to get the message across.  A facebook post outlined 5 things retailers need to know to survive the NSPS. Included is also a fear that in the race to meet the 2 gram an hour standard, some manufacturers may be putting out stoves that haven’t been sufficiently beta-tested and simply won’t work well in the real world.  This could jeopardize retailers who unknowingly carry those stoves.  HBPA urged retailers to test the stoves themselves, before selling them to customers, a tall order for retailers over the summer season.  The message for consumers is that the next twelve months will be a buyers’ market with unprecedented sales and discounts of Step 1 products
For the most part, the hyperbole from industry that consumers would be priced out of new stoves and there would be very little variety of product on floors, is not materializing.  Some manufacturers that were well known for disparaging catalytic stoves are now embracing them, swelling the ranks of “hybrid” stoves that only mention the catalyst in the fine-print. Presumably, this new crop of hybrids learned the tough lessons of the 80s and 90s, and their catalyst are well protected from flame impingement.

The 2020 deadline is also providing industry a gradual transition to cordwood testing, as some manufacturers opt to test with it.  Some groups idealistically hoped for a far quicker transition to cordwood.  Stoves tested with cordwood can emit up to 2.5 grams an hour, although many of them are coming in under 2 grams.  Despite messaging in advertisements from HPBA that it “shares the same goals as regulators,” the 2.5 gram an hour standard for cordwood is one of the many emission standards that HPBA is challenging in federal court.  The many delays to the lawsuit may make it tougher for HPBA if enough stove models come in under 2.5 grams an hour using the broadly applicable alternative ASTM cordwood test method.
Many stakeholders are already looking past the 2020 deadlines toward the next NSPS, which by law should be scheduled in 2023.  Whenever the 2015 NSPS is superseded, there is likely to be intense controversies over certification protocols for cordwood testing and a timeline for all stoves to be tested with cordwood.  Key northeastern states believe the consensus driven ASTM Method is deeply flawed and are working behind the scenes on new test methods.

Unlike the 1988 wood heater NSPS that decimated the ranks of small stove manufacturers, the 2015 NSPS does not appear to be forcing manufacturers out of business. The 1988 regulations drastically improved the functioning, safety, cleanliness and efficiency of stoves while also driving up prices of those that were not claimed to be exempt.  The question remains whether the 2015 NSPS will significantly improve the functionality of stoves as they become cleaner and more efficient in the lab. Pellet stoves may the winners as their lab numbers should hold up in homes of consumers, a significant benefit that is rarely acknowledged by most in industry.  We can all agree that there will be both intended and unintended consequences which will take years to unfold.  Stay tuned.


Heated Up!

DOE offers funding for “state-of-the-art” residential wood and pellet heater R&D

Jonathan Male, Director of the Bioenergy
Technology Office at DOE, speaking at
the 2018 Wood Stove Design Challenge
Funding can help manufacturers meet 2020 emission standards
Updated on May 9 – For the first time, the US Department of Energy issued a funding announcement to support the development of innovative, state-of-the art technology in residential wood and pellet stoves and central heaters.  
The announcement is part of a larger funding opportunity from the DOE’s Bioenergy Technology Office (BETO), which includes wood heaters because of a Congressional earmark. The DOE will provide up to $ 5 million in grants from $ 300,000 to $ 1,000,000. They expect to issue between 5 – 7 grants. The timeline for applying is short and requires a concept paper to be submitted by June 3 as a precondition of submitting the full application on July 22, 2019.
The funding is timely as it could assist wood stove, boiler and furnace manufacturers in developing heaters that meet the EPA’s 2020 emission standards. Funding is available for research and development on innovative heater design, not just for certification lab testing. Thus, manufacturers who may have delayed R&D could benefit from this grant the most, compared to those who already have a nearly full line of 2020 compliant heaters. Manufacturers can bring Step 2020 compliant heaters to market any time before or after the May 15, 2020 deadline. Funding from the DOE is expected to last for 2 – 3 years, covering work completed in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
Many manufacturers are in the midst of completing their testing prior to the May 2020 deadline, but innovation will not end after that. Many manufacturers will initially be offering a smaller variety of models and add more to their product lines based on market conditions.  

“The Alliance for Green Heat applauds the DOE bioenergy program for moving beyond funding for biofuels and supporting innovation in the wood and pellet heater sector,” said John Ackerly, President of the Alliance for Green Heat. “This funding and hopefully more in the future could kickstart a new wave of American innovation and ingenuity in wood heater design which is vital to keep wood and pellet heaters competitive with solar and other renewable technologies.”

The US is a world leader in manufacturing clean wood stoves, but behind European countries when it comes to efficient pellet stoves and wood and pellet central heaters. Most European governments have invested in R&D in biomass heaters, leaving US manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage.
R&D to design cleaner stoves and perform internal testing before sending the stoves to a certification lab constitutes one of the biggest expenses for manufacturers striving to meet 2020 emission targets. If this DOE funding had come two years earlier, it could have played a far greater role in assisting wood heater manufacturers, some of whom are cash-strapped as they must redesign their entire line of stoves and central heaters. 

The DOE appears to be trying to fund more than just tweaks and adjustments to traditionally-designed cat and non-cat stoves. Applications that can demonstrate genuine advancements toward state-of-the-art technology that ensure heaters burn well during start-up and reduce the opportunity for human error may have an edge.

The requirements of the application process include baseline emissions data matched with design change concepts that could substantially lower emissions and increase efficiency. These and other requirements are likely to make it tougher for smaller entities that do not have sophisticated internal labs or certified Step 1 stoves to apply within the short application timelines. Any company that has Step 1 products with baseline data showing they are within the 2015 Step 1 emission standards are eligible if their R&D ideas could achieve the DOE’s requirements of a 50 – 80% reduction in emissions and a 5 – 15% increase in efficiency.
Beyond merely preparing for traditional EPA testing, “applicants are encouraged to expand the testing regimen to evaluate performance over the full cycle of residential wood heater operating conditions (representative of how homeowners actually use their residential wood heaters with representative wood feedstocks).” 
The awards will be substantial but widely dispersed among 10 areas within the bioenergy field. “At DOE, we are focused on expanding America’s energy supply, growing the economy, and enhancing energy security, which will all be furthered by the significant advancements made in bioenergy technologies,” said Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. “The funding opportunities announced today will help ensure our nation’s competitive advantage in the emerging bioeconomy and allow us to continue to offer U.S. consumers and businesses more homegrown energy choices.”
Areas of R&D interest
DOE listed four specific areas of interest, though other innovations are not excluded.

Automation of wood
stoves using sensors
is one of key areas of
interest for the DOE

  • Novel and innovative residential wood heater designs 
  • Improvements in automation of stoves
  • Wood heater power generation via thermoelectric module integration, and 
  • Improvements in catalyst technologies 
The first area, novel and innovative heater designs, encompasses changes to the combustion chamber, combustion air flow and baffle designs. It could be challenging for the DOE panel reviewing applications to distinguish between more traditional design changes and novel ones in this area, as either one could result in emissions under 2 grams an hour.

The second area, improvements in automation of stoves, includes robust sensing technologies and remote control and real-time performance monitoring. Wood and pellet stoves, boilers, and furnaces could all integrate sensors that monitor and control combustion conditions better. The DOE was a core funder of the 2018 Wood Stove Design Challenge that focused on automation and gave them insight into the potential of this area.

The third area covers producing electricity from thermoelectric technology, an area that the DOE also explored through the 2018 Wood Stove Design Challenge.

Lastly, the fourth interest area is improvements in catalyst technology, which appears to cover R&D in the making of catalyst manufacturing as well as their integration into heaters.

The timeline is tight and successful applications for similar DOE funding opportunities often do much of the work prior to the release of the funding announcement. The 4-page concept papers are due on June 3, and only applicants who submitted concept papers can submit a full application due on July 22. The DOE expects to notify applicants by September 30 and issue awards in October and November, which is in the DOE’s 2020 fiscal year. Deadlines and other requirements are strictly enforced, and the DOE will not consider applications that stray from the guidelines.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to register and sign on to the DOE’s Exchange System at least a few days before submitting a concept paper, so registration issues can be averted ahead of time.
DOE has relatively broad eligibility requirements. Individuals, for-profit companies, non-profits, universities, and state, local, and tribal governments can all apply. Foreign entities and companies can also apply as long as they have a US office. Federal agencies and DOE labs, such as Brookhaven National Lab, are not eligible to be prime recipients but could be a sub-recipient of a grant. All work must be performed on US soil.
Cost Share

Applicants must provide 20% of the total project costs. The 20% can include in-kind services or cash from non-federal sources.  Cost share may be provided by the prime recipient, subrecipients, or third parties. 


All questions about the FOA must be submitted to: DOE personnel are prohibited from communicating directly with applicants.  All questions and answers related to this FOA will be posted on EERE Exchange:
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EPA releases long-awaited searchable wood heater database

A screen shot of part of the
navigation of different fuel types
in the new EPA database
Consumer friendly site is cause of worry for some

Updated May 30 – This week, the EPA released its long-awaited searchable stove and central heater database, overhauling a decades-old practice of using basic excel sheet lists.

The EPA said the new database was designed to“improve accessibility and usefulness” by allowing users to search for the cleanest stoves, the most efficient stoves, those designed to burn cordwood and other attributes.
A wide range of stakeholders, from industry to states to non-profits, had been urging the EPA to switch to a modern searchable format for nearly a decade. The painfully slow development of the database at times seemed to epitomize the government’s reputation to move at a snail’s pace. The list is maintained by the EPA’s Office of Enforcement, which like much of the EPA has been hit with repeated budget cuts and loss of staff in recent years.
The sleek new functionality of the list, allowing users to focus on one parameter or another, is also worrying to many in the stove industry. Traditionally, this list of certified wood heaters has not been a primary information source for consumers. But with this new functionality, consumers may start relying on it more and more, leading to some unintended results, such as worse buying decisions or ones that favor some manufacturers over others.  One feature that the old excel spreadsheets had that will be particularly missed by many was the clear designation of which stoves were newly added to the list each time it was updated.
One fear is that consumers will put too much reliance on higher BTU output if they can easily search and cross reference by these values. Right-sizing a stove is already problematic, and the BTU values on the list are overinflated due to loose parameters that allow labs to show high BTU output. Another fear, expressed by some manufacturers at the recent HPBA Expo in Nashville, is that consumers will favor “Cord Wood” stoves over “Crib Wood” stoves because they are not familiar with the lexicon of stove testing and the legacy of crib wood. This could lead to a surge in the sales – and reputation – of the 10 models that have been designed for and tested with cord wood. Other stakeholders welcome the feature, hoping that the companies who were among the first to invest in cord wood testing will benefit.
The EPA chose to include a box that helps consumers identify the cleanest and most efficient stoves,

and some say that this puts unwarranted attention to values that won’t necessarily translate from the lab to the home. This “Quick Searches” box will likely be used by consumers who don’t understand pellet stoves work similarly in the home as they do in the lab, but wood stoves can only achieve the optimal lab numbers with a large bed of coals, dry wood and careful operation.

This “certified fuel type” feature also sheds light on one the biggest problems with the new searchable data – accuracy. Six wood stoves are listed as using wood chips as a fuel, an apparent mistake according to one of the manufacturers of those stoves. This could hurt sales of those units if consumers are relying on the database to narrow down the stoves they may purchase. EPA staff are quick to say that this is a work in progress and it is incumbent on manufacturers to vet the list and provide the EPA with corrections. In 2017, the HPBA warned the EPA that many inaccuracies – such as stoves being listed as wood chip stoves – existed in the database. Many of the same errors are still listed two years later.

The Alliance for Green Heat welcomes the new database and had the opportunity to provide input on several occasions as other stakeholders did. Some of our suggestions and wording was adopted and some was not. AGH believes that the new database will help consumers become more educated about the working of stoves and the terminology, but it will take time and effort by the wood heating community.

The release of the database was coordinated with the update of some key pages on the EPA’s Burn Wise website. The EPA finally changed their page on hydronic heaters which previously defined and pictured them just as outdoor boilers, a change that AGH had urged them to make for years. They also made major changes to their efficiency page which had not been updated since the EPA began requiring testing and reporting of efficiency of stoves.

Features and functions
·      Pellet stoves
A simple search that used to take hours, now takes seconds.  For instance, with 5 clicks, the database shows that 40 of the 70 pellet stove models that are 2020 compliant emit one gram an hour or less – an impressive feat considering pellet stove lab values are relatively consistently with how they perform in homes. 
·      Catalytic Stoves
The database shows that 27 of the 68 wood stoves that are 2020 compliant are catalytic, underlining the surge in catalytic models that resulted from stricter emission limits.  
·      Hybrid Stoves
Wood stoves are divided into three
subtypes – cat, non-cat and hybrid – but
hybrid stoves are not yet listed

Hybrid stoves, which almost all use both catalysts and air tubes for secondary combustion, are listed as a subtype, but no stoves turn up in a search for that term.  It is unclear if the EPA intends to populate that subtype. AGH is urging the EPA to also add “automated stoves” as a subtype in the future. Both hybrid and automated stoves offer great promise to help consumers run stoves more cleanly and should be identified in the database.

·      BTU Output
With tighter homes and a new breed of tiny homes, it is now easy to search for stoves with the lowest BTU output. Forty stoves, 20 wood and 20 pellet, were tested at less than 25,000 BTU. AGH believes that many units still have erroneously high BTU values based on loose parameters in lab testing and reporting, and these values should be used with great caution.  For wood stove, firebox size is probably a more accurate indicator of BTU output.
·      Efficiency
The EPA has chosen to use the term “overall efficiency” instead of simply “efficiency.” Some manufactures use “optimal efficiency” or “maximum efficiency” instead of publishing the EPA tested efficiency, which is lower. The database quickly shows, for example, that 37 of the 70 pellet stoves that are 2020 compliant are 75% efficiency (HHV) or higher – another great improvement compared to the performance of pellet stoves just 5 years ago.
·      Carbon monoxide
Nearly 150 stoves that are 2020 compliant have CO values showing a huge range from 0.0 to 6.1. Of the 23 stoves tested at less than 0.1 gram of CO per minute, all but 3 were pellet stoves. The carbon monoxide listing raised concern from some who worry that consumers may use it instead of PM as a primary indicator of cleanliness, or that consumers may think it’s an indication of amounts of CO emitted into the room.
·      In and out of production
The database shows 565 models in production, a number that will likely drop significantly as of June 2020. And it has nearly 700 stoves that emit less than 4.5 grams but are out of production.
·      Previously certified
The database also shows the 205 stoves that were previously EPA certified at 4.6 grams or higher, a feature that could be very helpful for change out program managers who want to target older certified stoves, many of which need replacement.
·      Key terms and definitions
The EPA provides a new page with definitions of key terms such as adjustable burn rate vs. single burn rate heaters, fireplace insert, wood pellets, etc.
·      Central Heaters
The database is separated into two: “Room Heaters” and “Central Heaters” and you have to select one or the other or your search may turn up empty. There are only 12 central heaters that are 2020 compliant, and eleven of those use cord wood. While central heaters have had a harder time meeting the Step 2 requirements, many more have either been approved by labs or are in the pipeline to be 2020 compliant.  Efficiencies of pellet boilers are more complex because those that get listed with European test data are likely to show higher efficiencies, even though they are converted to HHV. 
Not included in the new database

Some stakeholders have urged the EPA to include more search attributes, such as the test method, lab, and a link to the detailed lab report that manufacturers are required to post on their websites. The list also does not say whether PFI certified pellets were used during certification testing and are thus technically required to be used by the consumer.  Up until 2007, list used to include the deadline that the five year certification certificate expired.  Up until the summer of 2015, the list included the outmoded estimated default efficiencies, which listed all non-cats at 63%, cats at 72% and pellet stoves at 78%.  The default efficiencies were set based on testing in the mid and late 1980s, resulting in relative accurate estimates for wood stoves, but helping to develop the enduring myth that pellet stoves had such high average efficiencies.

Contact Rafael Sanchez at the EPA’s Office of Enforcement to address errors or omissions in the database, ( at (202) 564-7028.

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