What Consumers Need to Know about New EPA Wood Stove Rules

Updated: May 31, 2015

In the long lead-up to the EPA’s new rules on wood and pellet stoves and boilers, there have been many claims, predictions and fears.  Here is a summary of the key points in the rule that will impact you, the consumer.

The rule becomes law on Friday, May 15, 2015 but don’t expect to see many, if any, changes in your local hearth store until Jan. 1, 2016.   Scroll to the bottom to see a timeline of implementation. This rule is an NSPS – a New Source Performance Standard  – established by the EPA with input from industry, states and other stakeholders.

Wood stoves: Consumers will barely notice any change until 2020.  As of 2016, stoves must not emit more than 4.5 grams an hour of particulates and after May 15, 2020, 2 grams an hour.  The biggest near term change is that the really cheap, uncertified stoves will no longer be on the market after Jan. 1, 2016.  (These stoves, often made in China, sold for $ 300 – $ 600.)

Pellet stoves: Consumers will not notice much change here either.  As of Jan. 1, 2016 all pellet stoves will have to be certified by the EPA.  Some models are also likely to get more efficient.  In 2020, pellet stoves also have to emit no more than 2 grams an hour.  Most pellet stoves already meet the 2020 standard.

Prices: There should be no short term price rises, but in the longer term some manufacturers say their stove prices may go up $ 300 – $ 400 in 2020.  Others say their prices won’t rise at all.

Retail “sell-through” period: Retailers have until Dec. 31, 2015 to sell existing stock.  Many retailers don’t carry anything that can’t be sold under the new rules anyway. Beware of sales this summer and fall that are trying to unload inefficient stoves and boilers before its unlawful to sell them.

Existing and second hand stoves: Existing stoves are not impacted by these rules, nor is the vibrant second hand market for wood stoves. States can regulate existing and uncertified stoves and Washington and Oregon do not allow anyone to install an uncertified stove off the second hand market.  All states allow consumers to purchase and install second hand certified stoves. (How to buy a second-hand EPA certified stove.)

Corn, coal and multi-fuel stoves: Corn and coal stoves are not covered by EPA rules and can continue to be sold without any government emission regulation, so long as they don’t advertise that they can also use wood or pellets. To advertise a multi-fuel stove that can use pellets and corn, the stove has to be certified for pellets and also tested with corn.  There is no threshold for emission with corn, but stove has to also be tested with corn and that data must be submitted to the EPA.  (More on corn stoves.)

Misleading advertising: Most manufacturers have posted unverified and exaggerated efficiency claims on their brochures and websites.  The new rules specify how stove efficiency is to be tested and reported, and companies may start posting verified efficiencies by May 15, 2015. It is unknown if the EPA will crack down on the rampant exaggerated and misleading efficiency claims.  Blaze King and Seraph are only companies that provide verified, accurate efficiency numbers of all their stoves to consumers and the EPA.  Beware of any stove that advertises over 83% efficiency.  

Efficiency: There is no minimum efficiency standard, but the new rule requires efficiency testing and reporting.  To date, most companies have treated verified efficiency as confidential records. Some companies are beginning to voluntarily disclose a few efficiency numbers.

New hangtags: The EPA is getting rid of the old hang tags that consumers were accustomed to on the showroom floor.  Instead, they are issuing special, voluntary hang tags only for those stoves and boilers that already meet the stricter Step 2 standards (2 grams and hour) or that have been designed and tested with cord wood. This will help consumers more easily identify the cleaner stoves and those that are designed to be used with cordwood – the same type of fuel that consumers use.  (Currently, all stoves are tested with 2x4s and 4x4s, which burn very differently than cord wood.)

Carbon monoxide (CO): The new rules do not limit the amount of CO that can be emitted but require that it be tested and reported. As with efficiency, it is still unclear if CO levels from existing stoves will be available before 2020.

Stoves tested with cordwood: The rules set up an alternative, voluntary compliance option for Step 2 emission levels of 2.5 grams an hour for stoves tested with cord wood.  This recognizes leaders in the industry who are optimizing their stoves for using cord wood and encourages other manufacturers to follow their example.

Pellet fuel: All new pellet stoves must be tested and warrantied to use with pellets that are certified by a third party entity – either the Pellet Fuels Institute (PFI), ENplus or CANplus. Consumers will see more and more pellets certified by one of those entities, which means they meet certain quality and consistency standards.

Export stoves: US manufacturers can continue to make and sell their existing stoves that do not meet the new EPA standards in other countries.  Uncertified stoves with no emission controls or testing can be sold in most of the world.  US stove companies are also increasingly exporting to countries that have emission standards, like Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand. These stoves have to be labeled as an “export stove. May not be sold or operated within the United States.” 

Masonry Heaters: The EPA did not set emission standards for masonry heaters in this rule, but asked the Masonry Heater Association to further develop a testing standard so that they could be included in the next NSPS, which should be in 2023.

Fireplaces: The new rules do not apply to fireplaces, but there is a voluntary method for cleaner fireplaces to be tested and qualified by the EPA.  This rule does not even refer to the voluntary program, which may mean there is little interest in including fireplaces in the next NSPS.

Owners manuals: Owners manuals will be updated as of May 15, 2015.  Updated manuals will have more detail and must instruct operators how to get optimal performance from the stove or boiler.

Litigation: The deadline to file suit over this rule was May 15, 2015.  The main stove and boiler industry association, the HPBA, has indicated it will be filing suit, probably over the 2020 emission standards.  Air quality groups are joining that suit to defend it from being weakened or delayed. PFI is suing over the authority of the EPA to regulate pellet fuel.  Tulikivi is suing because they want masonry heaters to be a regulated technology.  Several other companies are also challenging the EPA in court.

Role of states: Several states have passed resolutions barring state agencies from enforcing this NSPS but the rule clearly states that it does “not impose any requirements on state and local governments.”   To date, Missouri, Michigan and Virginia have passed laws barring state enforcement, largely a symbolic gesture. A number of other states will be helping to implement and enforce the NSPS to achieve cleaner air in their states and protect consumers.

Boilers & Furnaces

Boilers: Like stoves, boilers must meet Step 1 emission limits by May 15.  Retailers can still sell older, uncertified and unqualified boilers through Dec. 31, 2015.  In 2020, they must meet stricter emission limits.  Due to a schism between domestic boiler manufacturers and those importing more advanced European technology, most test labs are not willing to test use one of EPA approved boiler test methods.  There in still uncertainty about how one boiler test method, EN3030-5, is treated under the new rule.  

Warm air furnaces: Furnaces that heat air, instead of water, got a reprieve from the EPA after intensive advocacy by industry and pressure from Congress.  Small ones have to meet Step 1 emission standards by May 15, 2016 and large ones not until May 15, 2017.

Loophole for unregulated outdoor boilers: Manufacturers of unregulated outdoor wood boilers can continue to make and sell these units for “commercial” applications.  However, one outdoor boiler company has already indicated that as long as the customer assures the dealer that the unit will be used for commercial purposes, its up to the consumer to use it as they please.

Boiler and furnace prices: Unlike stoves, options for consumers will change more, since the boiler furnace industry had not been regulated and many low-cost, low-efficiency units were on the market.  Prices – and efficiencies- are likely to rise significantly but operating costs will be significantly lower.

Moisture meters: Conventional uncertified forced air furnaces and then certified ones must come with a free moisture meter.  (Some advocates had urged all stoves to come with moisture meters.)

Comments? If you think we have omitted important information in the NSPS for consumers, please let us know at  info@forgreenheat.org.

Heated Up!

What Customers Require to Know about New EPA Wooden Stove Principles

In the prolonged guide-up to the&nbspEPA’s new guidelines on wooden and pellet stoves and boilers, there have been a lot of claims, predictions and fears. &nbspHere is a summary of the crucial factors in the NSPS that will effect you, the consumer.

The rule turns into legislation on Friday, Could 15, but will not expect to see many, if any, adjustments in your nearby hearth store until finally Jan. 1, 2016. &nbsp Scroll to the bottom to see a timeline of implementation.

Wooden stoves: Shoppers will scarcely notice any adjust right up until 2020. &nbspAs of 2016, stoves need to not emit a lot more than four.five grams and right after May fifteen, 2020, two grams an hour. &nbspThe most significant around term modify is that the actually cheap, uncertified stoves will no longer be on the market place after Jan. 1, 2016.&nbsp (These stoves, typically manufactured in China, sold for $ 300 – $ 600.)

Pellet stoves: Buyers will not discover considerably change listed here both. &nbspAs of Jan. 1, 2016 all pellet stoves will have to be accredited by the EPA.&nbsp Some designs are also very likely to get a lot more productive. &nbspIn 2020, pellet stoves also have to emit no more than two grams an hour. &nbspMost pellet stoves currently meet up with the 2020 normal.

Costs: There need to be no short time period price tag rises, but some companies say their prices may go up $ three hundred – $ four hundred in 2020.&nbsp Other folks say their prices won’t rise at all.

Retail “sell-through” period of time: Suppliers have until Dec. 31, 2015 to sell present stock.&nbsp Many stores do not carry something that can’t be offered below the new guidelines in any case. Beware of revenue this summer season and slide that are striving to unload inefficient stoves and boilers ahead of its unlawful to sell them!

Existing and next hand stoves: Existing stoves are not impacted by these principles, nor is the vibrant next hand marketplace for wooden stoves. States can regulate current and uncertified stoves and Washington and Oregon do not enable any person to set up an uncertified stove off the second hand market place.&nbsp All states enable customers to purchase and install 2nd hand licensed stoves.

Corn, coal and multi-gasoline stoves: Corn and coal stoves are not coated by EPA policies and can carry on to be marketed without any federal government emission regulation, so extended as they will not market that they can also use wood or pellets. Multi-gasoline stoves are no longer allowed.&nbsp Accredited stoves can only be marketed for the fuel that they are examined with, and there is not yet a check strategy for corn or coal.

Misleading promoting: Most companies have posted unverified and exaggerated efficiency claims on their brochures and sites.&nbsp The new principles specify how stove effectiveness is to be tested and noted, but its nonetheless mysterious if the&nbspEPA will crack down on the rampant exaggerated and misleading performance statements.&nbsp Blaze King and Seraph are only businesses that offer verified, correct performance figures of all their stoves to customers and the EPA. &nbspBeware of any stove that advertises more than 83% efficiency. &nbsp

Efficiency:&nbspThe EPA will start to demand effectiveness tests and reporting, but ninety five% of existing stoves will not have to be examined until 2020, so handful of stoves will be required to publish performance quantities.&nbsp To day, most organizations nonetheless deal with confirmed efficiency as private documents.

New hangtags: The EPA is receiving rid of the aged hang tags that consumers have been accustomed to on the showroom ground.&nbsp Instead, they are issuing particular, voluntary cling tags only for those stoves and boilers that presently meet the stricter Step 2 specifications (2 grams and hour) or that have been made and analyzed with cord wood. This will support shoppers far more effortlessly recognize the cleaner stoves and people that are made to be used with cordwood – the same variety of gas that customers use.&nbsp (At present, all stoves are analyzed with 2x4s and 4x4s, which burn off very differently than wire wood.)

Carbon monoxide (CO): The new principles do not limit the quantity of CO that can be emitted but call for that it be analyzed and documented. As with effectiveness, it is nonetheless unclear if CO levels from existing stoves will be obtainable before 2020.

Stoves examined with cordwood: The policies established up an option, voluntary compliance option for Stage two emission stages of 2.five grams an hour for stoves examined with twine wood. &nbspThis recognizes leaders in the industry who are optimizing their stoves for using twine wooden and encourages other producers to follow their case in point.

Export stoves: US producers can continue to make and promote stoves with no emission controls or tests to nations that even now let this.&nbsp These stoves have to be labeled as an “export stove. Could not be offered or operated within the United States.”&nbsp

Litigation: The deadline to file match over this rule is Might fifteen, 2015. &nbspThe major stove and boiler industry association, the HPBA, has indicated it will be filing suit, most likely above the cost usefulness of the 2020 emission requirements. &nbspAir quality or environmental groups might also sue, claiming the new specifications are as well lax. Our lawful professionals say that a go well with from both aspect would be hard to acquire.

Boilers &amp Furnaces

Boilers: Like stoves, boilers must fulfill Stage one emission boundaries by Might 15. &nbspRetailers can still offer more mature, uncertified and unqualified boilers through Dec. 31, 2015. &nbspIn 2020, they have to fulfill stricter emission limitations. &nbspDue to a schism between domestic boiler manufacturers and people importing far more superior European technologies, most examination labs are not willing to take a look at the imported units. &nbspThey may possibly face limitations to turning out to be certified by Jan. one, 2016.

Warm air furnaces: Furnaces that heat air, instead of water, got a reprieve from the EPA after intense advocacy by industry and force from Congress. &nbspSmall types have to satisfy Step 1 emission standards by May 15, 2016 and big kinds not until finally May 15, 2017.

Value: As opposed to stoves, possibilities for consumers will adjust much more, since the boiler furnace market had not been controlled and a lot of low-cost, lower-performance models were on the market place. &nbspPrices – and efficiencies- are likely to rise substantially but running fees will be significantly lower.

Humidity meters: Furnaces have to appear with a free dampness meter as of Jan. 1, 2016. &nbsp(Some advocates experienced urged all stoves to appear with moisture meters.)&nbsp

Heated Up!

Men and women who use wooden stoves speak out about the EPA’s new principles

These brief testimonies of why men and women assist much better emission expectations are a moving tribute to the value of wood heating in America. &nbspThese responses had been remaining by folks who signed the petition to help stricter emission principles for stoves. &nbspAfter studying these responses, you should think about joining

them and signal the petition your self!

These feedback, with hundreds of other folks, will be submitted to the EPA during the public comment time period for the proposed guidelines, which ends on Might 5, 2014.

George Wollenburg&nbspELK RIVER, MN

Trying to keep the burning of renewable fuels as clean as possible will guarantee they stay as element of our vitality resolution. I reside in an location the place high quality firewood is plentiful and burning wood keeps my power costs lower.

Anne Bornholdt&nbspQUINLAN, TX
This getting the only resource of heat for our home I want it to be clear burning and productive and assume the solution I use meet these standards.

Vito labella&nbspSTATEN ISLAND, NY
Wooden heat is critical to the doing work inadequate. Let us obvious the smoke and make an cost-effective wood stove for people that need the heat!

My vocation was designing stoves, wooden burning largely. These new standards are very achievable to accomplish. Any manufacture should and can do it. Much better and successful appliances also indicate significantly less wooden and fuss. Challenging to conquer!
Wood can be an important supply of heat in numerous components of the region and can be environmentally sound if you use a low emitting stove. I completely help these expectations.

Sat Jiwan Ikle-Khalsa&nbspTAKOMA PARK, MD
It truly is been lengthy overdue to increase the efficiency and emissions specifications of America’s amount a single renewable power. Let us make thoroughly clean, cost-effective, renewable power accessible to all!
David Straus&nbspGARDINER, NY
The environment and its safety are completely required for our, our kids, and all future generations. The new laws will support insure this sort of protection.
Ronald Browder&nbspAWENDAW, SC
A fantastic way to warmth houses with a renewable resource. The cleaner the far better.

Janet Pearson&nbspOLYMPIA, WA
For those of us in states prosperous with trees, wooden stoves can be an important and sustainable source of warmth.
Yvette Tillema&nbspKEENE, NY
This is important because we must do all we can to consider treatment of our well being and the planets health. Get income out of politics and allow the very good distribute like magic.

I reside in the outskirts of a main city location, but numerous homes in my neighborhood warmth with wood stoves for various reasons. As self-sustainability becomes much more integrated into the city life-style, we are unable to rely on each personal to make the greatest selections when it will come to clean air. As significantly as I value the rights of the person, it has been established time and time once more to not be always be in my greatest desire. At occasions, governance is essential, and I firmly believe this is one particular of people occasions.
William HunterMAKANDA, IL
Best available info I have seen show that we are on the way to a worldwide environmental catastrophe. I want to do whatsoever I can to assist avoid that. Cleaner burning wood stoves is a small element of the resolution that I can lead to.
John Cleary HAMMOND, LA
I melt away wooden for my warmth but also imagine that I am liable to aid preserve the integrity of “Spaceship Earth” for cleanse air.
Mary Jane Dillingham POLAND, ME
At my previous property, we have been severely negatively affected by our neighbor’s outdoor wooden boiler. At the time there were no lawful ways to quit our unwilling neighbor from engulfing our property in smoke. We suffered respiratory issues and our farm animals required medial consideration. Our home was consistently accosted with particulates deposited on the surface area of the buildings and grounds. We had a horse farm and hay fields. Please do what you can to end soiled discharges from outside wood boilers. Thank you. Mary Jane Dillingham, Maine
Steve Parks BOWLER, WI
Here in north central Wisconsin, wooden stoves, furnaces and boilers are far more popular than at any time. Sadly, the easy way to know this is travel close to and rely the properties with the thick dim cloud billowing from a smoke stack, day in and day out. Likely on fifty many years, autos have been receiving more and more emission efficient, it really is large time wood and pellet stoves do the exact same to preserve our wooden sources and what is remaining of our atmosphere.
Our children are subjected to sufficient substances in our foods they will not have to struggle thoroughly clean air also. I consider that this is easy adequate for us to attain.
Timothy Leach CASTINE, ME
I have employed wooden to dietary supplement heating our house and as back-up warmth in electricity outages for in excess of 30 years. Wooden warmth is a fantastic resource of renewable strength
I am a grandmother who would like to go away a healthy atmosphere to my grandchildren and outside of.
Lewis Thibodeau CLAREMONT, NH
It is essential for all industries to get obligation for their affect on wellness, the surroundings, and productive use of normal methods and to innovate to that finish. The wooden warmth business is guiding in this when in contrast to other industries. I have had the privilege to operate in a lab environment testing technologies solutions that generate clear and productive results. I know that it is achievable and has clear and thrilling possible to grow to be even much better. It is time to make the gamers in the market stage up to the problem since it is the right point to do for wellness reasons, environmental reasons, and in the very best prolonged-phrase curiosity of the business.
Harold Garabedian MONTPELIER, VT

Ongoing progress on lowering emissions and rising efficiency is vital to making certain that the industry grow permitting household wooden burning is not marginalized to rural purposes and is allowed to make a better contribution to America’s use of local renewable vitality.

Stephen Dutton SPANISH FORK, UT
No only does the technologies make the air cleaner, but what I see as the even far more crucial and advantageous cause is you get much more warmth out of the wood you melt away therefore you burn off significantly less wood! Wood is a significantly far better supply of heat than property heating oil which is awful things to handle. Ever listen to of a wood spill? Almost everything about wooden is good.
Erik Henrikson MILFORD, MA
I assist this as it is “the appropriate point to do” – clean burning stoves are not just very good for air high quality but they minimize waste (a lot more warmth in the residence for the wood). Nonetheless, effort needs to be manufactured to encourage folks to melt away thoroughly clean – even a very good stove can pollute if burned improperly.
Gerald &amp Barbara Cooper SPRINGFIELD, NH
Cleaner wooden stove technologies indicates a lot more BTUs of warmth in my residing area and significantly less particulates in my lungs!
Louise Clark KETCHIKAN, AK
Very good wooden warmth is by considerably the greatest most cozy warmth there is exceptional in each and every way to burning fossil fuels, which only ruin our earth from its extraction to its burning interval.
Judy Gibson COLUMBIA, MO
I paid out a lot more for my stove and soon after nine a long time of use a expert chimney sweep came to cleanse our double-walled stainless metal chimney and went absent stating, “There is nothing at all there to clear”. We always burn up seasoned hardwood but took no other safety measures on a every day foundation.
Paul Theorgood MAYS LANDING, NJ

Due to the fact the general public health rewards outweigh the fees of compliance.
Peter Tamposi NASHUA, NH
Require to provide 20th century technology into the woodstove company.
Jim Norton Halfway, UT
I am a believer in thoroughly clean air and free of charge renewable methods to warmth my property.

Cleaner burning woodstoves = less fossil gas use and much more cash remaining in the neighborhood economic system for gas expenses, as well as increased ‘burn for the buck’ and reduced emissions. Greatest of all possible worlds.

Heated Up!

4 Myths About the EPA’s Proposed Wood Stove Regulations

In the weeks since the EPA unveiled their new regulations on residential wood heaters, many myths are starting to circulate in the right-wing media about what they mean.  It’s sometimes hard to tell if the authors are intentionally spreading misleading information about the regulations, or they simply haven’t done enough research to know that they are spreading rumors.  Probably some of both. 
Next week we will be taking a look at the language used by some environmental activists who want much broader bans on wood heating.  And sometimes it’s hard to tell who is on the right and who is on the left.  One off-grid newsletter was touting the benefits of unpasteurized milk, organic vegetable gardens – and the evils of the EPA who cozy up to big business and threaten our freedom to live healthy lives.
After reading quite a few of the articles decrying the wood stove regulations, it’s clear that they are feeding off one another and often quoting one another.  Many of the articles are from small fringe groups and websites, but some are from mainstream ones like Forbes and from ideologues at think tanks like the Heartland Institute. Here are some of the most common myths in the making:
1.     The “EPA Banned 80% of Wood Stoves” Myth: “Only weeks after the EPA effectively banned 80 percent of the wood-burning stoves money-saving Americans use to heat their homes, the attorneys general of seven states are suing to force the agency to crack down on wood-burning water heaters.”  That the EPA is banning 80% of stoves has appeared in numerous headlines, and refers to the estimate that 80% of stoves currently on the market do not meet the new standards that will come into play 5 to 8 years from now.  True, the EPA will “ban” the production of those models 5 to 8 years from now, but those articles often do not clarify that existing stoves are not affected and are grandfathered.  This writer also confused the timeline and nature of the EPA’s proposed regulations and the lawsuit.
2.     The “Replacement Isn’t Allowed” Myth: “Older stoves that don’t [meet new standards] cannot be traded in for updated types, but instead must be rendered inoperable, destroyed, or recycled as scrap metal.”   Another article simplified this by saying “trading in an old stove for a newer stove isn’t allowed.”  This nugget of misinformation started by quoting language about trade-out programs and then got applied to the new EPA stove regulations. 
      The “Sue and Settle” Myth: This is but another example of EPA … working with activist environmental groups to sue and settle on claims that afford leverage to enact new regulations which they [EPA] lack statutory authority to otherwise accomplish.”  With a wink, wink, the Federal agencies encourage outside groups to file suit against some perceived flaw in the way we live.”Such lawsuits … are nothing but an opportunity for the courts to take power and authority from the legislative and executive branches of the government since the courts supervise the settlements. It’s a way the courts can become another legislature.”  “This collusive lawsuit is intended to expand EPA authority to stop burning wood.”
Part of this is sheer myth and part is a skewed analysis of what is going on.  First of all, the EPA has statutory authority already given to it by the US Congress in the Clean Air Act of 1970 (under Richard Nixon) that was updated in 1990 (under George H.W. Bush).  The agency does not need to expand its powers and, for example, has the authority to regulate fireplaces but is choosing not to use that power.  Second, the lawsuit filed by 7 states and another by 5 environmental groups has nothing to do with the merits of the regulation, but only to force the EPA to issue regulations and not keep delaying them.  (The industry trade group, the HPBA, is also now a party to that suit.)  True, the states and groups suing are ones that want much stricter regulations; however, their influence on the regulations preceded their lawsuit and happened during 2012–2013 when they realized that the EPA was going to propose far less strict regulations. It was believed by many that the EPA had become too close to industry and too dependent on industry expertise and data during a time that the EPA didn’t have enough of their own resources to do necessary testing and research. 
4.     The “EPA Will Force People to Buy New Stoves” Myth: “Low- and middle-class families living primarily in rural areas may be forced to spend thousands of dollars to switch to newer units or use more expensive forms of energy in order to stay warm.”  No matter how often the EPA says that existing units are grandfathered and not impacted, this myth was going to gain traction.  There may be some local areas that pass “sunset” laws, like in Tacoma-Pierce County, Washington, where use of old, uncertified stoves will not be allowed as of Jan. 1, 2015.  But low-income families are often exempted, or provided funding to trade up.  Most people assume that this will add some cost to most new stoves (estimates range between $ 100 and $ 1,000) and that low-income families will be even more likely to buy and install an old, uncertified stove rather than buying a new one.  This is a legitimate issue and will undoubtedly get lots of public attention over the next year.
The EPA expects to issue final regulations in 2015.  Watch for a new round of myths to arise then.
For a sample of one of the more mainstream mythmaking articles, click here.

Heated Up!

Widespread Questions and Responses about Wood Heating

Prepared for the Wood Stove Design Challenge by the Alliance for Green Heat
November 1, 2013
Q. How clean can wood heat get?
A. Residential wood and pellet heating is getting cleaner and has the potential to become far cleaner still.  The difference between a clean stove and a dirty stove is partially how it the operator uses it.  One of the main motivations behind the Wood Stove Design Challenge is to encourage more automation so that stoves are more assured to run clean, despite the operator’s behavior.  EPA regulations are likely to require wood stoves to be far cleaner five years from now, but they will still be vulnerable to misuse in the hands of consumers unless innovation can begin to mitigate that problem.

Q. How many homes use wood heat and where are they?
A. There are about 12 million households that heat wood and pellet stoves of which about 2.3% use it as a primary or sole heat source.  The top 10 states that have Congressional districts with the highest number of wood and pellet heaters are, in descending order: Maine, Vermont, Arizona, Michigan, Montana, California, Wisconsin, Oregon, New Mexico and New York. The large majority of wood heaters are in rural and suburban areas.  US Census data shows that only 3% of homes that use wood as a primary heating source are in urban areas. 39% were in suburban areas and 58% were in rural areas. 
Q. Does the Alliance for Green Heat support incentives for stoves?
A. Yes, we especially advocate for incentives and rebates for the cleanest pellet stoves, but smart incentives can also be designed for wood stoves. Maine and Oregon have innovative incentive programs for stoves that include efficiency criteria. And, Maryland has a model program that gives incentives for the cleanest stoves to families who heat with oil, propane or electricity.  Since almost all urban and suburban homes in Maryland have access to gas, this focuses new installations in rural areas and helps those families with the highest heating bills to access a more affordable and renewable fuel. More info.
Q. Does the Alliance for Green heat ever support banning new installations of wood stoves?
A. Yes. A number of major urban areas, such as Denver and valley towns that experience weather inversions that trap smoke have banned the new installation of wood stoves and we support that.  We believe that air quality agencies only ban the new installation of wood stoves when other measures are not practical, affordable or effective enough.  However, some areas have air quality problems with wood smoke because they have neglected the issue and could have managed it better in past years so that a ban may not be necessary.  We almost always support allowing the very cleanest pellet stoves to be installed. 
Q. Where does the wood come from?
A. Several studies, including one from the USDA, say that the majority of people who heat their wood harvest or gather it themselves.  Many cut live, dead or downed wood from their own land or from nearby state or federal land that allow firewood gathering.  Firewood vendors are often tree trimmers, or they buy logs from commercial loggers that were not marketable as saw logs for lumber.
Q. How can we know that firewood is sustainably harvested?
A. Because most of it is gathered by the homeowner, or sold by very small mom and pop operations, most firewood comes from very small-scale, decentralized operations that are unlikely to pose significant sustainability issues.  The only report we have seen of significant unsustainable practices came from an operation in California that was making bundled, kiln dried firewood packaged that could be transported nationally and is mostly used in fireplaces, not wood stoves.
Q. Isn’t wood heating likely to continue its historic decline since the 1930?
A. No, wood is experiencing a significant comeback.  When the Census started tracking wood heating in 1950, more than half of homes heated with coal and nearly a quarter with wood.  Wood and coal heating declined drastically (with coal continuing its decline and heating less than .1% of homes nationally) and wood bottomed out in 1970 when only 1.3% of homes used it as a primary heating fuel. Wood spiked after the 1973 oil embargo to 4% of homes nationally, and today is at 2.3%.  Wood use is closely tied to prices of competing fuels, and rises in oil, propane and electricity prices can move many homes back to wood. More info.
Q. Isn’t heating with wood simply too much work and too messy for most people?
A. Urban populations tend to avoid wood heating, but nationally wood and pellets are the fastest growing heating fuel between 2000 and 2013, according to the US Census.  Using wood pellets offers a much easier, cleaner and more automated option and modern more efficient wood stoves use far less wood. In rural areas, wood heating has great resilience because wood is so abundant, affordable and many people enjoy it as a heat source.
Q. How many people could sustainably heat with wood or pellets?
A. We think 5 – 10% of American homes could heat with wood or pellets as a primary fuel, compared to the 2.3% who use it as a primary fuel today.  While we think the number of homes using wood or pellets for primary heating could double or triple in the next 5 – 10 years, it could also cause rises in the prices of pellets and cordwood which have been more stable than fossil fuel prices.  In Vermont, about 15% of homes already use wood or pellets as a primary source of heat and about 50% use it as a secondary source of heat.   The limiting factor is emissions now, not availability of wood.  A rapid rise of pellet heating would be much more manageable than a rapid rise in wood, unless a new breed of automated wood stoves could operate more consistently in the emission range of cleaner pellet stoves.
Q. How clean are certified stoves compared to older, uncertified ones?
A. Average emissions from older, uncertified stoves are around 20 – 30 grams per hour and average emissions for EPA certified stoves are about 3 – 4 grams per hour. The problem is exacerbated because for every certified stove there are still 3 uncertified ones in operation. However, these are emissions based on lab tests using seasoned wood.  In the hands of consumers, certified stoves can burn dirtier than uncertified ones if the homeowner uses unseasoned wood, does not give the stove enough air and/or doesn’t use enough kindling to get a hot fire started quickly. 
Q. How much energy do wood and pellet stoves make in a year? And compared to solar?
A. Space heating by wood and pellet stoves make almost 10% of all residential space heating in the US per year, according to the EIA.  The EIA’s 2013 Annual Energy Outlook says wood and pellets made .45 quadrillion Btus per year for space heating, which is more than propane and almost as much as heating oil for space heating.   One reason that wood stoves save consumers so much money is that aside from the cost of fossil heating fuels, the fans and pumps on our fossil fuel furnaces and boilers consumer .13 quadrillion Btus a year, as much as all washing machines and dishwashers in the US.  Wood and pellet heating make 40% of the energy made by ethanol used in gasoline blending, according to the EIA, without virtually any subsidies. In a more relevant comparison, wood and pellets make .45 quadrillion Btus per year for residential space heating and solar panels make the equivalent of .15 quadrillion Btus for residential electric use, again without any significant subsidy.  See EIA report here.
Q. If wood and pellet stoves make so much more energy than residential solar without subsidies, why is there so little policy focus?
A. Existing wood stoves are widely seen as not clean enough to incentivize in a broad way, but the lack of policy focus and incentives on pellet stoves and boilers is more difficult to explain.  Generally, the lack of policy focus at the federal and state level has hindered technology advancement.  In Europe, wood and pellet heating receive much more policy, incentive and R&D parity with other renewables.  In Italy alone, 1.7 million high efficiency pellet stoves have been installed since 2012 compared to less than 100,000 in the US. The absence of an Energy Star program, a green label or even any requirement to measure and report efficiency, leaves manufacturers with few incentives to build extremely clean and efficient appliances and leaves the public with virtually no way of knowing which appliance will save them more money. For more.
Q. What types of technology will be at the Decathlon?
A. The Decathlon will feature several distinct kinds of technology that will be competing against each other.  There are 3 masonry stoves, whose designs originate centuries ago but have been finely tuned in recent years.  There are 2 somewhat similar hybrid stoves that mix secondary and catalytic combustion systems and have among the very lowest emissions and highest efficiency of existing EPA certified stoves. Four stoves are controlled electronically through oxygen and/or temperature sensors.  One is a German downdraft model and one is a modified dragon stove design.  There will also be a range of innovative stoves, equipment and components in the exhibition area.
Q. If automated wood stoves are practical and so much cleaner, why aren’t they already on the market?
A. A few of them are, but so far the sensors and automated technologies are still mostly confined to the high-efficiency indoor wood boilers made in Europe and starting to be made in the US.  The next step is moving that technology from the basement to the living room.  Here is one analysis as to why American stove manufacturers have been resistant to integrating automation.
Q. What do mainstream environmental groups think about wood heating?
A. Most of the big environmental groups do not have much informational or policy focus on wood stoves, if any at all.  There are regional groups that have mobilized around the pollution from outdoor wood boilers, an incredibly low-tech, high impact technology that is often very polluting.  And there is a now a campaign being run by the Dogwood Alliance and NRDC against using wood for electricity and especially against exporting wood pellets to Europe to make electricity.  The Environmental Defense Fund recently joined in a suit to require the EPA to expeditiously promulgate their new residential wood heating regulations. 
Q. Shouldn’t the focus should be on replacing older, uncertified stoves and on changing them out for newer, certified stoves?
A. Partly.  Changeout programs can be very effective, especially in small valley towns, where every single wood stove makes a difference in the local airshed. Regulations banning the installation of exempt, uncertified or unqualified units are also very effective and should be a precondition to change out programs.  We also think regulations requiring new stoves to meet stricter emissions requirements are equally important.  More info.
Q. What do new EPA regulations hold in store for wood stoves?
A. The EPA is in the process of promulgating new regulations for residential equipment for the first time since 1988.  Currently, the regulations are undergoing review at the OMB.  Recently, a group of states and environmental groups sued the EPA to ensure that these regulations were not delayed.  One of the biggest positive impacts is that it will end the exempt categories such as outdoor wood boilers and some wood stoves, which have not been regulated.  Wood and pellet stoves are likely going to be required to meet a 4.5 gram an hour standard as of late 2014 and down to a 1.3 gram an hour after 5 years.  More info.
Q. Is there a shift by consumers away from wood stoves and toward pellet stoves?
A. Yes. In 1999, pellet stoves only had an 11% market share and today its closer to 40%, on average.  However, with rural lower income families, wood stoves are still the most popular because families harvest or collect all of some of their fuel on their own, and do not have to pay for it.  For more.
Q. Is there any pending federal legislation that would impact wood heating?
A. Yes. The Biomass Thermal Utilization (BTU) Act of 2013 (S. 1007, H.R. 2715).  The Act would give a 30% tax credit for the installation of wood or pellet stoves or boilers that are 75% efficiency using higher heating value (HHV).  This would likely include up to 25% of existing wood and pellet stoves.  Co-sponsors: Senators King (I-ME), Collins, (R-ME), Shaheen (D-NH), Franken (D-MN), Merkley (D-OR), and Sanders (I-VT), and Representatives Michaud (D-ME2), Welch (D-VT), Gibson (NY-19), Kuster (NH-2), Nolan (MN-8), and Owens (NY-21).  More info and analysis.
Q. Are there any existing federal or state incentives for wood and pellet stoves now?
A. Yes, there is a federal tax credit of $ 300.  More info. And the following states have rebates, tax credits or tax deductions: Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Montana and Oregon. In addition, Massachusetts and New Hampshire have incentives for pellet boilers. More info here and here.

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Misconceptions About Pellet Stove Efficiencies Persist Calendar year after Calendar year

Alliance for Green Heat, Oct. 2, 2013 – For years, scores of sites have getting making use of details from the Office of Power stating that pellet stoves have effectiveness ratings of seventy eight% – eighty five% and are exempt from EPA emission tests. Many other web sites say pellet stoves are exempt from emission tests simply because they are so clean to start with.&nbsp This has been handed down above the many years by suppliers, the media, sector websites and non-profits.&nbsp The only difficulty is, it is merely not true.

Pellet stoves are just like wood stoves: emissions rules ended up developed to certify them and there are ways to continue to be exempt from those regulations, like allowing an air to gasoline ratio of 35 to 1 or higher.&nbsp The vintage technology with a enormous air to gas ratio is the fire, and its the main purpose why fireplaces are so inefficient.&nbsp If a wooden or pellet stove is exempt since it has a high air to fuel ratio, its also heading to be considerably less effective, but in the scenario of a pellet stove, it might only be 5 – twenty% considerably less efficient, and even now in the 50 – 70% effectiveness selection.
To incorporate to the confusion, the EPA assigned an estimated default efficiency of 78% for pellet stoves, but no a single has reminded customers that the default effectiveness only applies to EPA licensed stoves, and not the uncertified ones, which are a vast majority of pellet stoves on the industry.&nbsp Specialists agree that exempt stoves are likely to be considerably less effective than accredited stoves, but no one urges customers to purchase EPA qualified pellet stoves to get increased efficiencies, as they do for wooden stoves.
Most pellet stoves aren’t EPA certified because they use a loophole to keep away from certification, just like some wooden stove producers have carried out.&nbsp That loophole permits pellet stoves with extreme airflow to avoid certification. &nbspAnd that abnormal airflow by means of the combustion chamber and up the stack drastically lowers effectiveness.&nbsp To complicate things more, several pellet stoves have not tested to be licensed, or examined to be exempt.&nbsp They are just on the market and its unclear if they have a 35 to one air ratio or not.
The EPA’s Pellet Stove Reality Sheet suggests, “Systems are employed to guarantee the ideal fuel‐to‐air ratio in the combustion chamber so that the fuel can burn fully”. The EPA simple fact sheet cited HBPA, the business association brochure as their supply.&nbsp In simple fact the opposite is often accurate due to the fact EPA regulation permits for much less than optimum fuel to air ratio as a way to steer clear of certification.
The DOE webpage on pellet stoves has heaps of great data, but on this crucial stage, it perpetuates another myth – that pellet stoves are so thoroughly clean that they don’t want to be licensed.&nbsp The DOE claims, with combustion efficiencies of 78% to eighty five%, they are also exempt from EPA smoke-emission tests requirements”.&nbsp That fantasy is becoming recurring on scores of prominent sector and independent web sites.
Nearly each pellet stove professional agrees that it is unwise to count on efficiencies posted by manufacturers, because they are not essential to test and record efficiencies in the exact same way and figures are often not created by third social gathering testing services.&nbsp The EPA listof certified wood and pellet stoves has just lately started out to record true efficiencies, in addition to the default efficiencies.&nbsp Many of concerns will be solved in eighteen – 24 months from now, when the EPA will probably begin demanding for the very first time, third party, persistently measured efficiency numbers on stove labels. &nbspAnd, the EPA will get rid of the loopholes that let for uncertified wood and pellet stoves to be sold on the market place.
Buyers are also supplied exaggerated effectiveness quantities by several if not most pellet stove producers simply because they report utilizing LHV numbers, as an alternative of HHV types, but they don’t tell the buyer that they use LHV.
The DOE and EPA need to do considerably far more to motivate people to switch from wooden to pellet stoves simply because they are persistently considerably cleaner and a extremely efficient way to drastically minimize fossil fuels.&nbsp They need to also support buyers realize what stoves the default efficiencies implement to, and why other individuals can be exempt from certification.&nbsp In the meantime, shoppers ought to think about acquiring EPA qualified pellet stoves if they want to make sure higher effectiveness stove, whether it is wooden or pellet.
Virtually each and every gas calculator lists pellet stoves at 78% effectiveness with out telling them that this only applies to EPA certified pellet stoves.&nbsp The regular pellet stove is probably about 70% effective, and could even be decrease than the regular of EPA licensed wood stoves.&nbsp Making use of gas calculators to see how considerably you can save switching from fossil fuel to pellets is difficult if you cannot get a reputable thrid-celebration effectiveness ranking on a pellet stove. &nbspNo one is aware how a lot of customers unwittingly purchased pellet stoves that could not even be sixty% effective.&nbsp

For far more client data on how to decide on an effective stove, simply click listed here.

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