On Thursday, the EPA said it would not release efficiency data on pellet stoves, one of the most popular renewable energy technologies in American homes. About one million homes use pellet stoves in the United States, yet none of the major stove manufacturers disclose the tested efficiency of their products.
The EPA recently set stricter emission standards for wood and pellet stoves, but did not require the disclosure of efficiencies of stoves currently on the market.
The Alliance for Green Heat filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the EPA on June 3, 2015 urging the agency to release stove emission and efficiency information.
In their response letter
, the EPA agreed to release detailed emission test results and other data, but denied requests for efficiency information, leaving consumers in the dark as to whether they own a 50% efficient stove or an 80% efficient stove.
Click here for a copy of the EPA letter.
The Alliance for Green Heat filed the FOIA request because stove manufacturers routinely advertise misleading and exaggerated efficiency claims
No federal or state agency requires manufacturers to use a common method of reporting stove efficiency in their promotional materials.
Most households use pellet stoves because they can save $ 500 to more than $ 2,000 per winter by using wood pellets in place of oil, propane or electricity.
However, the potential savings fluctuate widely based on the efficiency of the stove.
The EPA said they decided not to release the efficiency data because “trade secrets and commercial or financial information are exempt from being released” to the public.
Stove manufacturers claim that their efficiency information, along with almost all other data obtained from the certification testing is “confidential business information
However, the EPA left open the possibility that it might release the efficiency values if the Alliance for Green Heat wants to receive a “final confidentiality determination” that would involve giving manufacturers an opportunity to substantiate their confidentiality claims.
John Ackerly, President of the Alliance for Green Heat said that the organization intends to seek a final determination from the EPA.
“Cars, furnaces and large appliances all have to report their efficiency and energy use to the public and this is a critical part of helping consumers save money and help the environment.
Why should there be a special exemption for pellet stoves?” Ackerly asked.
“The lack of transparency on efficiency is holding this sector, as other forms of renewable energy are quickly gaining traction,” Ackerly noted.
The new EPA wood heater regulations will require manufacturers to disclosure the efficiency of new wood and pellet stoves tested after May 15, 2015.
However, stoves that are already on the market will not need to be tested for another 4-5 years and will not be required to disclose their efficiency until this time.
Many manufacturers obtain efficiency data during their EPA certification tests and include them in their test reports to the EPA, although they do not release them to the public.
The FOIA was an attempt to get the EPA to release this information that it already has in its files.
Pellet stoves have a very wide range of efficiencies and manufacturers may claim that if they released the actual efficiency of their stoves it cold cause substantial harm to their competitive position, which is one of the reasons the EPA withholds business information.
Stove manufacturers are also hesitant to disclose efficiency information to their consumers because if their efficiencies are under 75%, their product would not be eligible for a federal tax credit that has often been retroactively renewed and requires a 75% minimum efficiency. Since neither Congress, nor the IRS, nor EPA requires any standardized measure of efficiency, stove manufacturers can claim that nearly 100% of stoves on the market are 75% efficient. If the EPA were to disclose actual efficiencies, it would make it harder for manufacturers to convince consumers that all their stoves were over 75% efficient.
The number of U.S. homes with pellet stoves far outnumber those with residential solar panels by a ratio of about 2:1.
Pellet stoves typically cost $ 1,100-$ 3,500, and have a payback period of 3-7 years depending on such factors as the price of the fossil fuel being displaced, the frequency the stove is used – and its efficiency.
Posted by Earth Stove on July 19, 2014 with No Comments
Alliance for Eco-friendly Warmth, July 15, 2014 – On July 1st, the EPA unveiled a NODA – a Notice of Info Availability – consisting of knowledge from three stoves tested with cordwood and 106 stoves examined with crib wood.
|Vermont Castings combustion engineer
Doug Fongeallaz uses cord wooden to check
a stove alternatively of  Doug fir cribwood,
in accordance to the Valley News.
The NODA is a automobile for allowing individuals know the EPA is relying on this proof to make their closing rule, so events won’t be ready to say that the agency shocked them, in violation of treatment for issuing new principles, if the EPA cites it.  The NODA also supplies stakeholders a possibility to dispute the extra evidence since it was not obtainable at the time the rule was proposed.  The fact that EPA has revealed this information and the NODA in the federal register now enables EPA to depend on this info for the last rule.  It is probably that HPBA will publicly reply and a variety of makers and companies are also planning on responding.
This NODA lays a far better lawful foundation to withstand a possible lawsuit from the fireplace sector and also provides far more insight into what ultimate emission common the EPA is ready to established.
A lot of in market claim that the EPA does not have ample knowledge to established an emission normal based mostly on cordwood.
And some companies have data but are not sharing it with the EPA in an try to prevent the EPA from developing a cordwood emission common.
This new cordwood information demonstrates that some catalytic stoves can previously meet up with a one.three grams per hour normal with cordwood.
However, the non-catalytic stove performed considerably even worse with cordwood than it did with crib wood, with grams per hour of four.two on the Class IV melt away, eleven.seven on Classification III and a whopping 39.9 on Category II.
The stove was not capable to burn off at Category I, the cheapest air placing, possibly with cordwood or in the crib wood certification take a look at.  Among the 63 non-cat stove assessments launched by the EPA in the NODA, only eight of them could be analyzed at Classification 1, the reduced melt away rate.  It is is unclear how several of these 63 stoves can be operated by the consumer at a decrease burn price than they were examined at in the lab.
The info partly confirms what business has been arguing – that it really is nonetheless also early to set a cordwood regular for non-cats.  Firstly, there is way too minor publicly obtainable information, and, even if the common remained at 4.5 grams for each hour (but with cordwood), companies might not be capable to make non-cat stoves that qualify. The exceptionally large emissions from this non-cat stove could be a factor in foremost the EPA to postpone a cordwood certification common.
Presumably the EPA would need cordwood screening above the next eight many years and potentially make cordwood certification optional, although continuing to rely on crib certification.
The data also partially confirms what several air agencies have been expressing: that some stoves can conveniently satisfy a one.3 grams per hour normal, which is all that is legally essential by the EPA to meet up with the very best available engineering examination.
At the core of this situation may be the decision by EPA, not contested by HPBA, to set a one normal for cat, non-cat and pellet stoves.
There is data to display that pellet and cat stoves can meet up with a 1.three standard now, but without separating them, the non-cat stoves may delay reaping the low-emission positive aspects of individuals systems. Some producers, this sort of as Jotul, originally argued that cat and non-cat requirements must be delinked, but other people had been against delinking, which includes the Catalytic Fireside Coalition.
The Alliance for Environmentally friendly Heat and a couple of other individuals argued for a separate category for pellet stoves.  The inner politics and general public rift inside HPBA more than this concern contributed to the market association remaining silent on the situation of solitary or independent expectations for cat and non-cat stoves.  Only time will explain to if this is a successful lawful method.
An legal professional who specializes in NSPS legislation and is common with this situation says that “the EPA could, in principle, established a legally defensible emission limit for both cat and non-cat stoves that relies on emission costs that are achievable by catalytic stoves but that may not be achievable by non-cats. EPA cannot call for a specific engineering beneath section 111, but it has the discretion to set the emission regular at a level that has only been attained by 1 kind of technologies.  I suspect EPA would possibly win on this position if challenged, nonetheless at this early phase, this sort of predictions are still extremely speculative.  Ideally, there will be much more info details than just 2 stoves, but I do not feel that is likely to be lethal to EPA, particularly if industry is not willing or capable to generate cordwood examination info contradicting EPA’s knowledge.”
(The Alliance for Green Heat does not help a cordwood common such as 1.three grams for every hour that some cat stoves appear to be ready to meet up with, but frequently consults legal professionals to see what EPA can do.  The threat may be that no matter of the suggestions from the EPA’s stove experts primarily based in North Carolina, much more senior EPA officials in Washington could consider a significantly tougher line.)
Summary of Woodstock Soapstone stove
|Tom Morrissey, back again row, 2nd from
proper and the team that constructed the
Excellent Metal Hybrid that emits considerably less
than one.3 grams an hour with
cordwood and cribs.
Woodstock Soapstone voluntarily offered full twine and crib wood test outcomes to the EPA, something that maybe no other stove manufacturer did in the course of the NSPS method.  Woodstock Soapstone is a single of the few stove manufacturers that is not a member of HPBA and hence does not adhere to their advice and assistance on sharing information with the EPA and what positions to take on contentious NSPS concerns.
Woodstock Soapstone’s stove confirmed a quite noteworthy consistency in emissions of grams per hour amongst wire and crib wood.
Certification checks making use of crib wood created amongst .3 and 1.3 grams for every hour for the four burn prices.  R&D tests in the manufacturer’s lab with crib wood produced .four and .five
grams per hour and amongst .5 and .eight grams making use of cordwood.
Similarly, the stove confirmed large stages of consistency in effectiveness between twine and crib wooden and the certification lab and the manufacturer’s lab. Crib tests ended up amongst seventy four and 84.five% performance HHV, and among 74.2 and eighty two.3% for cordwood for all the burn rates.
Summary of catalytic stove #two
A next, unidentified producer voluntarily presented take a look at results
for 2 catalytic stoves.
A summary be aware from Gil Wood mentioned, “the check info present that these two EPA-qualified catalytic wood stoves when tested employing cordwood – and making no layout changes to alter for crib wooden compared to cordwood in the tests – have similar emissions as when they have been analyzed for the official EPA certification assessments making use of crib wood. That is, the examination knowledge present particulate emission charges (g/hr) making use of wire wood that are equal to or less than the corresponding take a look at info employing crib wood for Group 1 (minimum burn up rate) and Group four (optimum burn rate).”
The stove made amongst .3 and .8 grams for every hour for wire wooden for Classification I and IV.  A 2nd Group IV test arrived in at .eight as well.
A common non-cat stove was obtained for testing at Brookhaven Countrywide Lab that was beneath deal with EPA to take a look at cordwood in non-cats.  In accordance to the Brookhaven check report
, “the examination wire wooden was guided by draft cord wood specifications and methods under energetic improvement by ASTM.  Testing was effectively completed in Strategy 28 Categories IV, III, and II.  It was not identified attainable to achieve the Cat. I melt away fee with this fuel when the air control damper was fully shut. In this case Method 28 provides a technique for deciding regular emissions dependent on weighting the final results of the other three groups in which the stove was tested. It should be mentioned that in the earlier certification testing with crib wood, Class I procedure was also not accomplished.”
One noteworthy outcome is that this common non-cat experienced three really reproducible emission costs above a 3-day period of time.
On Cat IV, the stove produced four.two grams for each hour on Could 19th, 4.1 on May possibly 20th and 4.three on May possibly 21th for an regular of 4.two.  Reproducibility fell apart on Classification III, with burns in excess of five days creating a assortment from six.4 to 17.4 grams an hour, for an regular of eleven.7.
Group II had slightly better reproducibility when the stove was smoldering at very substantial rates of particulate matter.
It created 36-forty eight grams per hour in excess of 4 days for an average of 39 grams for each hour.
The large emission charges might partly be the end result of gas exactly where the core humidity content material was at times previously mentioned 30%, although an typical of core and shell was constantly under twenty five%.
The stove was also tested with quite higher humidity content gasoline of forty eight.4% moisture articles on a wet basis. Brookhaven identified that particulate emissions had been incredibly higher: 50.six g/hr over the operate, and eleven.8 occasions increased than the common emission fee with the drier take a look at fuel in Category IV.
The Brookhaven report concluded: “For ideal overall performance of this stove on wire wooden, some rebalancing of the major air / secondary air ratio might be needed. It is feasible as nicely that the specifics of the air damper location and the procedure for loading and the timing of the startup functions contributed to variances among twine wood and noted crib information.”
Summary of 106 stoves qualified by EPA given that 2009
The data on the 106 stoves launched in this NODA consisted of EPA accepted lab certification test reviews
conducted since 2009.
None of them contained any data about cord wooden, but this knowledge set could be extremely important if the EPA decides to keep on making use of cribwood to certify wood stoves in the 2015 NSPS.
Examination of this information set could form the basis of Phase two emission regular that is noticeably below four.5 grams for each hour.
Some specialists assume that the EPA may ultimately designate a common between two.-2.5 grams for every hour that would very likely take influence in 2020.
This knowledge established also contained effectiveness quantities that experienced not been reported anywhere prior to.
A great majority of these stoves are presumably nonetheless on the industry.
The common HHV efficiency for non-cats and pellet stoves ended up exactly the identical: 71%. Cat stoves had an typical effectiveness of seventy nine%, but the sample size of 3 stoves was extremely little.
This info set verified previous knowledge sets, that the performance selection of pellet stoves is considerably broader than wooden stoves.
These qualified pellet stoves ranged from sixty two to 80% effective with a regular deviation of 8.5, double the standard deviation of non-cats and 4 occasions the deviation of cat stoves.
Some pellet stoves on the industry have efficiencies as low as 40% and are very likely to be uncertified versions. The Alliance for Inexperienced Heat will be releasing a individual examination of these 106 stoves that also exhibits the correlation between efficiency and emissions.
The EPA is soliciting remarks on this NODA prior to July 31. To remark, click on here
Simply click listed here for a associated tale summarizing comments to the EPA about the proposed regulations.