Coal Heating in the United States

By John Ackerly & Melissa Bollman
Alliance for Green Heat

This paper was prepared for the Warsaw Stove Summit which brought AGH and scores of experts in coal and wood heating from 19 countries to Poland in May 2017.

Summary
The US Census Bureau estimates that approximately 127,000 households used coal as a primary heating fuel in 2015, or about 0.1% of American homes. Residential coal heating dropped rapidly until 2000 and since then has been relatively stable.

More than half of homes using coal heat are concentrated in Pennsylvania and New York, right where it is mined. It appears to be based on cultural traditions and local support for local jobs because its still a very inexpensive way to heat and easy to transport. Most of the United States has no restrictions on coal heating and there have been few attempts to restrict it. Rather, it seems to have gradually died out except in pockets of states where anthracite is mined. Bituminous and sub-bituminous coal is much more widely dispersed but it is used far less than anthracite.

Coal stoves, particularly those fueled with anthracite coal that principally comes form Pennsylvania, typically have less particular matter than wood or possibly even pellet stoves. However, their health impacts may be far worse, as coal often emits high levels of SO2 and oxides from nitrogen.  In addition, coal often has poisonous toxins such as flourine, arsenic, selenium, mercury and lead.  For more on health impacts of coal and wood heating in the US and Europe, we excerpted key parts of a World Health Organization report here.

Who heats with coal and why?

Homes that heat with coal tend to be concentrated near anthracite coal mines and in homes with lower or mid level incomes. In the wealthier and more urban counties of Pennsylvania that are within 100 miles of anthracite mines, virtually no households heat with coal. High use of coal heat does not correlate with high use of wood heat. Both coal and wood are favored by rural, lower-income populations but coal appears to be favored near anthracite mines, and wood is favored in nearby, rural counties, according to data from the US census. The highest percentage of homes heating with coal at the county level is about 13%.

A prominent 2008 New York Times article reported that residential coal heating was on the rise, but rise was modest, and petered out a few years later. That rise corresponded with a major recession from 2007 – 2009 during which rates of wood heat soared far higher than coal. The New York Times also reported that an additional 80,000 homes use coal as a secondary heat source and the US Census reported 104,000 used it as a secondary heat source in 2005. Only 4,000 homes use it to cook with and 22,000 used it to heat domestic hot water in 2005, according to the US Census.


In 2015, the top five states for residential coal heating were Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Indiana. Over 50% of US homes that heat primarily with coal are located in Pennsylvania, where anthracite coal is mined.

The primary benefits of heating with coal, compared to wood, is 1. it burns for longer periods of time, so less reloading is needed and a home can easily stay warm overnight; 2. Like pellets, it can be delivered in bags on pallets by a forklift, and does not need the time consuming splitting, stacking and seasoning that cordwood needs; 3. It is even more inexpensive per BTU (assuming you don’t cut the wood yourself); and 4. It is a very dense fuel, and takes up half the space that the same amount of wood takes, per BTU.

The downside of heating with coal is 1. The odor, which most people find moderately unpleasant; 2. The black dust which is harder to clean than dirt and wood pieces from cordwood; and 3. Its hard to light, requiring most people to start the fire with wood, before switching to coal.

While the above pros and cons are widely agreed upon, other less tangible factors play a role. Coal has increasingly gained a stigma as a dirty, non-renewable fuel, whereas wood is regarded as far more environmentally friendly (even though particulate matter from wood can be equally high). On the other hand, the dwindling economic prospects of coal towns and counties tends to make those populations want to support the fuel to combat what they often see as an unfair bias against coal.

Coal and coal stoves

Coal stoves are either stokers or batch. Stokers automatically feed coal pellets (much like pellet stoves) into the stove, require electricity and only use anthracite. Batch stoves are loaded by hand and can take anthracite or bituminous.

Most coal used for heating in the US is anthracite but anecdotal estimates by experts say that no more than 25% is bituminous, primarily in areas where its abundant.

The EIA stopped collecting data on residential coal consumption in 2008. In 2007, the EIA reported that US residents consumed 353,000 short tons (320,171 metric tons) of coal, which represented only 0.03% of the nation’s annual coal use (1.1 billion short tons or around 1 billion metric tons). The overwhelming majority of course (93%) of US coal is used to generate electricity.

Usually coal is sold in 40 or 50 pound bags or by the ton. Coal may be sold directly to consumers from the mine, a fuel supplier, or a hardware store. Blaschak is one of the largest suppliers of bagged anthracite coal and sold 374,000 tons in 2014. Forty pound bags of anthracite coal (any size) from Pennsylvania usually run $ 6-$ 8. A ton of anthracite typically costs between $ 190 and $ 210 per ton, before delivery charges (which can increase price to $ 250-$ 300). One fuel seller, Central Maine Coal, sells about 200 short tons (181 metric tons) of residential coal per heating season.

Bituminous coal is usually considered a better coal for blacksmithing than heating, but can be burned in some coal stoves and is often only $ 80-$ 100 per ton.

Institutional heating with coal is somewhat relevant to residential coal heating and data indicates that institutional coal heating is declining much more rapidly that residential heating.

According to the EIA, US educational institutions consumed 700,000 short tons (634,900 metric tons) of coal in 2015, down from 2 million short tons (1.8 metric tons) in 2008. Twenty of the 57 US educational institutions that used coal in 2008 reported not using it 2015 due to sustainability initiatives. It is likely that most of the coal consumed at educational institutions is used to generate heat. Most US schools no longer heat with coal. Recent (2015-2016) news articles report that only five public schools heat with coal in West Virginia and four schools heat with coal in Cumberland, Maryland. One of the Maryland schools uses 517 tons of coal annually at a cost of $ 120 per ton.

Coal stove companies

Most coal stoves are made in Pennsylvania except for one big producer, Hitzer stoves located in eastern Indiana. Sales of coal stoves are reported to average 4,000 to 7,000 a year, but in 2008 they may have topped 10,000. In comparison, about 140,000 wood stoves are sold each year. There are about a dozen companies making coal stoves and one notable trend is that the larger wood stove companies are getting out of the coal stove business. Vermont Castings, Harman and Moreso used to sell coal stoves and now don’t. The one company that still focuses on both fuels is US Stove Company, based in Tennessee. Coal stoves cost about the same as wood stoves and range between $ 2,000 – $ 3,500.

Stove policy

Coal stoves remain exempt from EPA emission regulations. Coal stoves have never had a certification program at the EPA or at any state level, although the federal government and some states have indicated an interest in developing emission regulations. Regulation would likely drive up the cost of coal stoves and may reduce sales of coal stoves but other strategies may reduce their use faster and more economically. But without emission regulations, there is little data on coal stove emissions from various types of coal stoves, and there is little incentive for stove companies to try to produce cleaner stoves. Tests conducted in the 1980s suggested that wood stoves emitted higher levels of particulate matter than anthracite stoves, but lower levels than bituminous stoves (Houck, 2009). Of course, wood emits fewer other toxic chemicals than coal.

One significant policy change in 2015 was the ban on advertising dual coal/wood use in stoves unless the stove was certified with wood, and the company also tested for coal emissions and provided that data to the EPA. To our knowledge, no company has done this so no stove should advertise the ability to burn wood and coal any more.

The EPA is currently funding research on coal emissions and has developed an unofficial, draft test method at Robert Ferguson’s lab. However, this is being undertaken only because of an EPA program to change out coal stoves on the Navajo Indian reservation, not because it has any apparent mandate or serious plan to start regulating coal stoves.

It is unlikely under the Trump administration that any certification program would be initiated by the EPA, and the only state with enough coal stoves to justify the effort would be Pennsylvania, which is unlikely to do so.

Restrictions of the use of coal stoves

Unlike the United Kingdom, there has never been any national effort in the US to reduce reliance on coal stoves. Krakow, a major Polish city is banning coal stoves in 2019, after a multi-year effort to provide subsidies for alternative heating sources.

Two states – Washington and Oregon – effectively ban them because they only allow stoves that meet specific emission requirements, but those states would have very little coal heating anyway.

Many air districts that have poor air quality and high particulate matter levels employ temporary burn bans apply to coal stoves and well as wood stoves. A few jurisdictions, such as Fairbanks, Alaska, offer homeowners financial incentives to recycle their solid fuel burning appliance (including coal stoves) or replace it with a less polluting appliance (coal stoves are not eligible). However, most change out programs only remove old wood stoves and do not allow coal stoves to be replaced with wood stoves. A Pennsylvania county offered $ 200 to trade in old wood or coal stoves, but that program has been suspended.

Oregon is the only state where it is illegal to sell a coal stove, or any other uncertified solid fuel burning appliance. Oregon also requires uncertified solid fuel burning appliances, including coal stoves, to be removed and destroyed when a home is sold. According to the latest (2015) Census data, only 143 homes rely on coal for primary heat in Oregon.

At the local level, there may be a number of cities or counties that do not allow coal stoves, but the only one we could find is Summit County, Colorado that forbids the installation of a coal stove (uncertified solid fuel burning device) in a new home or as a replacement unit for an existing non-certified stove.

Key sources

Dr. James Houck, “Let’s Not Forget Coal,” Hearth & Home Magazine, December 2009, pp.

World Health Organization, “Residential heating with wood and coal: Health impacts and policy options in Europe and North America,” 2015.

Tom Zeller, “Burning Coal at Home Is Making a Comeback,” New York Times, Dec. 26, 2008 
Heated Up!

States attempt to update outdoor wood boiler laws to conform to new federal policies

The EPA’s new wooden heater regulations has left far more than ten states with outside boiler restrictions that now want updating. Most point out rules refer to Stage 1 and Stage 2 boilers, a voluntary plan that has now been superseded by certified boilers in new EPA rules.&nbsp&nbsp

At the moment, at the very least New Hampshire and Maryland are updating restrictions and the province of British Columbia presently integrated language for the new EPA accredited boilers.

The wording in these laws is frequently difficult and several states have produced accidental results in the earlier, these kinds of as Maryland whose laws only permitted Section two outside boilers to be set up, effectively prohibiting the installation of considerably cleaner and more effective indoor pellet boilers.

Scott Nichols, operator of Tarm biomass in Orford New Hampshire, is functioning with New Hampshire officers to steer clear of unintended benefits.&nbsp 1 concern, for example, is his advice to preserve the exemption for out of doors pellet boilers from residence line set again principles, an exemption in area considering that 2010.&nbsp Most states that regulate outdoor boilers have established set backs, from fifty to a lot more than two hundred feet.&nbsp

The Alliance for Green Heat is urging states to retain or set up property line established backs for out of doors wood boilers, like the new certified kinds, given that they can nevertheless emit abnormal smoke if they are loaded with unsplit, unseasoned wooden.&nbsp “We suggest a least of fifty ft from the property line and a hundred and fifty ft from the nearest neighboring residence for qualified wood boilers and far more for non-certified kinds,” explained John Ackerly, President of the Alliance for Environmentally friendly Heat.&nbsp

As of mid-February, 2017, New Hampshire is proposing 50 foot established-backs for certified wire wooden boilers, but Maryland’s draft did not include any established backs.

Yet another concern that retailers of present day indoor qualified wooden and pellet boilers are anxious with is the definition of outside boiler. “The EPA definition is improperly written and is a dragnet that catches each and every boiler in existence given that any boiler can be installed outdoors or in a framework not typically occupied by humans” Scott Nichols said.&nbsp New Hampshire agreed and altered their rules to specify that outdoor boilers are people boilers that are needed to be set up outside, so as not to incorporate indoor boilers that happen to be put in in a garage, for instance. Nichols is urging “all states to adjust their definitions for OWHH as New Hampshire has.”

The EPA’s former voluntary qualification software and current certification program for outside wood boilers (hydronic heaters) has helped to minimize particulate subject when the boilers are operated responsibly.&nbsp In addition to stricter emission standards, most certified boilers now have controls that assist make certain much better combustion through the burn cycle and lessen the impacts of biking.&nbsp

However, a lot of professionals and condition and neighborhood air good quality agencies continue to be involved that EPA-qualified Section two and EPA qualified boilers can make extreme smoke in the hands of many operators.&nbsp One particular key plan reaction has been to set up set backs from house strains and/or nearby residences.&nbsp Most states where outside boilers are well-likedwith the exception of the Excellent Lake states where most outdoor boiler producers are positionedsustain set backs.&nbsp set backs help make certain that outside wood boilers are not installed in densely inhabited regions and even in rural regions, they offer a buffer with the quick neighbors.

Home line established backs: The most frequent sort of established backs are property line established backs.&nbsp They usually assortment from 50 to 200 toes, with a hundred ft becoming the most frequent.&nbsp Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, and British Columbia all use residence line established backs.

Established again from closest neighboring home: Connecticut and Vermont are the only two states that use set again from the closest neighbor’s home.&nbsp They each require 200 toes, symbolizing stricter guidelines.

The two residence line and nearest home: Maine and Massachusetts use the two property line and closest residence. &nbspFor EPA Stage two boilers, Maine needs fifty feet from the residence line or 70 ft from a neighbor’s home. &nbspMassachusetts requires 50 feet from a property line and 75 feet from nearest property.

Seasonal limitations: Two states, Indiana and Massachusetts, do not let outside boilers to work in the summer season as they can result in even far more air pollution in hotter temperature when they are very likely to cycle on and off far more regularly. &nbspIn addition, Maryland just lately wrote draft regulations that would limit use from May 1 to September 30.

Stack heights: Most states that demand set backs also call for minimal stack heights.&nbsp (This memo does not address these.)

Sunset clauses: Most point out guidelines only apply to foreseeable future installations, but some, this kind of as Vermont and British Columbia, have sunset clauses for conventional boilers.&nbsp In British Columbia, only EPA accredited and Phase 2 boilers can be operated soon after November 1, 2026.

Connecticut


Connecticut Law
CGS § 22a-174k, enacted in 2005, bans the set up or operation of OWBs that do not meet up with specified specifications. A violation of the regulation is an infraction.
With a handful of exceptions, the law prohibits any individual from creating, setting up, establishing, modifying, operating, or using an OWB right up until EPA rules governing them consider influence.
The law makes it possible for OWBs if they have been both developed, modified or in use prior to July 8, 2005 or they

one. are put in at minimum 200 ft from the nearest neighboring home

Maine

DEP Details SHEET Regulation of Out of doors Wooden Boilers , Effective Date: November nine, 2007 Contact: 1-800-452-1942 or 207-287-2437 Amended: July 4, 2008

Site SETBACK Needs
OWB installations need to have to meet up with minimum setback requirements made to shield general public wellness. The setback distance required depends on the unit’s emission ranking, with diminished setbacks permitted for cleaner-burning OWB types. The setback table underneath lists the bare minimum length an OWB device requirements to be from any neighboring property line or dwelling. Customers should meticulously consider regardless of whether their house configuration provides the needed area to meet the setback requirements just before getting a boiler device.

OWB Emission Score
(in lbs . per million BTUs or lbs/MMBtu)
Minimal Setback Distances
from Residence Line OR from Dwelling
.32 lbs/MMBtu
50 toes OR 70 toes
.sixty lbs/MMBtu
100 toes OR 120 toes
&gt0.sixty lbs/MMBtu (such as uncertified OWBs)
250 feet OR 270 feet

Massachusetts

310 CMR seven.26(fifty) Outside Hydronic Heaters
On and soon after December 26, 2008 no person shall:
one.&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp Web site or install a household-size out of doors hydronic heater that meets the emission standard outlined in 310 CMR 7.26(53)(a), until it is set up at the very least fifty ft from any house line and 75 ft from any occupied dwelling that it is not serving, at the time of installation.
New Hampshire&nbsp
a hundred twenty five-R:three Setback and Stack Height Specifications. –
&nbsp&nbsp I. No person shall install a Stage I OWHH except if it is mounted at least one hundred ft from the nearest house line and has a everlasting attached stack that is at least 2 feet larger than the peak of the roof of a residence or place of organization not served by the OWHH if that home or area of company is situated inside 300 ft of the OWHH.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp II. No particular person shall put in a Period II OWHH unless of course it is at minimum fifty toes from the closest residence line.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp III. No individual shall put in an OWHH that is not a Section I or Phase II OWHH unless it is found at the very least 200 ft from the nearest abutting home and has a everlasting hooked up stack that is at the very least 2 ft greater than the peak of the roof of a residence or place of business not served by the OWHH if that home or location of organization is situated inside of 300 feet of the OWHH.
Resource. 2008, 362:two, eff. Aug. ten, 2008.
New York
6 CRR-NY 247.4
NY-CRR
SUBCHAPTER A. Prevention AND Control OF AIR CONTAMINATION AND AIR Pollution
Part 247. Out of doors Wooden BOILERS
All new OWBs must meet minimum setback specifications. Residential-measurement new OWBs (thermal output ratings of 250,000 British thermal units for each hour (Btu/h) or considerably less) must be sited 100 toes or far more from the closest residence boundary line. Professional-size new OWBs (thermal output rankings increased than 250,000 Btu/h) need to be sited 200 ft or much more from the nearest property boundary line, 300 ft from the nearest house boundary line of a residentially-zoned residence and one,000 ft or far more from a university.
Pennsylvania
Title 25—ENVIRONMENTAL Security
ENVIRONMENTAL Quality BOARD
[25 PA.CODE CHS. 121 AND 123]
Outdoor Wood-Fired Boilers
[forty Pa.B. 5571]
[Saturday, Oct 2, 2010]
Beneath closing-kind subsection (d), relating to setback requirements for new Phase two out of doors wooden-fired boilers, a person may possibly not set up, use or function a new Section two OWB unless the boiler is mounted a least of 50 feet from the nearest residence line.
Vermont
 
ADOPTED RULE – Powerful Date: July 5, 2014 
                          Company OF Organic Resources                               Montpelier, Vermont 
                     ENVIRONMENTAL Security Regulations                                    CHAPTER 5                              AIR Pollution Manage 
one.&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp Set up Needs
(i) After Oct one,1997, no man or woman shall put in or let the set up of any OWB that is not a Period I OWB or a Period II OWB except if the OWB:
  1. (A) &nbspIs found more than two hundred feet from any residence that is neither served by the OWB nor owned by the owner or lessee of the OWB and,
Utah
R307. Environmental High quality, Air Quality.
Rule R307-208. Outside Wooden Boilers.
As in result on January 1, 2017
(two) No particular person shall function an out of doors wooden boiler within 1000 toes of a non-public or community college, medical center or working day treatment facility.
(three) Setback. A new residential out of doors wood boiler shall not be situated much less than a hundred ft from the closest house boundary line. A new commercial out of doors wooden boiler shall not be located much less than 200 feet from the closest home boundary nor 300 ft from a house boundary of a residentially zoned house.

British Columbia (Canada)


PROVINCE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
Purchase OF THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR IN COUNCIL

Purchase in Council No. 650 , Sept. 19 2016
Boilers -setback and operational requirements

seven (one) In this area, “put in” means installed outdoor or m a composition not ordinarily employed as living area.
(2) &nbspAn proprietor of a parcel should guarantee that a boiler that is put in on the parcel soon after November I, 2016 but before May one, 2017 is mounted as follows:
(a) if the boiler is a accredited boiler or a phase 2 experienced boiler, not considerably less than forty m [131 ft] from every single of the parcel’s boundaries
(b) in any other case, not significantly less than 80 m [262 ft] from every single of the parcel’s boundaries.
(3) &nbspAn proprietor of a parcel should guarantee that a boiler that is mounted on the parcel on or right after Could one, 2017 is
(a) a accredited boiler, and
(b) installed not much less than forty m from every of the parcel’s boundaries.

(four) &nbspDespite subsections (2) (a) and (3), if the qualified boiler is made to bum only pelletized gasoline, the boiler need to be set up not Jess than I0 m [32 feet] from each of the parcel’s boundaries.
(five) &nbspA individual need to not work a boiler installed contrary to subsection (2) (a) or (b), (3) or (four).

(6) &nbspOn and right after November one, 2026, a person have to not operate an set up boiler except if the boiler is a accredited boiler or a phase two certified boiler.
Heated Up!

Mapping wooden heating and wood smoke in the United States

Wood heating has created a comeback in the United States and has been the quickest expanding heating gasoline for most several years given that 2005, according to US Census figures. Currently, 2.36 million houses in the United States use wood as a primary heating gas (ACS, 2015, 1-year estimates). And 8.eight U.S. million houses use it as a secondary heating gas (EIA, RECS, 2009). Wood was the dominant residential heating gasoline in the United states until coal started to get in excess of in the eighties. Soon after that, heating oil and then gas turned well-liked. The percent of the inhabitants mainly heating with wood dropped from 23% in the forties, when the US Census first began tracking warmth, to a minimal level of one.3% in 1970, when fossil fuels have been low cost and common.
This map shows PM 2.five emissions from residential wooden combustion by county, in accordance to the 2008 EPA report, “New Methodology for Estimating Emissions from Household Wooden Combustion.” It seems to display the densest concentrations of PM2.5 in Wisconsin and Minnesota in which the most out of doors wooden boilers are manufactured and set up.

This map, from the identical 2008 EPA, report offers further depth on the source of PM 2.5 emissions by equipment sort. Each and every appliance kind is represented by a diverse coloration. Pink represents fireplaces, green signifies fireplaces with inserts, dim blue signifies woodstoves, light blue represents indoor furnaces, magenta represents outside hydronic heaters, and yellow signifies wax/sawdust firelogs. Whilst the terminology is fairly perplexing, the map shows some exciting trends. &nbspFor occasion, wooden stoves emit the greater part of PM in the Northeast, although outdoor hydronic heaters are the premier resource in the Great Lake states (outside wood boilers continued their popularity in these states soon after the 2008 EPA report). Fireplaces with inserts are the biggest emitter in most of the south and California. Indoor furnaces are the most typical resource of PM pollution in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

The next map was produced by the Census Bureau, displaying for every capita use of wooden stoves. It demonstrates 17.eight% of houses in Vermont use wood or pellets as a major heat resource in 2012. Maine had the next greatest share at thirteen.seven% of residences. Out West, Montana has the greatest proportion with nine.two% of residences, followed by Idaho at seven.9% and Oregon at seven.one%. On the US mainland, the states with the the very least wooden heating are predictably Florida, at .2% of the populace and then Texas at .four%.



The Alliance for Green Heat made a map utilizing Census knowledge to present the ongoing progress of wood heating amongst 2000 and 2012. By 2010, the expansion development was properly recognized, owing in portion to the housing crisis and recession. In that period of time, wooden warmth doubled in about ten states, primarily in the Northeast.

This map underneath, manufactured the Alliance for Green Warmth, also employs Census knowledge but breaks down primary wood heating households by Congressional districts. This offers a a lot more detailed look at the geography of wooden heating in contrast to state level specifics. Presumably, a map displaying wooden usage at the county amount could also be created. &nbsp

This final map displays a curious phenomenon in 1950 in which the Census Bureau discovered higher charges of primary wooden heating in southern states than in several northern ones. This is most likely because of to the more quickly penetration of fossil fuels in northern states, while place heaters in southern states, including those in several poor, rural black and white households, continued to run on cordwood.

Heated Up!

Federal government Report States Wood & Pellet Heat Dominates Household Renewables

The 2014 Winter season Fuel Outlook launched by the US Power Info Agency on Oct. seven, predicted that wooden and pellet heating would carry on the pattern of becoming the nation’s fasting expanding warmth supply. &nbspOverall, wooden and pellet heating grew 38% from 2004 to 2013, and now accounts for 2.five% of all house principal heating.
The EIA predicts wooden and pellet heating will expand once more in the 2014/15 winter by 4.7%. &nbspElectricity is predicted to increase second quickest at three.one%. Organic fuel is at .07% development and oil and propane are each and every predicted to drop by about 3.two%. &nbspRegional knowledge shows wooden and pellet heating developing more than 7% in the northeast and Midwest, and only two.five% in the south and 1.eight% in the west. It was only two a long time in the past that the EIA started out to contain wooden and pellets in the 2012 Winter Fuel Outlook, even however considerably more residences have wooden and pellet stoves than have oil furnaces.

Nationally, solar and geothermal dominate headlines and media imagery, but wood and pellet heating stay the dominant gamers in minimizing fossil fuel utilization at the residential degree. &nbspIn 2014, the EIA says wooden and pellet heat will produce .58 quadrillion Btu, or 67% of the nation’s total, although household solar will generate .twenty five quadrillion Btu, or 29%. &nbspMeanwhile, geothermal creates only .04, or 4%, and is not showing constant increases like solar.
Whilst wood and pellets are the quickest growing heating gas in The united states, residential solar is increasing even faster in the electrical energy market. At current rates, residential photo voltaic could produce a lot more strength than residential wood and pellet stoves by 2020. &nbspSolar has loved generous taxpayer subsidies with a thirty% federal tax credit rating in addition to condition incentives. &nbspThe federal solar credit rating is set to expire at the conclude of 2016, but by then the expense of solar panels may have diminished ample for ongoing expansion with out federal subsidies.
Wood and pellet heating and solar are not competing technologies in that 1 generates electricity and the other heat. &nbspThey are usually mixed to make a residence practically carbon neutral, a approach which is transferring far more quickly in Europe than in the US due to higher fossil gas costs and favorable govt policies. &nbsp
In Europe, a lot of international locations are aggressively incentivizing greater effectiveness pellet stoves and pellet boilers. &nbsp&nbspIn the US, the Bush and Obama Administrations did not push for incentives for cleaner and more efficient pellet tools but relatively has permit Congress and industry shape a tax credit score with out any successful efficiency or emission criteria. &nbspAs a outcome, the growth in the wood and pellet sector is not predominantly an enlargement of cleaner and far more efficient products, as it is in Europe.&nbsp Sales of cleaner pellet stoves are increasing in the US, but the progress of wooden heating in America contains some really polluting products this sort of as outdoor wood boilers, also knows as outside hydronic heaters and new&nbspunregulated wooden stoves that have no emissions expectations.&nbsp Right after several many years of delays, the EPA is last but not least regulating these systems and necessitating them to meet up with emission specifications by summer time of 2015.&nbsp
With no successful federal laws from the EPA, some states have been guiding the marketplace towards cleaner and much more effective wood and pellet heating products, with Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon and Washington having the guide.

Heated Up!

More States Start Innovative Stove Incentive Programs

More states are starting or changing their stove incentive programs to tighten eligibility, require professional installation, and often, to install an outside air supply.  Until recently, incentive programs only required that wood stoves be EPA certified.  And even though the EPA certifies many pellet stoves, it does not recommend EPA certified pellet stoves be required in incentive or change-out programs.  Change-out programs designed and managed by the EPA and HPBA allowed virtually any new wood or pellet stove to be installed.  The new trend led by states is changing all that.
The Oregon program, which began in 2013, is the most complex in terms of requirements, but provides up to a $ 1,500 tax credit.  To date, the highest tax credit awarded was $ 960, according to Deby Davis of the Oregon Department of Energy. 
For larger tax credits, the Oregon program requires that stoves have actual measured efficiencies and be listed on the EPA list of certified wood stoves.  Only 19 stoves to date have provided the EPA with actual efficiencies and those brands are getting a bump in sales in Oregon and Maine.  If the manufacturer of the stove has not provided the EPA with an actual measured efficiency, the Oregon tax credit is $ 144 for non-catalytic stoves, $ 216 for catalytic and $ 288 for pellet stoves. 
The Maine program had required actual efficiencies but is in the process of changing to require emission limits only.  The emission limits of 3.5 grams per hour for wood stoves and 2.5 for pellet stoves mirror the emission limits in Oregon.  Despite a very generous $ 5,000 rebate for residential boilers, the Maine program provides only $ 250 per stove and it is still unclear how successful the program is.
The Maryland program is slightly stricter on emissions, with an upper threshold of 3.0 for wood and 2.0 for pellet stoves, but does not require pellet stoves to be EPA certified.  As a result, it may be incentivizing some very low efficiency pellet stoves.  The program is unique in that the $ 500 – $ 700 rebate is only available to homes that do not have access to natural gas.  None of the three programs require that an uncertified stove be traded in for a new stove.
 
These programs mark a trend towards stricter eligibility for stoves incentivized with taxpayer funds.  But managers of these programs are struggling with some unintended barriers and consequences.  In Oregon, the program excludes all pellet stoves but one because only one pellet stove manufacturer, Seraph, has provided verified efficiency to the EPA.  In Maine, the program initially required stoves to be installed by contractors with a solid fuel license, but did not provide for hearth professionals to do installations.  That glitch is being changed as well.
The tax credit calculation in Oregon favors non-catalytic stoves over the cleaner catalytic or pellet stoves, which puts the agency in charge of the program, the Oregon Department of Energy, at odds with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.  The Oregon tax credit amount is based on the efficiency improvement over the EPA’s default efficiency.  So a non-cat tested at 70% would have a 7% improvement over the 63% default.  A pellet stove tested at 75% would not have any improvement over the 78% EPA default efficiency.  The program thus unintentionally puts pellet stoves at a disadvantage because the EPA set unrealistically high default efficiency for pellet stoves. 
Oregon, Maine and Maryland require professional installation and Oregon and Maine require inclusion of outside air supply.  In Oregon, this could mean simply a $ 35 vent that provides air within several feet of the stove.  All three programs avoid “free riders” to some extent because even if the incentive does not lead to the sale, the state achieves important goals of professional installation, cleaner appliances, outside air where applicable, etc.  Free riders is a term used for consumers who get a rebate but who would have made the same purchase regardless of the incentive.
The proposed new EPA stove regulations will require all stoves to be tested and listed for efficiency, but there is widespread concern that the EPA will not require — or even have the capacity to make — efficiencies available to the public within the first year or two after promulgation.  This is leading Oregon and other states to consider keeping or even starting to use efficiency requirements in their incentive programs. 


Heated Up!