Massachusetts first in recognizing efficiency and automation in wood stove program

Massachusetts has developed the first wood stove change out program in the country that recognizes the value of automated stoves and stoves that disclose their verified efficiency to consumers.  The 2017 program offers Massachusetts residents between $ 500 and $ 3,000 for upgrades, depending on the stove and income level of the family.
The Commonwealth Woodstove Change-Out Program has committed $ 1.8 million in funding for change-outs from 2017 through 2019. The 2017 program represents the sixth round of funding since the program’s launch in 2012. The program has helped more than 1,400 residents swap out their non-EPA certified, inefficient stoves for newer, cleaner models, and approximately 500 of these rebates went to residents earning less than 80 percent of the state median income.
The program is like scores of others across the country, but Massachusetts is the first to give an additional rebate of $ 500 for pellet stoves and $ 250 for wood stoves that are above 65% efficient (actual tested efficiency reported to the EPA). Most manufacturers do not disclose the actual efficiency of their stoves but provide exaggerated, misleading efficiency values on their websites.
The program is run the by Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) in coordination with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER).  It is also the first program that gives an additional rebate for stoves that have automated features and control the airflow with sensors or other devices, providing a cleaner burn for the consumer. 
Most stoves are eligible for a $ 500 – $ 1,250 rebate depending on how clean they are, but four automated stoves qualify for a $ 1,500 rebate, or a $ 2,750 rebate for income-qualified families.  Three of the four automated stoves also qualify for an additional $ 250 that have efficiencies above 65% that are verified by the EPA.
The additional rebate for automated stoves may only come to $ 250 or $ 500, but the recognition of this new class of stoves is a significant step for the stove industry.  These stoves are more known in Europe, but in the US, the terminology, rationale and classification of automated stoves is still in its infancy. 
The Mass program may be a sign of how change-out programs can adapt to changing wood stove technology.  Automated stoves help achieve one of the biggest challenges stoves face: how to get stoves to perform as well in the home as they did in the lab.  The Mass program explains, “The low emission and high efficiency lab test ratings are more likely to be realized in households because user error is minimized.” 
One of the next huge steps for wood stoves is to have them designed and tested with cord wood instead of 2x4s and 4x4s, the fuel they are designed for and tested with today.  In the next 2 or 3 years, change-out programs are likely to also start awarding additional rebates for stoves made by manufacturers willing to start designing and testing with cord wood, something that the new EPA stove regulations are making possible.
Stove eligibility
The EPA requires all stoves to emit 4.5 grams of particulate matter per hour or less, but the Mass program only allows stoves that emit under 3.5 grams.  The list of stoves eligible in Mass is 24 pages long and explains their rebate eligibility.  The Maine, Maryland, and New York programs also require lower gram per hour limits than the EPA.
The MassCEC does not allow gas stoves to participate in the program because Massachusetts statute prohibits them from providing incentives to fossil fuel use, said Peter McPhee, Renewable Thermal Program Director at the MassCEC.
Non-catalytic stoves: The Mass program is more aggressive than any other change-out program in providing bigger incentives for cleaner wood stoves.  They offer $ 500 for non-cat stoves that emit 3 – 3.5 grams per hour, $ 1,000 for stoves from 2 – to less than 3 grams per hour and $ 1,250 for stoves that emit less than 2 grams per hour.  Of the 309 non-cat stoves on the market today, 166 are eligible for some level of rebate because they emit 3.5 grams per hour or less.
Catalytic stoves: To be eligible, a catalytic stove must emit 2 grams per hour or less.  Of the 67 cat stoves on the market, 27 are under 2 grams and eligible.  Catalytic stoves under 2 grams get a $ 1,000 rebate, $ 250 less than a non-cat stove that is under 2 grams.
Pellet stoves: Like catalytic stoves, pellet stoves must emit 2 grams per hour or less, and are eligible for $ 1,250 (plus an additional $ 500 for an efficiency bonus, if they have a verified efficiency.)  Of the 115 pellet stoves on the market, 81 are eligible as they emit 2 grams an hour or less.  Providing similar rebates for wood and pellet stoves is increasingly rare as most change-out programs give 50 – 100% higher rebates for pellet stoves, compared to wood stoves.  Nationally, the median rebate for a wood stove is $ 600 for wood stoves and $ 1,000 for pellet stoves.
Automated stoves: Four stoves qualify as automated under this program: The Quadra Fire Adventure II and Adventure III, the MF Fire Catalyst and the RSF Delta Fusion.   All of these stoves break new ground in operating cleanly while drastically reducing the margin of human error, which is considerable. More European or American automated models are likely to come onto the market in coming years.

 Efficiency
A number of states are trying to include efficiency in their change-out programs, but Mass is the first to do so.  The underlying problem is that before 2015, stoves were not required to disclose their efficiency.  Today, only a quarter of wood stoves on the market disclose their actual, verified efficiency.  Stoves certified since May 2015 are required to test for and disclose their efficiency.  Some companieshave taken the extra step and voluntarily disclosed their actual efficiencies and do not exaggerate their numbers on promotional materials.
If a program only gave rebates to stoves with verified efficiencies, the consumer would only have 125 out of 500 stoves to choose from.  So, Mass chose not to make efficiency disclosure a requirement, but gives a $ 250 or $ 500 bonus for stoves that meet a minimum efficiency of at least 65%, well under the average stove efficiency which is around 70%.  This will likely drive sales towards manufacturers who disclose their efficiencies and will also educate consumers about the importance of selecting highly efficient wood and pellet stoves.  An additional $ 500 is significant.  More manufacturers may start to disclose their efficiencies to be eligible for higher rebates as other states begin to recognize efficiency as Mass did. 
Of the 38 pellet stoves that disclose actual efficiencies, four are not eligible for the change-out program as they emit more than 2 grams an hour, and 3 are not eligible for the $ 500 efficiency adder as they are less than 65% efficient.  This leaves 31 pellet stoves eligible for the $ 250 adder.
Of the 23 catalytic stoves with verified efficiencies, four are not eligible as they exceed 2 grams per hour and one of those four is under 65% efficient, leaving 19 eligible for the $ 500 adder. 
Of the 66 non-cat stoves with verified efficiencies, 17 exceed 3.5 grams and are not eligible for the program.  Two others are not eligible for the $ 250 adder as they are under 65% efficient.  This leaves 37 stoves eligible for the $ 250 efficiency adder.
Participating retailers
Residents must have the new stove installed by a Participating Stove Professional who follows the guidelines of the program, which includes ensuring the old, uncertified wood stove is destroyed.  There are currently 32 participating stove retailers, four of which are outside of Massachusetts and three of which are chimney sweep businesses.  However, MassCEC says that they expect a total of 40 – 50 in coming weeks. They are likely to be NFI or CSIA accredited, but are not requiredto be.  Residents are encouraged to find installers who are. 
Programs that require residents to work with participating retailers can effectively limit the range of stove models that they can buy.  Retailers like to install stoves that they sell, so they can make profit on both the sale and the install.  But some eligible stoves available at Home Depot can offer real bargains particularly for lower income families.  Some participating retailers or chimney sweeps may install stoves purchased elsewhere by consumers, but some may decline to do so.  Many eligible wood and pellet stoves are made by small companies and a few are made by companies that sell direct to consumers. They may have a harder time participating in this change out-program.
The rebate is provided to the participating retailer, not to the homeowner, which is common in change-out programs.  This enables the consumer to get the discount immediately at time of payment.  Participating retailers must promise not increase the price of stoves or installations for customers using the program.  And MassCEC promises to pay the rebate to the Stove Professional within thirty (30) days.
Income qualified
Another notable feature of the MassCEC program is its generous rebate levels for families that are well above the poverty line, but below the median income of Massachusetts families.  Families are eligible for the higher rebate amounts if they earn 80% of the median income that is $ 87,000 for a family of four and $ 59,000 for a family of two. 
“We wanted to be able to drive benefits towards more people who really need assistance in the up-front capital costs,” said Peter McPhee from MassCEC. 
Incomes are much higher in the Boston urban area than in the rest of the more rural state, so a majority of families will be eligible for the higher rebates in more rural areas where demand for wood and pellet heat is highest.  In the western Mass county of Berkshire, the median family income is about $ 50,000.  Total project costs are estimated to be an average of $ 3,000 to $ 4,300.  Income eligible families receive between $ 1,500 and $ 3,000, or 40% to 100% of project costs. 

MassCEC has held change-out programs for the past five years and pending funding, may hold more in the coming years.  The program has $ 1.8 million in funding for 2017 through 2019.  Program managers are not only aware of changing technology in wood stoves but also the changing policy landscape.  The EPA’s emission standards are under attack from the Republican right-wing in Congress and the main stove industry association is suing the EPA over them.  The MassCEC program manual hints that they will continue with the emission standards developed under the Obama Administration: “Should NSPS requirements be modified in the future, MassCEC will likely retain these future emissions level requirements.”

Heated Up!

Fourth Wood Stove Competition to focus on automation and electricity generation

Today, the Alliance for Green Heat announced the fourth Wood Stove Design Challenge, returning to the National Mall in Washington, DC in November 2018. 
The 2018 event will be free and open to the public and includes rigorous testing of the next generation of technology that can make wood stoves consistently cleaner, more efficient, easier to use and, like solar energy, a renewable source of electricity.
The fourth Wood Stove Design Challenge is modeled after the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Solar Decathlon, a competition between teams from universities worldwide to design more efficient and cheaper residential solar power.  Like the Solar Decathlon, the Wood Stove Challenge also attracts teams from around the world and focuses energy and resources on innovation and improved performance.  The stove competitions have been in partnership with the DOE Brookhaven National Lab, the New York State Energy Research and Development Administration (NYSERDA), the US Forest Service and others, the Osprey Foundation, among others. 
Participants will compete in two events:  One is to automate the wood stove with 21stcentury technology like sensors and WIFI-enabled controls that improve combustion efficiency, reduce air pollution and improve ease of use.   The second competition will focus on thermoelectric wood stoves that generate electricity to power lights, cell phones, and WIFI-enabled controls. Thermoelectric generators are similar to solar PV systems except they turn heat instead of light into electricity.  When integrated with a residential solar PV system, a thermoelectric wood stove and battery power system, like the TESLA Powerwall, could effectively double the wintertime output of solar PV system in areas like northern United States, Canada and northern Europe.
Wood stoves are still used by 30 – 60% of homes in hundreds of rural and suburban counties around the country.  Yet, the technology revolution that has swept household appliances in the last 20 years has by-passed wood stove technology. 

Teams in the 2018 stove challenge will be competing for up to $ 50,000 in prizes.  The teams and exhibitors will also have a chance to showcase new technology on the National Mall just blocks away from the Department of Energy, the US Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency. 
“This is a chance for students, back yard inventors, and wood stove manufacturers to re-invent this age-old technology for today’s environmentally conscious and time-conscious consumer,” said John Ackerly, founder of the Wood Stove Competition and President of the Alliance for Green Heat.  “An affordable, smart wood stove is achievable and could help millions of families reduce their reliance on gas and oil while significantly reducing  pollution,” Ackerly added.
“This is the first Wood Stove Challenge to promote wood stoves that generate electricity to power everything from a cell phone to an entire home.  Thermoelectric wood stoves, when integrated with solar PV systems and home batteries like the TESLA Powerwall, have the potential to make solar energy more affordable, reduce air pollution, and pave the way for a more sustainable energy future, “according to Ken Adler, Senior Technology Advisor at the Alliance for Green Heat and formerly with the U.S. EPA.
Previous Stove Design Challenges brought innovative stoves and a diverse array of stove and energy experts together on the National Mall in 2013, Brookhaven National Lab in 2014 and 2016.
Further details about participating and competing in this competition will be available late March, 2017. For more information about the  2018 competition, contact John Ackerly at jackery@forgreenheat.org. For inquiries specific to the electricity production category, contact Ken Adler at kadler@forgreenheat.org.
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The Alliance for Green Heat promotes modern wood and pellet heating systems as a low-carbon, sustainable and affordable energy solution. The Alliance works to advance cleaner and more efficient residential heating technology and hosts international stove design competitions to accelerate innovative stove technology.  Founded in Maryland in 2009, the Alliance is an independent non-profit organization and is tax-exempt under section 501c3 of the tax code.

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!

Residential heating with wood and coal in the US and Europe (excerpts)

This site contains excerpts from a very crucial and readable report released by the Planet Health Organization (WHO) in 2015. &nbspIt is mainly from a wellness and policy perspective and is extremely useful for North American as it provides more of a European point of view and is balanced in its technique. The complete 58-page report can be downloaded listed here.&nbsp

The report is notably interesting as it hits on a lot of themes that were considered or provided in the 2015 EPA wood heater laws, some of which will be litigated in 2017. It addresses greatest available technologies, indoor air quality, effectiveness specifications, stove changeout programs, black carbon, carbon neutrality, HEPA filters and a lot of other troubles. One of the overarching conclusions is that nationwide policy ought to strongly favor pellet above cord wooden appliances, a changeover that has already happened in elements of Europe, but not in the US.

Authors consist of authorities from the US, Austria, Canada, Finland and Germany.&nbsp This publication was prepared by the Joint WHO/United Nations Financial Fee for Europe (UNECE).
The report describes the overall health consequences of and coverage possibilities for working with household heating with wooden and coal in Europe and the United States. The benefits introduced indicate that it will be tough to deal with difficulties with outside air pollution in numerous parts of the globe with out addressing this resource sector. National, regional and nearby administrations, politicians and the community at huge need to have a far better knowing of the position of wood biomass heating as a main resource of harmful outdoor air pollutants (specifically good particles). This report is meant to aid boost these kinds of an comprehending.&nbsp
Executive Summary:
Actions are offered to minimize emissions of solid fuels for household heating in most locations. Encouraging gas switching (away from coal and other strong fuels) and use of far more effective heating systems (this kind of as qualified fireplaces or pellet stoves) can lessen the emissions from residential wooden and coal heating gadgets. Educational strategies might also be beneficial equipment to decrease emissions from residential reliable gasoline heaters.
In addition, filters may possibly reduce well being results from indoor air pollution. Present regulatory measures include ecodesign regulations and labels in the European Union (EU) and technological innovation based emission boundaries in the United States of The united states and Canada. Fiscal gas switching and technological innovation changeout incentives – as well as specific “no burn” times and ecolabelling – are other equipment accessible to plan-makers.
p. two. Household heating with wood is a sector in which PM2.5 and BC emissions can potentially be decreased with higher cost– efficiency than several other emission reduction possibilities. Even so, in Europe and North The usa only a handful of nations or states have established legal boundaries for minimal combustion effectiveness or greatest emissions of PM and damaging gaseous compounds like CO and gaseous natural compounds (see part six).
Coal:
p. eight. In the United states fifty five% of properties employed coal/coke for room heating in 1940, but this fell to 12% in 1960, beneath five% in the early seventies and below one% from the early nineteen eighties (Schipper et al., 1985 United States Census Bureau, 2011).
A single review estimates that reductions in the use of bituminous coal for heating in the United states of america from 1945–1960 reduced winter all-age mortality by one% and wintertime infant mortality by 3%, preserving virtually 2000 life for each wintertime month, including 310 toddler lives (Barreca et al., 2014).
Primarily based on this and proof that indoor emissions from family combustion of coal are carcinogenic to human beings, the latest WHO indoor air top quality tips strongly advise in opposition to the household use of unprocessed or uncooked coal, such as for heating (WHO, 2014a).
Infiltration of smoke into homes
p. 10. A home with wood-burning appliances is likely to be surrounded by other homes with wood-burning appliances, and wooden burning also tends to combination temporally as a result, on cold evenings and evenings most residences in the region may possibly be burning wood.
Presented that most wooden burning occurs in cold places exactly where homes are properly insulated, properties are predicted to have lower infiltration (which means that comparatively modest quantities of out of doors air pollution, such as wooden-burning smoke, enter the property and contribute to indoor air pollution), specially in the course of the heating year.
In North The usa heating-time outside temperature is an critical determinant of infiltration, and infiltration ranges are usually lower in the heating than the non-heating time, when doorways and windows are probably to be open a lot more (Allen et al., 2012). In British Columbia the mean infiltration portion of PM2.5 in winter was located to be .28, when compared to .61 in summer, although infiltration factors for person properties in winter season ranged from .1–0.6 (Barn et al., 2008) yet another research reported in the same way reduced mean infiltration stages of .32 Å}.17 throughout the winter season (Allen et al., 2009). Combustion of wood in residential areas and frequently beneath cold, calm meteorological circumstances can even so lead to substantial publicity compared to other air pollution sources, owing to the principle of ingestion fraction.
&nbsp&nbsp
Indoor pollution
Modern wooden stoves and fireplaces, when operated according to the manufacturers’ directions, release some PM and gaseous pollutants directly into indoor air, although in most instances the proof for considerable indoor emissions from these modern day stoves is quite minimal. With poor procedure, very poor air flow or backdrafting, even so, elevated concentrations of combustion items (such as PM, CO, VOCs, NOx and aldehydes) may possibly consequence indoors. Acute CO poisoning, which can at times even be fatal, may possibly happen thanks to indoor wood burning and infiltration of filthy ambient air), specifically when air flow of the wood-burning appliance is not managed effectively.
Stove Alter outs
p. 21. This sort of modify-out initiatives have likely constraints. The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Surroundings (CCME) – the association of atmosphere ministers from the federal, provincial and territorial governments – evaluated twelve stove exchange and instructional initiatives carried out in Canada and concluded that exchange programmes could have limits relating to equally the expense of new technologies and the lengthy services existence of appliances when set up. The evaluation supported the use of regulation effectively to curb the sale of large-emission appliances. This method is utilised in a quantity of Canadian provinces and American states.

The Canadian National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Well being discovered that emissions standards (based mostly on greatest offered systems) are essential to ensure that the newer units put in by way of alter-out programmes are amid the cleanest offered in the marketplace. Without these requirements, alter-out programmes may, in truth, be dropped possibilities to set up the cleanest obtainable wooden-burning units, which will be in use for a long time to come.
The examine also located that removal of traditional noncertified appliances (through exchanges, time limits or prior to the sale or transfer of a house) was the most powerful approach provided in a model municipal by-law for mitigation of household wood smoke (Setting Canada, 2006) (see “Other rules and voluntary measures” in area 6). [Click for much more on stove alter out packageseditor.]
HEPA Filters
Although family or individual-amount methods are not typically element of air good quality administration programmes, two studies from Canada show that inhome&nbspHEPA filtration might lessen overall health impacts from wooden smoke. An first solitary-blind randomized crossover study of 21 homes during winter season, in an location afflicted by household wood combustion as properly as site visitors and industrial sources, reported a suggest 55% (normal deviation = 38%) reduction in indoor PM stages when HEPA filters were operated (Barn et al., 2008). Use of the HEPA filters reduced indoor PM2.5 and levoglucosan concentrations by 60% and seventy five%, respectively. [Click for much more on HEPA filterseditor.]
Regulatory Emission Limitations
p. 26. Over the past 10 years, the European Commission has worked in the direction of the possibility of regulating strong fuel local space heaters and boilers, especially individuals that use different types of woody biomass gas (wood logs, pellets and biomass bricks), to produce proposed ecodesign emissions restrictions.
According to the Commission proposals, implementation of ecodesign specifications would lead to significant reductions of PM2.5 emissions from solid gas regional place heaters and boilers compared to baseline projections. The draft regulation for sound fuel local room heaters2 states that in 2030 the proposed demands for individuals merchandise, combined with the influence of the energy labelling, are anticipated to conserve about forty one petajoules (.nine million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe)) per yr, corresponding to .four million tonnes of CO2. They are also envisioned to reduce
PM emissions by 27 kilotonnes per yr,
Voluntary Actions
p. thirty. The Wood Stove Decathlon, an initiative of the Alliance for Environmentally friendly Heat, was structured in 2013 to emphasis creativeness and methods on planning subsequent generation wood stoves. The principal purpose was to problem groups of combustion engineers, engineering pupils, inventors and stove makers to construct wooden stoves that are low-emission, large-efficiency, revolutionary and inexpensive, in a common approach that may possibly position to commercially desirable up coming generation stove manufacturing (Alliance for Environmentally friendly Heat, 2013).&nbsp
Policy Wants
p. 31 Any renewable power or local weather modify relevant policies that assist combustion of wooden for residential heating want to take into account the local and global ambient air pollution impacts and quickly advertise the use of only the most affordable emission or ideal obtainable combustion technologies.
Lawful rules for wood combustion effectiveness in new heating appliances are urgently necessary during the globe. These will each sluggish down the present quick pace of worldwide warming (relating to BC in good particles and VOCs that market ozone formation) and minimize the great load of condition triggered by wood combustion-derived particles (especially organic compounds carried by BC). Such rules ought to incorporate tight – but technically achievable – boundaries in distinct for the main emissions of particulate mass, gaseous hydrocarbons and CO from new boilers and heaters.
p. 32. As new wood-burning units turn out to be far more vitality effective and emit less air pollution (specifically PM), nationwide governments require to prepare heater exchange regulations or voluntary programmes. Municipalities, counties and states need to take into account demanding heater exchanges at the time of residence remodels or product sales. In many instances, these laws will be most profitable if monetary compensation is provided to support with the cost of changing aged heaters with these assembly restricted strength effectiveness or emission boundaries regulations.
“No burn” regions are necessary. Particularly with recent combustion technologies, it is crucial to determine urban places with dense populations and/or geographical features (such as valleys amongst mountains) where household heating or cooking with tiny-scale appliances burning reliable fuels (wood and coal) is not permitted at all or is at the very least minimal to registered versions of reduced-emission wood combustion devices. Residential heating with coal in little-scale appliances must also be completely prohibited, at least in communities of developed international locations, as need to the use of wood log burners for central heating with out a sufficiently large water tank (which or else qualified prospects to poorly incomplete combustion and extremely huge emissions).
Co-rewards for health and local climate
As wood is burned … carbon is unveiled back to the ambiance, not only as CO2 but in most household combustion also in the kind of quick-lived greenhouse pollutants this sort of as BC, CO and VOCs like CH4. Thus, to be completely “carbon neutral”, wooden gas has to be not only harvested renewably but also combusted completely to CO2. For both local weather and wellness needs, the type these fuels’ carbon requires when it is introduced matters greatly, given that BC and CH4 are both strongly local weather-warming.
p. 34. A Planet Lender review located that changing recent wooden stoves and household boilers used for heating with pellet stoves and boilers and replacing chunk coal fuel with coal briquettes (mainly in jap Europe and China) could supply significant local climate positive aspects.
One more study coordinated by the United Nations Surroundings Programme and the Entire world Meteorological Group identified that prevalent dissemination of pellet stoves (in industrialized nations) could increase overall health, since these interventions lead to reductions in PM2.5.
If Arctic weather change turns into a emphasis of specific mitigation action (due to the fact of threats from climbing sea amounts, for case in point), popular dissemination of pellet stoves and coal briquettes may possibly warrant further thought simply because of their disproportional reward to mitigating warming from BC deposition in the Arctic (UNEP &amp WMO, 2011). The World Bank found that substitute of wood logs with pellets in European stoves could direct to a fifteen% better cooling in the Arctic (about .1 ÅãC). For Arctic nations the modeling strongly suggests that the most successful
BC reduction actions would target regional heating stoves for equally local weather and well being advantages (Pearson et al., 2013).
Conclusions
p. 35. Given that household wood combustion for heating will continue in a lot of areas of the planet simply because of financial concerns and availability of other fuels, an urgent want exists to build and encourage the use of the lowest emission or ideal accessible combustion systems.
&nbspIt might be preferable in a lot of cases to target on making biomass-based residence heating much more successful and significantly less polluting rather than transitioning away from biomass to fossil fuels, presented the weather change implications of using fossil gas for heating.


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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.

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The Shifting Experience of Wood Stove Change-out Packages

Online Useful resource Center released to aid software professionals &amp buyers
States and counties are progressively seeking to wood stove adjust out applications to inspire people to give up previous, polluting wooden stoves for cleaner options.&nbsp In 2016, there ended up 34 stove adjust-out programs. The average incentive was about $ 900 to change and outdated wooden stove with a new 1, $ 1,300 for a pellet stove, $ one,500 for organic fuel stove and $ one,900 for a warmth pump.

Traits in 2016 alter-outs consist of much more plans only allowing old wooden stoves to be changed by pellet, gas or electric powered appliances more bounty applications that spend for decommissioning the two old and newer wood stoves much more packages necessitating or considering reduce particulate subject requirements for qualified stoves and enhanced documentation for stove retailers and program professionals.
Stove alter-out plans are typically in comparison to “cash-for-clunkers,” the $ three billion plan in 2009 to get more mature, far more polluting automobiles off the highway.&nbsp That system grew to become more controversial as software performance knowledge was evaluated. Stove alter-outs are also usually criticized for not delivering sufficient benefit for every greenback invested.&nbsp This On the web Stove Adjust-out Resource Center strives to support optimize advantages for nearby air top quality, collaborating households and the makers of cleaner, far more successful heating appliances.
This Useful resource Center was also developed to be a source for a nationwide adjust-out fund, like the federal diesel software to substitute older diesel engines. Several customers of Congress had been working on federal funding for a stove adjust-out fund and it is now unclear if that aim may be more tough under a Trump Administration.
“Stove modify-out applications are a wonderful tool for communities to decrease abnormal wooden smoke pollution but a lot of programs underperform,” explained John Ackerly, President of the Alliance for Inexperienced Heat.&nbsp “Best techniques created by revolutionary alter-out professionals need to be built-in into much more packages,” he extra.
Crucial elements of the On the web Resource Middle for Wooden Stove Change-outs consist of:
  • &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp&nbsp An in-depth examination of all 2016 alter-out packages
  • &nbsp &nbsp &nbspA zip code research feature for shoppers to locate change-out and incentive programs in their region (coming soon),
  • &nbsp &nbsp &nbspten Best Techniques for alter-out applications,
  • &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp&nbspTips for Homeowners, to navigate the approach of getting a wooden stove and keep expenses down.
  • &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbspSuggested educational movies
This On the web Resource Center is the most comprehensive summary of modify-out plans in the US with details about their budgets, eligibility demands and progressive characteristics.&nbsp It is primarily based on substantial analysis of every modify-out program and interviews with scores of adjust-out professionals, stove merchants and specialists. The Resource Center is an ongoing task that welcomes enter and corrections from all stakeholders.&nbsp Please send comments to info@forgreenheat.org.

This On the web Resource Middle was supported in portion by the Osprey Foundation. &nbspContent for the Source Centre was written by Melissa Bollman and John Ackerly, employees at the Alliance for Eco-friendly Heat. &nbspThe Alliance for Environmentally friendly Heat is an unbiased, non-profit group that promotes cleaner and more efficient wood and pellet heating.

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Wood and pellet stove businesses that you can trust – and these you can not

When it comes to listing accurate efficiency and BTU output on their websites, there are only a handful of companies that you can trust.
The Enviro EF2 pellet
stove is one example
of misleading
advertising.
If a consumer calculates the pay back period of am Enviro EF2 pellet stove based on the 87% efficiency listed on the Enviro website, they may be sorely disappointed. The independent lab that tested the stove found that the stove is only 58% efficient, meaning nearly half of the energy in the pellets goes up the chimney and does not heat the home.
Enviro is not alone in exaggerating their efficiency.  Most wood and pellet stove manufacturers use a variety of ways to say their stoves are more efficient than they actually are, and that they put out more heat than they actually do.  BTU output is the other area where manufacturers routinely report misleading data to consumers and in the case of BTU output, even the EPA is willing to post those exaggerated numbers on its website, further contributing to the problem.
These issues are coming to light in the wake of new EPA regulations that require more accurate reporting and require manufacturers to post the test reports of independent labs that certify wood and pellet stoves.  Many stove manufacturers are not complying with the new rules and will not post their certification reports for consumers to see, but some companies are complying.
A few companies stand out for providing the same efficiency numbers to their consumers as the independent test lab provided to the EPA.  They are: Blaze King, Kuma and Seraph, Travis and Woodstock Soapstone.   These companies also tend to make higher quality stoves and have good efficiency numbers.  Consumers can trust the efficiency numbers that these companies post on their websites and in their promotional materials.
The same is not true of other companies, including many leading brands.  Most companies list efficiencies using the European (LHV) method, which can produce efficiencies of more than 100% and make their stoves appear 5 – 8 points higher than they actually are.  But some companies go further, publishing efficiencies that are 15 – 29 points higher than they actually are.  The most extreme examples come from Enviro and American Energy Systems. Enviro posts 87% efficiency for their EF2 on their tax credit page, but the lab tested it at 58% efficiency, a 29 point difference. (The company did not reply to a query about the discrepancy.) American Energy Systems claims its Little Rascal pellet stove is 99% efficient, 28 points higher than 71% the lab posted.  (A company representative explained that when they say “efficiency” they mean combustion efficiency, not the thermal or heating efficiency that all other companies list.)
Another company, St. Croix pellet stoves, tells consumers their Hasting pellet stove is 83% efficient but the lab tested it at 66% efficient, a 17 point difference.  The largest stove maker in the country, Hearth & Home Technologies, that owns Dutchwest, Harman, Heatilator, Quadra-Fire, Vermont Castings and others brands, is notably absent in disclosing test lab reports or actual efficiencies of their products.
One of the foremost experts in the hearth industry is Dr. James Houck, an adjunct faculty member at the University of Portland in Oregon.  Houck used to work for Omni Test labs, the most well known test lab in the US.  He says, “Many of the pellet (and cordwood) stove efficiency values have been produced by commercial labs which optimized conditions and calculation methods.” 

A wood stove test lab.
Under the new EPA stove regulations, known as New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), labs are restrained from optimizing conditions and calculation methods and will be producing more accurate efficiency and BTU output numbers for consumers.  Still, labs are under pressure from their clients to produce the best possible emission, efficiency and BTU numbers, or they may take their business to another lab.
The new EPA rules are requiring the test labs to produce more accurate BTU output data, which is crucial for consumers to right size the appliance for their home.  The result will be that BTU figures posted by the EPA after May 2015 when the new rules began will be lower than the figures posted before May 2015. 
The EPA has not started enforcing many provisions of the 2015 regulations which are being ignored by many companies. And, its enforcement capabilities are slim, a fact that is not lost on the industry that is regulates. State agencies could help enforce the new regulations, particularly for manufacturers based in their states and if stakeholders in the state pressure them to do so.
Under the new rules, an independent lab testing the St. Croix Hastings pellet stove reported that it produced 7,000 – 27,000 BTU per hour.  However, the St. Croix website says the stove produces up 40,000 BTU per hour.  Many manufacturers used to use the BTU input, which is the amount of BTUs available in the fuel, rather than the BTU output from the stove.  But The EPA has been recording estimated and often exaggerated BTU figures on its list of certified stoves for many years and it will be a slow process for them to start recording more accurate BTU figures from new test reports.  The Alliance for Green Heat has urged the EPA to remove all exaggerated BTU data from their list of certified stoves and only post actual BTU output that is determined by an independent lab using an approved calculation.
“The problem with companies using all manner of efficiency and BTU calculations is there is a disincentive to report more accurate numbers that would make your stoves look less efficient and less powerful,” said John Ackerly, President of the Alliance for Green Heat, a consumer focused wood heating non-profit organization.  “The new EPA rules are starting to change what gets posted on its list of certified stoves, but manufacturers can still virtually post whatever they want on their websites and no state or federal agency monitors that, as they do with cars and most consumer appliances,” Ackerly said.
Some companies are beginning to post their lab reports on their websites, so consumers who want extensive technical details can have access to them.  The reports are dense, often long and hard to digest, but can provide useful insights for those who want very detailed, technical information.  Blaze King, Enviro, Kuma and St. Croix post test lab report for all their stoves, a move that shows a level of corporate transparency that is not common in the wood stove industry.  For St. Croix, however, those test lab reports reveal that they have far higher efficiency and BTU numbers in their promotional materials. Lab reports can also help consumers understand what air settings or power levels their stove is likely to be cleanest, dirtiest, most efficient and least efficient.
Lab reports from testing that was done prior to 2015 usually do not have efficiency numbers or have been whited out.  Some of the posted lab reports are from as early as 1989, are hundreds of pages long and by test labs that no longer exist such as EEMC, Lokee Labs and Northwest Testing.
Advice for consumers:  Beware of efficiency and BTU output claims on websites and promotional literature of wood and pellet stove manufacturers.  The only companies who accurately report their efficiencies on their websites that we are aware of are Blaze King, Kuma and Seraph, Travis and Woodstock Soapstone.  The EPA’s list of certified wood stoves contains more and more actual efficiency numbers and is one of the few reliable places for efficiency information.  Most companies, such as all the brands owned by Hearth & Home Technologies, are still holding out disclosing lab reports to consumers.  If you want to be certain you are buying a higher efficiency stove, buy one that discloses their actual efficiency on the list of EPA certified stoves.  For more information on this topic and a list of stoves that have actual efficiency numbers, check our blog post, A Review of Wood and Pellet Stove Efficiency Ratings.

(This blog will be periodically updated as more data becomes available or if the companies mentioned reply to queries)

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Review of wood pellets for BTU, moisture and ash content

The Internet is full of opinions and reviews of wood pellet brands.  However, data of actual properties of various wood pellet brands is hard to locate.  It cost under $ 100 for a lab to test ash, moisture and BTU content of a pellet. We tested 4 popular brands, along with corn kernels, to see the variability between brands.  Our overall conclusion: much less variability than we expected (except for the corn).
Click on the brand name to see the full lab report from Twin Ports Testing for American Wood Fibers, Pennington, Curran Renewable Energy, Nation’s Choice , and Takoma Park Silo corn.
Conventional wisdom is that you should buy a couple bags of pellets to see how they work on yourstove before buying a ton or more.  That’s good advice, as some stoves handle a much wider range of pellets, while others do not.  It’s especially good advice in light of the lab testing we did, that shows little variation between moisture, ash and BTU content of four popular brands.  
The four brands we bought – made by American Wood Fiber, Curran, Pennington’s, and Nation’s Choice – are all major brands but only represent a small fraction of available brands.  Two of them are PFI certified, which means that they must meet certain quality guarantees and cannot have more than 1.0% ash, 8.0% moisture, and 0.5% fines, among various other requirements.  All four brands of pellets we tested fell within the parameters required by PFI premium grade, for the criteria that we tested – ash and moisture.  We did not test for fines or for durability or bulk density or chlorides – things that can be important for performance.  The cost for testing those qualities is about $ 250, more than we wanted to spend for each test.
Pellet manufacturers, whether they are PFI certified or not, usually do not disclose actual BTU, ash or fines, but just say that they do not exceed a certain level. 
Ash content: Ash is one of the biggest concerns of consumers since high ash pellets can clog up some stoves and require more cleaning.  Of the four brands we tested, the ash content was relatively similar, ranging from about 0.3% to 0.6%, far below the acceptable level under the PFI certified standard of 1.0%.
BTUs: 
Whether your stove is 60% efficient or 80% efficient, you will get more heat from a pellet with more BTUs.  Some pellet brands may have up to 8,800 BTUs per pound and some only 8,000. Still, only a 9% difference, would be $ 250 a ton and $ 272 a ton.  The higher BTU pellets we tested had 8,439 BTUs per pound, 5% more than the lowest BTU brand, which had 8,011.  
Moisture content:
Moisture content varied even less than ash and BTU content between the four brands we tested. The low was 5.1% and the high was 5.8%.  PFI allows up to 8%.
Price:
Price on all these 4 brands can vary depending on the time of year, the location, the seller, and whether or not a ton is purchased. Pennington’s, Nation’s Choice, and Curran have all been available at big box outlets in the $ 250/ton range over the past several months.  The American Wood Fiber Ultra Premium White Pine is more expensive, as 100% softwood pellets tend to be, especially on the east coast.
Options for future testing
Testing and publishing the BTU, moisture and ash content of dozens of common wood pellet brands would be a great resource for consumers.  Please let us know if you agree or have suggestions about how to develop and maintain a reliable, independent data base of pellet characteristics.

This report and the pellet testing was supported in part by a grant from the Maryland-based Rouse Charitable Foundation.

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Congress to Extend Wood Heater Tax Credit through 2016

Labs test wood and pellet heaters for
efficiency and ones that are 75%
efficiency or  higher  can qualify
for the $ 300 tax credit.

The United States Congress is on the verge on finalizing a massive omnibus spending bill that would fund the government and provide tax breaks to businesses and individuals.  Among them is the $ 300 tax credit to purchase a wood heating appliance.  The bill extends that credit through Dec. 31, 2016 and is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2015.

In a far more widely anticipated move, Congress is poised to extend the 30% tax credit for residential solar panels through 2019 and then gradually reduce it.  This credit was set to expire at the end of 2016 and offers that industry a level of support and certainty for strong growth.
For wood and pellet heaters, the bill extends the $ 300 tax credit, contained in Section 25C of the IRS tax code, which states taxpayers are entitled to a $ 300 tax credit for the purchase of a wood or pellet heating appliance that is 75% efficient or greater.  Consumers need to obtain a certificate from the manufacturer, stating that the appliance is qualified for the credit.
For consumers who purchased a wood or pellet stove in 2015, or who will do so in 2016, they will likely be entitled to the $ 300 credit if they have not used up their $ 500 lifetime maximum credit for energy efficient property. 
For wood, pellet stove, and boiler manufacturers, the process of issuing a certificate claiming their appliance is 75% efficient may be more complicated than in the past.  In previous years, manufacturers claimed that every single stove they made was at least 75% efficient, flouting the letter and intent of the law, which was to only qualify stoves at 75% efficiency or higher, measured by the lower heating value (LHV). As of May 15, 2015 all stoves and boilers certified in the US are tested for efficiency using the CSA B415.1-10 efficiency test.  This efficiency test provides a guideline for how to test and not all stoves will achieve an efficiency of 75%.
“Higher efficiency wood and pellet heaters deserve renewable energy incentives to help American families reduce reliance on fossil fuels and to encourage companies to build higher efficiency appliances,” said John Ackerly, President of the Alliance for Green Heat, an organization that advocates for wood and pellet heating. “In the past, some in industry has made a mockery of this tax credit, misleading tens of thousands of consumers into thinking they are buying higher efficiency stoves.  Its time to start measuring efficiency and reporting it honestly and only qualifying those heaters that are 75% efficient or higher, using the lower heating value,” Ackerly said.
The Alliance for Green Heat estimates that up to half of all wood and pellet stoves and boilers could meet the 75% efficiency threshold, giving consumers a wide range of choices.  Appliances that are 75% efficient using the European lower heater value (LHV) are usually between 69 – 71% efficient using the North American higher heating value (HHV).  A leading industry expert, Rick Curkeet concluded in a 2008 letter to an industry trade association that “the intent of the solid fuel appliance incentive program recently enacted by Congress is … to require a minimum of 69.8% efficiency.”

Stove manufacturers do not have to publicly disclose their efficiencies and very few of them doA few stove companies, such as Blaze King, Jotul, Kuma, Seraph, Travis, Woodstock Soapstone publicly disclose actual efficiencies of most of their models on the EPA website and almost all of those models appear to qualify for the tax credit.  The EPA considers higher heating value as a more accurate measure of efficiency for devices in the U.S. and therefore uses only those number on its list of EPA certified wood and pellet stoves.  
Unlike other heating and cooling appliances, prior to May 2015 wood and pellet heating appliances did not have to test or report efficiencies and there are still few accepted norms on advertising practices.  Websites and promotional materials of many major stove brands contain exaggerated efficiency claims, some of which may come from the company’s internal laboratory, not from a reputable, third party lab.  

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Legislation repealing EPA wood heater regulations passes House of Representatives; Obama promises veto

29 Republican House members
sponsored the bill to repeal the new
EPA heater regulations
An energy bill passed the House of Representatives with an amendment that repeals the EPA’s new residential wood heater regulations.  The bill is not likely to pass the Senate and President Obama vowed to veto it, if it comes to his desk. 
The passage of a bill that includes repealing the EPA’s residential wood heater regulations came as a surprise to most in the hearth industry, as well as in relevant state and federal agencies.
The bill, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015, H.R. 8, was passed the House of December 3 with 240 Republican votes and 9 democrats.  In addition to core issues in bill, it repealed more than 20 energy and energy efficiency studies and programs, including the EPA’s wood heater regulations which “shall have no force or effect and shall be treated as if such rule had never been issued.”
The underlying bill, H.R. 1986, dubbed “the Stop EPA Overregulation of Rural Americans,” had 29 Republicans and no Democrat co-sponsors.  The sponsors of the bill are almost all from very rural parts of the country but members of Congress representing districts with the highest levels of wood heating did not co-sponsor the bill.  Most of the sponsors come from the southern half of the United States and likely reflect their deep-seated opposition to the EPA regulations generally.
Some of the sponsors of the bill refer to a “War on Rural America.”  One of the most vocal advocates for the bill, Congressman Jason Smith (R-MO-8) repeatedly says the EPA is regulating existing stoves, not just new ones. He said in a statement that there are 12 million stoves in 2.4 million homes, probably referring to the distinction between the estimated total of 12 million stoves and the 2.4 million homes that use wood or pellets as a primary heating source. 
None of the industry groups representing sectors of the hearth industry, including Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), Biomass Thermal Energy Council (BTEC), and Pellet Fuels Institute (PFI), supported H.R. 1986, and it is unclear if any major company in the hearth industry supported the bill. One small Michigan company, Eco-Fab Industries that makes Eco-Maxx outdoor wood stoves which do not meet EPA emission regulations and cannot be sold in the residential market after Jan. 1, 2016, supports the bill.
Hearth industry leaders indicate that they are vested in broad parts of the NSPS and think that a judicial challenge to certain parts is the best strategy for the solution they want. 

HPBA had mounted a legislative push in 2014, urging members of Congress to sponsor H.R. 4407that would have prohibited the EPA from setting emission regulations lower than 4.5 grams per hour.  Some of the members who supported H.R. 4407 became co-sponsors of H.R. 1986.

“Thousands of hard working industry, non-profit and agency officials put years of work into these regulations and they are truly a compromise of competing interests,” said John Ackerly, President of the Alliance for Green Heat.  “If no major stakeholder group is supporting the repeal of the regulations, why is the House of Representatives voting to do that?” Ackerly added.

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