Updated Ruling on 2/4/15
The federal Environmental Protection Agency released long-awaited rules aimed at reducing air pollution from wood-burning heaters, including wood stoves, pellet stoves and both indoor and outdoor wood boilers.
The rules in general will require many stove makers to begin producing heaters that are less polluting beginning this year, and up to 70 percent cleaner by 2020. The new emission limits target fine particles and toxic compounds associated with smog and various health concerns.
The new standards update existing emissions levels set in 1988. Since then, new technology has made it possible to build wood heaters that are more efficient and less polluting, the agency says.
The new rules don’t cover stoves or heaters already in people’s homes, nor do they extend to indoor fireplaces.
The EPA rules also allow time for stores to sell stoves that meet the 1988 levels, through the end of 2015.
The wood-heating trend is good for cutting energy bills, but not for air quality. Older wood stoves, especially, churn out more of the pollution that aggravates asthma and other respiratory conditions than the oil and gas heating systems they’re meant to supplement or replace.
The new rules are based on thousands of comments, a public hearing and months of input from businesses. They have been of intense interest to Wood Heating Solutions.
Randy Baetz, the owner of Wood Heating Solutions, said that the new rules won’t have an impact right away, because all WoodMaster and Nature’s Comfort stoves burn much cleaner than the 1988 standards for noncatalytic stoves of 7.5 grams per hour. But the EPA is calling for emissions to be cut to 2 grams per hour in 2020.
The trade group, the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, had a mixed reaction. It applauded the EPA’s decision to phase in standards for warm-air wood furnaces and give manufacturers time to develop and test cleaner models.
“Conversely,” the group said in a statement, “we believe the agency missed the mark in other areas. For example, some of the future standards proposed for wood-burning appliances do not meet the government’s duty to set standards based on data that shows both a tangible benefit to consumers and cost-effectiveness.”
The association added: “Our industry does not oppose new emission standards. We simply want to ensure that these future standards produce a real clean-air benefit that consumers can afford. We will continue to work with EPA and other stakeholders to address our remaining concerns.”
The new wood-burning rules were generally embraced, however, by an advocacy group in Bethesda, Maryland, that promotes cleaner-burning technologies.
“Overall, we think the EPA did a good job and released a fair rule that includes many compromises between industry and air quality agencies,” said John Ackerly, president of the Alliance for Green Heat. “We think these rules are good for consumers and will not drive prices up hardly at all, but will result in more efficient appliances that will save consumers time and money.”
Ackerly called the 2-gram-an-hour standard for stoves in 2020 “fair and reasonable,” and likely to lead to more and improved catalytic stoves.
“We think delaying the standards for warm air furnaces for one to two years was a mistake,” he said.
But there is a huge uproar from people that are actually using wood stoves and wood heaters as we speak. Is the EPA trying to freeze millions of Americans relying on wood stoves and wooden fireplaces for heat and energy in the winter? The rule is very straightforward. It wants to reduce air emissions for new residential wood heaters and because of this; the rule will not affect existing wood heaters and wood stoves at all.
Another question raised by consumers is will the rule affect wood heaters and wood stoves that are being sold today? The same answer applies; the new rule will not affect stoves and heaters that run on wood which are currently on sale today. But of course, with the new rule to be implemented in 2015 for new wood stoves and heaters, why would anyone purchase non-compliant stoves at all?
So technically, this rule readies stove and heater manufacturers as they develop new products that use wood for their customers. It also makes sure that consumers are ready too especially consumers that are looking at purchasing new stoves and heaters in the near future.
Here are the proposed requirements of the EPA regarding new wood stoves as well as pellet stoves.
- Traditional wood stoves are made from cast iron or steel and utilize split logs to provide heat. With the new EPA’s proposed updates, the amount of particle pollution or particle matter will significantly reduce and this will reduce the amount of particle pollution, also known as particulate matter (PM). The update will apply on two types of newly manufactured wood stoves: adjustable burn‐rate woodstoves; and single burn‐rate woodstoves. Pollutants that are also present in wood smoke are also expected to reduce as the new rules are implemented.
- Another type of wood stoves is stoves with an adjustable burn rate. These are covered by the existing EPA requirements. These stoves are designed to allow the user to efficiently adjust the air flow to regulate the rate at which wood burns inside the system. In the new EPA rule, efficiency of these stoves will be strengthened and limits for these stoves in two steps which will happen over a five‐year period.
Step 1 – particulate matter emissions limits would be identical to those currently required by the 3rdState of Washington for non-catalytic stoves. Most adjustable‐rate stoves that are EPA‐certified woodstoves manufactured in the U.S. already meet the Washington state emission standards. EPA is proposing to allow manufacturers of adjustable burn‐rate wood stoves that are already EPA certified to continue manufacturing those stoves until the current certification expires. This will facilitate smooth transition to a cleaner stove and is expected to happen in a maximum of five years.
Step 2 – woodstoves would have to meet strengthened emissions limits. When it comes to single burn wood stoves that are not covered by EPA’s current requirements, these are designed so the owner does not need to adjust the air flow. These would have to meet the same emission limits as adjustable burn‐rate stoves.
- Pellet stoves are stoves that look like wood stoves use fuel made of ground, dried wood and other biomass wastes. These materials are compressed in the form of pellets. Pellet stoves may or may not need electricity to operate. Most models of pellet stoves are exempted from EPA current New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for Residential Wood Heaters. But under the proposed rule, all pellet stoves should meet the same emission limits as for woodstoves along with using the same two‐step process.
EPA is currently seeking comment on phasing in the proposed emissions limits over an eight year period.
How the EPA determines compliance to the new rule is met:
- Each wood stove and pellet stove model line that is subjected to the proposed rules would be required to demonstrate compliance. This is done through performance testing and tests are very similar to requirements of the current wood stove regulations. This certification program requires one representative appliance to be tested by an accredited laboratory for compliance of an entire model line.
- The proposed rule will include test methods that manufacturers would have to use to determine particle material emissions and demonstrate compliance.
- To strengthen compliance assurance and consumer confidence, the proposed standards require testing by international laboratories and certification bodies. A review of the tests will also be done by EPA and results will be made available through to consumers in its official website.
Now that we have covered the epa wood stove ban, this page will look at an epa certified wood furnace.
The EPA phase 2 wood stove from WoodMaster — the CleanFire 400.
Keep in mind that EPA wood burning is good for the environment!!!
More EPA units are coming soon. Stay tuned for continuous updates.