You may have heard on the news about the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines related to wood stoves for use in the home heating. But what exactly does this mean — and how will this impact you?
At United States Stove Company, we know that any type of environmental regulation, or governmental regulation for that matter, can be difficult to parse through and understand. That’s why we’re taking a few minutes to break down the answers to some commonly asked questions about the new regulations.
Q: What exactly are these new EPA regulations about wood stoves?
A: In 2015, the EPA enhanced its previous standards for residential wood heaters. The new guidelines, known as the New Source Performance Standardsfor Residential Wood Heaters called for all newly manufactured wood stoves and wood pellet stoves to produce no more than 2 grams of smoke per hour (2.5 for cordwood tested woodstoves). The rule has been phased in, with the expectation that all manufacturers meet this final step of guidelines by May 2020.
These guidelines are intended to reduce exposure to particulate matter and other air pollutants, which, over time, may cause health issues related to both the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
The new 2020 EPA regulation represents a decreased allowed amount from the previous standard, which allowed for 4.5 grams per hour. It also represents a change in what stoves are incorporated under the standard — previously, most wood pellet stoves were exempt, but that is no longer the case.
Q: I have a wood stove in my home. How will this regulation impact me?
A: Millions of American households are currently heated by a wood stove or a wood pellet stove. So if your home relies on a wood stove for heat, you are not alone!
What does this standard mean for you — and for the wood stove in your home?
Well, the short of it is: It doesn’t mean anything to you now. Your current stove may continue operating for years, and its use in your home is fine, even under new EPA guidelines. There are, however, programs in various regions of the country offering financial incentives to purchase new certified woodstoves and replace your old uncertified heater. New certified woodstoves are more efficient in their wood use, meaning you burn less for the same amount of heat, and produce less harmful emissions. Be sure to check with the local codes in your area as some jurisdictions regulate above and beyond the EPA standard.
Previously manufactured wood stoves and wood pellet stoves are not affected by the application of the new EPA standard. When it’s time to purchase a new wood stove, though, that’s when the standard comes into play.
Q: If I’m in the market for a new wood stove, what should I be looking for in terms of meeting the new regulation standards?
A: If the time has come to purchase a replacement wood pellet stove — or if you’re looking to purchase a wood stove for the first time — the new EPA standards will be in place.
What should you look for when you’re shopping? It’ll be rather simple: Companies and retailers will no longer be able to sell wood stoves that don’t meet the standards after May 2020. So, in theory, you shouldn’t find non-compliant stoves available for purchase.
However, you should be looking for a wood stove or wood pellet stove labeled as “EPA-certified,”meaning that the wood-burning appliance meets the EPA clean air standards. Breaking it down further, that means that it requires less wood to create heat and releases less smoke than previously certified stoves.
In order to obtain that certification, these stoves will have been independently tested to ensure they meet the standard for emission limits.
When shopping, you can look for a label on the back of the stove or you can reference the owner’s manual.
Q: What has U.S. Stove done to align with the new EPA standards?
A: While these guidelines may be news to you, they’re familiar to us. We’ve been working behind-the-scenes to create and manufacture new stove products for years in order to ensure they comply with the emission guidelines.
Our products are innovative — instead of adding what are known as “catalytic combustion devices” that burn off the smoke from a fire, our engineers have developed methods that don’t involve catalytic technology. This essentially means that we’ve figured out a way to recycle the smoke created by the fire through a secondary burn process, eliminating visible smoke.
That may seem overly technical, but the gist of it is this — our products will ensure your home is heated in a way that’s within the new EPA standards while remaining cost-efficient.