Effect of New 2015 EPA Law on Existing Wood Stoves and Pellet Stove Users

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed updates to its air emissions standards for new residential wood heaters. This move will help strengthen the agency’s requirements for new wood stoves plus will also develop air standards for new pellet stoves and several other types of new wood heaters for the first time. This will take affect from 2015 up to a 5 year period.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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 3rd State 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.

  1. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. The proposed rule will include test methods that manufacturers would have to use to determine particle material emissions and demonstrate compliance.
  3. 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.

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