What do almost all the festive songs about the holiday period have in common? A warm, cozy fireplace. Wood heat has become a symbol of comfort and closeness in our culture, but fire power isn’t just for show. We’ve been using wood heat for centuries to cook our food and heat our homes.
Until recently, we weren’t aware of just how harmful wood heat can be if left unchecked. Older wood stoves significantly contribute to air pollution, and emit toxins that can increase our likelihood of developing respiratory diseases.
Luckily, times have changed, and new information about emissions has brought about important regulations for wood heat. New wood stoves approved by the EPA are much more energy efficient than models produced during the 1990s, and require a fraction of wood fuel to provide the same amount of heat. In fact some of the best pellet stove also emit fewer toxic air particles such as carbon dioxide and methane.
Eco-Friendly Wood Heat Technology
The EPA’s required efficiency rating for wood stoves, determined in 2005, currently stands at 75%. However, in 2015, the EPA made some additional changes to their emissions requirements for wood stoves. The EPA now requires manufacturers to produce stoves with emissions of 4.5 grams of fine particle matter per hour. This replaces the previous threshold of 7.5 g/hr. To give manufacturers time to adjust, these changes will be implemented over the next three years, until 2020.
There are already some wood stoves out there that comply with the new regulations. We’ve compiled some of the most eco-friendly wood stove options directly from the EPA’s list of approved wood stoves, updated in December 2016.
Blaze King Chinook 30.1
The Chinook 30.1 has one of the lowest particle emissions of any wood stove on the market at just 0.8 g/hr. It’s also got an 81% heating efficiency, with 30 hours of burn time on a low setting.
Blaze King Ashford 30.1
The Ashford model has a higher efficiency compared to the Chinook at 86%, while still maintaining a 0.8 g/hr average particle emission. The Ashford is capable of heating up to 2,400 sq ft, meaning it can heat bigger areas at higher efficiency with fewer emissions.
Hearthstone Tula 8190
Boasting an 88% efficiency rating and an average of 2.5 g/hr in particle emissions, the Heartstone Tula8190 is one of the most ecologically friendly and efficient models on the market today.
Hearthstone Homestead Soapstone
The Homestead Soapstone has a slightly lower heating efficiency compared to the Tula 8190 at 83.5%. It makes up for its lower heating efficiency with a reduced particular matter output of just 1.9 g/hr. It’s also capable of heating up to 1800 sq ft.
Pacific Energy Super 27
At 82.6%, the Super 27 is marginally less efficient than the other models listed here. Its particle emissions are also slightly higher at 3.4 g/hr. Even so, the Super 27 can heat up to 2,000 sq ft of space, making it a good option for those needing to heat bigger areas.
Maintaining Your New Stove
Purchasing a new energy efficient wood stove is only half the battle. You have to know how to maintain your new stove to maximize its heating efficiency and drive down particle emissions.
Invest in a moisture meter. Always test your wood using a moisture meter before lighting it. Burning wet or moist wood will increase toxic emissions while decreasing heating efficiency. Your moisture meter should read less than 20%.
Use the right kindling. You should never burn the contents of your recycling bin in your wood stove. While these materials will provide heat for a short time, they’ll also increase harmful emissions. You should only use seasoned, dry wood in your stove.
Purchase a carbon monoxide detector. This is important for those who are particularly concerned about their particle emissions. A digital carbon monoxide detector is the easiest to use and understand. Place the detector somewhere you’ll be able to hear it if it goes off while you’re sleeping.
Read the manual. You’ll need to keep your stove clean if you want to maintain the particle emissions stated in its specifications. Different stoves have different cleaning requirements, so make sure you read your stove’s manual to avoid damaging your stove during cleaning.
Use the proper cleaning agent (or none at all). If you use a chemical agent to clean your stove, you’ll burn those chemicals with your next wood fire, which can create higher toxic emissions. Never use standard glass cleaner to clean glass stoves.
Biomass Tax Credit
It’s that time of year again – tax season is upon us. If you purchased a wood stove in the past two years, you’ll be filling out Form 5695 to claim your $300 biomass tax credit. This credit applies to taxpayers who have made their home more energy efficient by implementing renewable energy heating.
The EPA speculates that its new regulations for wood stoves will provide upwards of $7 billion a year in benefits by reducing the cost of medical conditions related to wood heat emissions.How will this affect the biomass tax credit for 2017? That remains to be seen, especially considering the recent change in EPA leadership.
In 2015, President Obama extended the biomass tax credit to the end of 2016. There’s no word yet on whether the credit will be extended again by the new administration, or whether the amount of the credit will be increased in accordance with new manufacturer requirements.
New developments in wood heat technology aren’t just good for the environment – they’re good for your wallet, too. Newer wood stoves can cut your annual energy bill in half, and the biomass tax credit will give you an extra incentive to make the switch. Thanks to the EPA’s new regulations on wood heat, you can still have the warmth and comfort of a wood fire while reducing your carbon footprint and saving precious cash at the same time.
Article submitted by Community Writer.