New EPA Standards Slash Wood-Fired Heater Emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued updated standards for wood fired heaters.

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The EPA wood heating appliance emissions standards reduce smoke by two thirds compared to current levels set in 1988. Alison Davis with EPA’s air quality standards office stresses that the new standards, which take effect this spring, only apply to newly manufactured units.

“If you have an existing wood stove or other wood heaters, this rule does not affect you, you can continue to use that,” Davis said.

Davis says the EPA is allowing retailers until the end of this year to sell off wood stove models that do not meet the new emissions standard, but adds that most units already do.

“The majority of adjustable burn rate wood stoves sold in the U.S. today actually meet that limit,” Davis said. “So we think that we’ll have a lot of wood stoves that are already available that will meet the limit.”

The new standards also cover previously unregulated units, including wood fired boilers, but Davis says some of those appliances are also already up to the new standard.

“A number of manufacturers have been participating in a voluntary program with EPA to make cleaner units available, and a number of those will already meet the step-1 standards for those heaters,” Davis said.

A second tier of stricter wood heater emissions standards will take effect in 2020, covering new units manufactured and sold after that date. States are allowed to additionally limit emissions, and Cindy Heil, with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation air quality division says recently updated state standards for new wood and pellet stoves are initially stricter.

“DEC’s standard is a 2.5 gram per hour from 2015 to 2020, where the EPA standard is 4.5,” Heil said. “But then 2020, our standards would remain the same at 2.5 and EPA’s would drop to 2.0.”

Heil says that’s also the case for Alaska’s wood boiler emissions standard, and that the state will have to revise its wood and pellet stove standards in 2020 to come in line with federal regulations.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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