EPA releases new performance standards for residential wood heaters

February 9, 2015 |

In DC, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its new rules for residential wood and pellet heaters. The rules, which are expected to take effect in approximately two months, address several key issues with labels and high-performance stoves, boiler testing, and stove emission standards, as detailed below:

Labels and high performance stoves: The EPA took some key steps to address the lack of recognition for high performing appliances.  Notably, stoves that test with cordwood in the next 5 years can use a special EPA label that will alert consumers that the device is designed and tested for use like the consumer will use it. This shift is possibly as important than just lowering emission standards for wood stoves. Along these lines, the EPA is also allowing stoves that already meet the 2020 standards, to use a special label so consumers can more easily recognize these higher performing stoves.  However, he EPA removed the long-standing requirement that all stoves have a consumer hang-tag that helps consumers better appreciate the basic differences between all stoves on the showroom floor.

Boiler testing: Another step forward is EPA’s recognition of the European test method EN303-5 to certify European style indoor wood and pellet boilers that have been accepted by Renewable Heat New York (RHNY).  Also boilers certified by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) will be automatically deemed EPA certified.  This is another step to recognizing higher performance equipment. NYSERDA deserves credit for the R&D, test method and other funding that EPA and DOE should have been doing to develop higher performance equipment.  These parts of the new EPA rule will help give consumers more options to buy cleaner and more efficient devices.

Stove emission standards: As expected, the EPA is staying with the de facto status quo for the next 5 years, at 4.5 grams an hour (g/hr).  The 2 g/hr standard for stoves as of 2020 is fair and reasonable.  As the EPA explained in the rule “nearly 90 percent of current catalytic/hybrid stoves and over 18 percent of current non-catalytic stoves” already meet the Step 2 emission limit of 2 g/hr. For those manufacturers who have to redesign stoves, it may be beneficial to use the opportunity to redesign to use cordwood and to reduce start-up and fugitive emissions.  The optional Step 2 certification test for cordwood at 2.5 g/hr represents a very creative and positive approach by the EPA to move towards required cord wood testing.

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Category: Policy

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