There is a lot of talks today about the Environmental Protection Agency and its plans to certify wood stove ranges. This initiative is in response to the increasing demand for cleaner and more efficient heating systems. As a consumer, I can understand the desire for better stoves. After all, who doesn’t want a stove that burns cleaner than the last one they used? But, are EPA-certified stoves another emissions scandal?
Not quite. EPA has actually implemented a number of quality standards on wood stoves to ensure their high quality and consistent heat output. So, are EPA-certified stoves another emissions scandal? Actually, not at all.
EPA began requiring stove manufacturers to show proof of compliance when testing their equipment for compliance with federal pollution and air quality standards. The agency then conducted a study comparing home and commercial wood-burning stoves. Home wood-burning stoves produced about half as many emissions as a commercial stove. In fact, about a third of the variance was due to the difference in heating element type. It was found that an unqualified contractor created the myth that wood heaters produce more ozone than they do.
EPA then conducted two more studies comparing home and commercial ovens. Again, it was found that unqualified contractors created this myth that home stoves release more ozone than commercial ovens do. In both studies, the unqualified contractor had recommended that his choice of the oven be used for cooking foods that are highly toxic. These tests were not enough for EPA to certify that the stove being tested was emitting the proper amount of ozone.
So, EPA has now included oven testing as part of its overall quality assessment for home heating systems. It has also issued rules and regulations for stoves, fireplaces, appliances, chimneys, flues, and smokestacks. Each stove has to have specific tests that determine if the design or manufacture is adequate for its intended purpose. For example, if an appliance is to be used as a hot plate but the flame is not large enough to cover the plate, it must be designed so that a medium-size flame can adequately heat the plate. If an appliance is to be used as a grill but the space is too small to hold one, it must be designed so that the coals are at least four feet away from the burner. Furnaces and other items that use gas have to meet the same specifications.
Are EPA-certified wood-burning stoves another alternative to wood? Not really. Some stoves emit more ozone than others. There is no way to know which ones will emit more and which ones will be less emitting. Since it is possible for some people to be allergic to some types of woods and others to be allergic to none at all, this problem could be a concern. Also, not every stove is made in the United States, either.
Are EPA-certified stoves another safe option? In general, they are safe. However, the use of some high-emitting appliances, such as stoves or fireplaces, should be limited because there is an increased risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide poisoning may not only lead to death; it can also be a serious condition in which breathing symptoms include rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and severe headaches.
Are EPA-certified stoves another way to save money? Yes. If you have a fireplace or outdoor stove at home, it is a good idea to buy the EPA-certified version.
How many types of stoves or fireplaces are there? There are several different kinds, including those that use wood and those that use other types of fuel, such as gas, coal, or petroleum-based products. Do you know if your current heating system or your new fireplace or stove will work with any of these products? It depends on the kind of fuel the appliance uses. Some products will only work with a specific fuel. You should also ask the retailer about compatibility issues.
How do you maintain the unit? One of the most important things to remember when using any kind of fire or stove is that a stove or fireplace should be checked regularly for problems and maintained properly. If you are wondering if your particular appliance needs to be repaired or replaced because of problems with carbon monoxide poisoning, you should contact a local HVAC contractor as soon as possible. He can tell you whether it would be better to fix the stove or replace it, or what exactly needs to be done to ensure that it works correctly. If you have an older stove, you might also need to hire a chimney sweep to clean out your chimney on a regular basis to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Where should I buy these stoves and how much are they going to cost? These stoves are available from a number of different retailers, including traditional brick-and-mortar stores and Internet sellers. Prices vary according to brand and size, so comparing prices online before making your purchase is a great idea.