EPA Regulations Seek to Rein in Emissions from Wood Burning Heaters

Posted: September 30, 2016


Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated its clean air standards for residential wood heaters, with the intent of making new wood-heating units burn significantly cleaner through new emissions standards.

These first-ever federal air standards for previously unregulated new wood heaters cover outdoor and indoor wood-fired boilers (also known as hydronic heaters), indoor wood-fired forced air furnaces, and single burn-rate woodstoves.

According to the EPA, the new standards require new woodstoves and heaters to operate about 80 percent cleaner than current models. This will lead to important air quality and public health improvements in communities across the country.

The EPA based its decision on the fact that smoke from residential wood heaters can increase toxic air pollution, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and soot to levels that pose serious health concerns.

The EPA is following the lead of a variety of municipalities across the country in attempting to restrict emissions from burning wood. As one example, Palo Alto, Calif. has actually banned wood-burning fireplaces or stoves in new construction. Other cities in the western half of the country restrict residential wood-burning when air quality is threatened.

Manufacturers say these new regulations for emissions most likely will make woodstoves more expensive or even difficult to find.

For North Carolinians looking for alternatives to wood heaters, propane hearth products and furnaces offer a cleaner-burning, healthier option. Propane stoves, fireplaces and furnaces are more efficient and convenient than woodstoves, and they run on a fuel that’s easily available even in rural areas of the state.

Manufacturers remain uncertain what the future holds for wood heater prices and availability. But it’s clear that propane heating products will now play an even bigger role in bringing clean-burning, affordable warmth to North Carolina homes and businesses for many years to come.