If you’re thinking of buying a new high-efficiency wood-burning heating appliance this year, you’ll want to make sure that it meets U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards.

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown some uncertainty into which version of the standards are mandatory for now, but TN Fireplace & Chimney, the Knoxville fireplace expert, is here to help our clients stay up to date on changes.

New, tougher EPA standards for new high-efficiency wood-burning appliances officially went into effect in May, but the agency is considering allowing the retail sale of older models of appliances that don’t meet them to continue until late in 2020.

What Does High-Efficiency Mean?

High-efficiency wood heating appliances are designed differently than traditional open-hearth fireplaces or wood stoves. According to the EPA, this means using specific design features to boost efficiency, include:fireplace

· Firebox insulation

· A large baffle to produce a longer, hotter gas flow path

· Small holes above the fuel in the firebox to introduce pre-heated combustion air into the chamber

All in all, these features allow the wood in the firebox to burn hotter while producing less emissions and requiring less fuel than normal appliances.

What are the Standards?

The EPA’s revisions to the “2015 New Source Performance Standards for New Residential Wood Heaters, New Hydronic Heaters and Forced-Air Furnaces” require that any adjustable-rate wood burning stove produce less than 2.5 grams of carbon per hour.

The standards are meant to benefit homeowners and the environment. According to estimates, boosting the efficiency of new wood-burning stoves will mean an overall 40,600-ton reduction in cancerous, unhealthy emissions annually in the United States — a 25% reduction from previous levels.

Other Options

There is a drawback to the new standards that stove manufacturers are continuing to work at overcoming. The reduction in carbon means flue gas temperatures are lower than in traditional stoves.

This can result in drafting problems under certain circumstances as well as causing the stoves to produce less heat output than intended.

While retailers were no longer supposed to sell stoves that didn’t meet the new standards starting on May 15, the EPA is reconsidering the deadline because of the economic disruption caused by the pandemic. The agency is considering amending the rules to continue allowing retail sales of older models of wood-heating devices until Nov. 30, 2020.

Need more information? If you live in the Greater Knoxville area, contact TN Fireplace & Chimney, the Knoxville fireplace expert, online or at (865) 922-2262 to talk about your options for high-efficiency wood-burning appliances. We’re glad to help you pick the model that will best meet your needs.