Looking for a wood stove or heater? Consider these important factors when you do.
Purchase only a 2020 EPA-certified stove or central wood heater. Residential wood-burning appliances sold or installed in Minnesota after May 15, 2020 must be certified to meet the EPA 2020 emission standards. Use the EPA-certified wood stove database to find residential wood heaters certified by the EPA:
- Wood-fired room heater models such as woodstoves, fireplace inserts, built-in wood heaters, and wood pellet stoves
- Central heaters such as hydronic heaters (outdoor wood boilers) and forced-air furnaces
Purchase from a reputable dealer and have it installed by an NFI-certified technician. Buy the right size for your home and have it properly installed for your comfort and safety. For appliance installation look for a National Fireplace Institute (NFI) certified professional.
Consider the most efficient appliance available. It pays to check and compare the listed emissions of stoves that you are considering; often the lowest-polluting appliance is also the most efficient, meaning that they provide more heat per cord of wood. The improved efficiency means a cord of wood will go farther, and you will spend less time chopping wood and re-loading your stove.
Consider a gas-fired replacement – it is the most efficient.
Check if you qualify for financial assistance. Programs like Environmental Initiative's Project Stove Swap provide financial incentives to consumers and businesses to replace older wood heating appliances with more efficient, less-polluting technologies.
Before you shop, do an energy audit to analyze your overall heating demand. A home energy audit and weatherizing of your home will help ensure that you are not losing energy through windows, doors, cracks or poor insulation. Making energy-related improvements to your home will save energy, money, and can help make your home more comfortable. Home energy audits may include free installation of materials such as programmable or smart thermostats and door and attic hatch weather stripping, in addition to LED light bulbs, water heater insulation, and low flow showerheads.
Check with your electricity or natural gas utility about available services. Programs also have no-cost options for income-qualified participants. Resources to assist homeowners with energy audits and energy-saving strategies:
Central heating by heating water
Wood-fired boilers, which are commonly called outdoor wood furnaces, heat water that is transferred in pipes to where the heat is used. Consulting with experienced heating contractors will help determine proper sizing of the outdoor wood boiler. Consider if it is worthwhile to have propane or oil backup fuel, rather than oversizing wood boilers. The boiler works best if it doesn’t have to be throttled back, an operating condition that can produce the most smoke and pollution.
Determine if your community has adopted restrictions on the installation and use of outdoor wood boilers. These requirements can include limitations on their use during warmer months, required stack heights that differ from the manufacturer's recommendations and set back distances from your home as well as your neighbors'.
Central heating by heating air
All forced-air, wood-fired furnaces must be certified as meeting federal pollution standards. These new emission standards make newly installed furnaces significantly cleaner and improve air quality in communities where people burn wood for heat.
Fireplaces and retrofits
Fireplaces that are designed as built-in heaters must be EPA-certified to be sold. Consider a fireplace insert for your old, conventional fireplace that likely doesn’t actually heat the room. Most new fireplaces are for enjoyment, rather than heat. Most aren't required to meet federal pollution emission standards.
EPA offers a voluntary partnership program with manufacturers of fireplaces designed to burn cleaner. If a fireplace model is tested and shown to emit less than the voluntary program emission limits, EPA will list the model as “qualified” and the manufacturer can highlight this by advertising the model with a qualified hangtag. Fireplace retrofit devices, designed to reduce fireplace pollutant emissions, can similarly be qualified. For more information, visit EPA's cleaner burning “qualified” fireplaces and retrofit devices.
Firepits, portable fireplaces, and chimneys
Some manufacturers sell wood-burning firepits designed with better air flow for improved combustion. These may burn cleaner. Gas-burning firepits are the cleanest choice for local air quality. Check your local regulations about using firepits in your neighborhood.