EPA's regulations for woodstoves affect those built after July 1, 1988. EPA prohibits manufacturers and commercial owners to sell, offer to sell, or advertise to sell a non-EPA certified woodstove or a new stove that does not have a permanent label affixed to it or a stove that has not been tested when required. A commercial owner means any person who owns or controls a wood heater in the course of the manufacture, importation, distribution, or sale of the wood heater.
Although the federal regulation does not prohibit the individual sale of noncertified woodstoves, many cities have adopted local ordinances prohibiting their sale, installation, and operation. Some cities also have implemented restrictions that prohibit issuing building permits for the installation of a used noncertified woodstove.
EPA requires that woodstoves built after July 1, 1988, be affixed with the following two labels:
- A temporary label with information on the compliance status of the model, the particulate matter emission rate, overall thermal efficiency, heat output range, and possibly the overall efficiency of the model.
- A permanent label with the month and year the woodstove was manufactured, model name or number, and serial number. If the woodstove is equipped with catalytic combustors, the permanent label also should indicate the catalytic combustor's inspection and maintenance needs. The permanent label must not be altered, defaced, or removed. If you are looking to purchase a woodstove, check to ensure this label has not been removed.
The following EPA requirements also apply to woodstoves manufactured after 1988:
- Woodstoves must be installed or operated in a manner consistent with the instructions on the permanent label and in the owner's manual.
- Woodstoves that were originally equipped with a catalytic combustor cannot be operated if the catalytic element has been deactivated or removed.
- Woodstoves that have been physically altered to exceed the tolerance limits of its certificate of compliance cannot be operated.
Benefits of Certified Woodstoves
- Emit 50% to 60% less pollution.
- Use two-thirds less wood.
- Circulate heat more efficiently, so it stays in your home instead of going out the flue.
- Deposit less creosote buildup in chimneys, meaning less cleaning for you!
Tips for Buying a Woodstove
Size: First, select a stove best suited for the space-heating requirements of your home and Idaho's climate. Consider ceiling height, room size, and number of rooms to be heated. Next, consult a specialty retailer for experienced advice. It is better to buy a slightly smaller stove and burn it hotter than to install one that is too big and therefore requires you to choke the air supply to stay comfortable. (Choking the air supply emits more pollution.)
Label: If purchasing a used stove, buy one with an EPA certification label. All certified stoves must have approval labeling from EPA. Do not get confused—woodstoves often have several labels. A safety label lists requirements for safe clearances to walls, hearths, and chimneys and is often confused with certification. A safety label from a safety-listing agency is NOT the same as EPA certification. It is very important to understand the difference when selling or shopping for a woodstove.
- Permit: Call your local city or county building department to discuss installation and to obtain a permit.