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Resources and Tips for Homeowners

Last Updated: December 15th, 2016

1. How to choose which new stove to buy
2. Reducing costs of a new stove and installation
3. Finding rebates and incentives
4. Why change out an old stove?
5. How do I know if my stove needs changing out?
6. Dealing with your own or your neighbor's smoke
7. More resources

1. How to choose which new stove to buy?

Choosing a new wood or pellet stove can be very confusing. If you feel that there is lots of info on the internet, but little that is useful, you are not alone. There are very few credible, independent stove reviews.
We reviewed stove reviews here and recommend what we think are better ones.  Specialty hearth retailers are an excellent source of information, even though they tend to push the brands they carry and sometimes junior employees are not as informed as they should be on many topics.  There is also some information you may not learn from retailers.  For instance, if you are buying a pellet stove, extensive research on the internet can help find ones that are more reliable.  But also make sure to check the EPA list of certified stoves to see if the manufacturer provides consumers with a verified efficiency.  Most manufacturers do not provide third party verified efficiencies for most of their stoves and pellet stoves can range from 58% to 86% efficient.  This article reviews efficiencies and this one has an updated list of the efficiencies from the EPA.

For both wood and pellet stoves: For pellet stoves, keep these points in mind: For wood stoves, keep these points in mind: 2. Reducing costs of a new stove

To purchase and install a new stove, the total price tag is often in the $2,000 - $4,500 range. But there are ways to reduce that significantly. 
3. Finding rebates and incentives

You may live in an area that offers incentives for changing out an old stove for a new one and you can find a list of those areas here.  Two states offer ongoing change out programs: Idaho and New York.  More likely than not, your state or county does not offer an incentive to change out an old stove, but it may offer an incentive to buy a new one.

A map of states and regions with incentive programs (red circles) or change-out programs (yellow stars).
Incentives for 2016 change-out programs:

Fairbanks, AK; Phoenix, AZ; Alpine, CA; Bay Area, CA; El Dorado, CA; Marin, CA; Sonoma, CA; Placer, CA; Plumas, CA; Sacramento, CA; San Lorenzo, CA; San Joaquin, CA; San Luis Obispo, CA; South Coast, CA; Truckee, CA; Fort Collins, CO; Northern Colorado; Portneuf, ID; Idaho (statewide); Massachusetts (statewide); Butte-Silver Bow, MT; Western Nevada; New Hampshire & Maine; New York (statewide); Pendleton, OR; Washington, OR; Columbia Valley, WA; Kittitas, WA; Pierce, WA; Spokane, WA; Thurston, WA; Vancouver, WA.

Incentives without changing out an old stove:

* Pellet and/or wood stoves: Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Montana, New York, Oregon
* Wood or pellet boilers: Alabama, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont.

4. Why change out an old stove?

New stoves are simply safer, more efficient and cleaner – in short, good for you, your family and your neighbors.  Many of us like the smell of wood smoke.  But it's bad for you, and worse for children and the elderly. If you routinely smell smoke in your home, you are putting your family at risk.  Buying and installing a new stove doesn't have to be expensive.  You can find good, new stoves for under $1,000 and the federal government gives a $300 tax credit for almost all stoves, at least through Dec. 31 of 2016.  If you have an old woodstove, you can also consider changing it out for something cleaner and more efficient like a pellet or gas stove, or a high efficiency electric mini-split heat pump.  

5. How do I know if my stove needs changing out?

Check rear of stove for EPA certification
label and a safety listing, such as UL.
One of the most obvious signs of an old stove is that it does not have glass in the door to view the fire. Look at the back of the stove (if you can) and see if there is any EPA listing or UL safety listing.  If the back of the stove has no metal plates with such information, it should be replaced.  A third thing to check is whether you can find the owners manual in a drawer or online.  If you can't find an owners manual anywhere that provides the date, the stove is likely obsolete and it will be hard to show that the stove meets required clearances to a safety or insurance inspector.  Also, if you have an older stove and it regularly produces smoke, even when you are using dry wood, the stove should be replaced with something that will save you lots of money, and safeguard your and your family's health. Many older EPA stoves made before 1995 also need replacing.  People who change out old stoves almost always are amazed at how little wood and how much heat new ones produce and how much prettier the fire is.

6. Dealing with your own or your neighbor's smoke

If you live in a neighborhood or home effected by heavy wood smoke, there are a few things you can do about the pollution. If the smoke is coming from your own stove, then you or an expert, such as a CSIA certified chimney sweep, should identify the source of the problem and take steps to repair or replace your appliance if that is the cause. If the smoke is coming from a neighbor's stove or outdoor boiler, you will need to take different measures.  Start by talking to them, politely letting them know how it impacts you and ask them if they are willing to take steps to reduce it. An air (HEPA) filter may be one inexpensive way to reduce indoor pollution, as we discuss in this article. And, you may want to file a nuisance compliant with your local government about excessive wood smoke. Some air districts, particularly in the Northwest, regulate wood burning according to the opacity of the smoke, institute burn bans on days where air quality is at risk, and have trained officials that will write tickets to homeowners who emit too much smoke.

7. More resources

EPA Burnwise Health and Safety Awareness Kit
CSIA: What You Need to Know When Burning Wood
HBPA Wood Stove Changeout Website