Maryland has a grant program for wood and pellet stoves, similar to their solar PV grant program. It was begun in 2012 and gives out about 1,000 grants per year, of which about 800 are for pellet stoves and 200 for wood stoves. Initial data showed that the program was reaching less affluent homes, which is one purpose of the program.
This Q & A was written by the Alliance for Green Heat, an independent non-profit wood heat organization, to assist Marylanders seeking grants from the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA)'s Clean Burning Wood Stove Grant Program. However, the MEA is the final arbiter of any questions or issues, not us. The info here is meant to supplement and expand on info provided by the MEA. Refer to the MEA program website for eligibility guidance and assistance.
Q: How much is the grant for wood and pellet stoves?
A: Grants are $500 for wood stoves and $700 for pellet stoves if the stove has a listed efficiency rating on the EPA list of certified wood stoves. If the manufacturer does not provide a verified efficiency for their stove, the MEA grant is $250 for wood stoves and $350 for pellet stoves.
Q: Am I guaranteed a grant if I purchase a wood or pellet stove?
A: If you follow the directions and meet the requirements, you will get the grant. Initially the program had limited funds but now Maryland has indefinitely extended the program and grants are provided just like the residential solar and geothermal grants.
Q: Why do pellet stoves receive a larger rebate than wood stoves?
A: Pellet stoves tend to cost more than wood stoves, although they are usually less expensive to install. Since they are the cleaner option, many programs around the country try to steer more people to pellet stoves with a larger rebate.
Q. Why do stoves with a verified efficiency receive a larger rebate?
Efficiency numbers, just like miles per gallon in a car, allows consumers to make more informed decisions. Especially with pellet stoves, it also determines the operating cost. Some pellet stoves are as low as 50% efficient, while other are over 80%. For consumers who want to save money on heating bills, the difference between 50 and 80% efficiency is significant.
Q. If my primary heat already comes from wood or pellets, am I eligible?
A. We understand from the MEA that if your primary heat is biomass, you are eligible to get the rebate for a wood or pellet stoves if 1. you are replacing an old, uncertified wood stove (made pre 1990) and 2. your back up or secondary heat is oil, propane or electricity.
Q: What stoves are eligible for the grant?
A: Only EPA certified wood and pellet stoves that emit less than 3 grams an hour of particulate emissions and pellet stoves that emit less than 2 grams an hour are eligible.
Q: Why are wood stoves limited to 3 grams and pellet stoves 2 grams?
A: The program seeks to incentivize only the cleanest stoves. This provision was included in the bill introduced in the Maryland legislature in 2011 by Delegate Heather Mizeur and had the support of almost all stakeholders. The EPA certifies wood stoves that emit up to 4.5 grams of particulate emissions an hour, but up to 50% of stoves now emit less than 3 grams of particulate matter.
Q: Are there wood stoves on the market that emit less than 3 grams an hour but are not on the EPA list?
A: There can be a lag time between when the EPA certifies a stove and when it appears on their list, but there is a 99% chance that any EPA certified wood stove you find on the market will be on the EPA list.
Q: Do the cleaner wood stoves that emit no more than 3 grams an hour (2 for pellet stoves) cost more than stoves that have higher particulate emissions?
A: Not necessarily. The cost of stoves that emit no more than 3 grams an hour ranges from the high end ones that cost more than $3,000 to the value stoves that cost less than $1,500. The majority of pellet stoves emit no more than 2 grams and many cost less than stoves over 2 grams.
Q: How come stoves have efficiency listings on their websites but not on the EPA list of certified stoves?
A: Unfortunately, the efficiency listings used by most stove manufacturers on their websites and brochures are exaggerated. Do not rely on them if you are trying to calculate savings or identify a higher efficiency stoves. Many manufacturers have not submitted their efficiency numbers simply because they are not required to and do not see enough reason to do so. It may be because their efficiencies are not that good. Efficiency numbers can only be measured and provided via approved third party test labs and sometimes, manufacturers have not yet had the lab calculate their efficiencies from the data they collected during the certification testing.
Q: Why is the program limited to houses that heat with electric, oil and propane heating systems?
A: This requirement has two distinct rationales. First, the program seeks to help families who heat with the most expensive and the most carbon intensive heating fuels. Second, these homes tend to be in rural areas where the particulate emissions from wood stoves are not as much of a concern. Even the cleanest wood stoves can be polluting if they are loaded with wet wood and not given enough air.
Q: Do I have to purchase my stove from a Maryland store?
A: No, it can be purchased from any specialty hearth store, big box hardware or online. But it must be installed in a Maryland residence; it cannot be installed out of state.
Q. Are corn or multifuel stoves that can use both pellets and corn eligible?
A. Yes, as long as they are certified by the EPA.
Q. Can you recommend an installer?
A. No, we do not recommend any particular installer, but encourage you to hire a qualified one who is certified by NFI or CSIA (see below more on that). However, we do provide lists of DC/Maryland chimney sweeps and installers, and firewood dealers, who get high ratings by Consumer Checkbook, a reputable consumer watchdog group.
Q: Can I install the stove myself and still receive the grant?
The MEA encourages, but does not require, professional installation if your installation has been inspected by a county inspector or insurance adjustor. Installations must show proof of a passed final inspection if a permit is required by their county. If your county does not require a permit or inspection, it is advisable that you get an inspection from an insurance adjustor. Whether your stove was professionally installed, permitted and/or inspected, it is always advisable to contact your insurance company to let them know you have installed a wood or pellet stove. Click here for more info.
Q: How do I find an NFI certified technician and why is it better than a regular contractor?
A: National Fireplace Institute (NFI) certified installers specialize in wood and pellet stove installation and have passed the certification exam. Most contractors do not have experience installing stoves and may not have ever installed one before. An NFI certified technician will be familiar with all the issues that may come up and how to solve them and is your best assurance that the installation will meet the manufacturers specifications and local code requirements. You can find an NFI technician here.
Q: If I can't find a NFI certified technician in my area, how can I select a contractor?
A: The next best thing to NFI certification is certification by the Chimney Sweep Institute of America. They also have expertise in wood and pellet stoves and particularly in chimneys.
Q: Can I purchase the stove in Maryland but install it in a neighboring state and still get the rebate or install it in my vacation home?
A: No. The technology must be installed in a primary Maryland residence.
Q: Why am I asked to write the BTUs per hour of my stove in the System Information section on page 2? Where do I find this information?
A: The application asks that you put down the BTUs per hour so MEA can better estimate the amount of renewable energy being produced, and whether the stove is likely being purchased as a whole house heater. BTUs can be found on the EPA list for wood stoves. BTU output provided on the manufacturers website or literature is likely to be highly exaggerated. For more info.