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Policy

Updated: October 2020

States

State Policies on Wood and Pellet Stoves

In 2001, the Alliance for Green Heat did a report card on how well states were promoting cleaner wood heating and clean burn practices. See report here
A wide range of policies toward wood and pellet stoves has cropped up across the country. Some areas with widespread air inversions need to curb wood smoke, whereas other areas promote modern wood and pellet heating to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. This page lists the major types of restrictions on wood heating while we maintain another page that has the full list of incentives to purchase new stoves. Finally, we have a separate page that lists change-out programs for states and counties.

Except in Washington and Oregon, new and old wood and pellet stoves can be installed in all US states, though local cities and counties may have their own restrictions. A few states and hundreds of counties also require permits to install wood and/or pellet stoves.

This list of state policies does not attempt to cover every policy. Local burn bans, for example, are not covered here, although they are an important policy and regulatory tool when needed. County and other municipal policies are often difficult to find. If you know of policies that we've missed, please e-mail us at info@forgreenheat.org. If you live in a state with biomass-specific policies, tell us if you think the policy is effective or not.
Forbids Use of Uncertified Stoves: Forbidding the use of old, uncertified stoves is rare in the US and likely only used after years of offering funding to change out old stoves.
  1. Tacoma-Pierce County, Washington: As of October 2015, it is illegal to purchase or operate an uncertified wood stove in the Tacoma-Pierce County Smoke Reduction Zone.
  2. Marin County, California: Forbids use of non-certified appliances since July 2008 and forbids installation of non-certified stoves in new construction or remodels.
Forbids Sale and/or Installation of Uncertified Stoves: Two states, and a number of urban areas and counties do not allow old, uncertified stoves to be sold or installed off the second-hand market. Where change out programs occur, banning the future installation of old stoves is a key way to preserve air quality gains.
  1. Washington: Since 1992, has forbidden sale and installation of wood stoves or inserts that are not certified to the stricter Washington state emission standards.
  2. Oregon: Forbids sale and installation of wood stoves or inserts that are not certified. Oregon began certifying stoves in 1984 and the EPA in 1988.
  3. Denver-Metro area, Colorado: Prohibits sale and installation of new or used uncertified wood burning appliances
  4. Summit County, Colorado: Forbids the installation of a non-certified wood stove in a new home or as a replacement unit for an existing non-certified stove.
  5. San Joaquin Valley, California: Forbids sale and installation of non-certified stoves.
  6. Town of Mammoth Lakes, California: Uncertified stoves prohibited from being installed in the town. No more than one EPA-certified wood stove can be installed in new single-family detached dwellings.
Uncertified stoves must be removed upon sale of home
  1. Oregon: Uncertified stoves must be removed when a home is sold.
  2. Marin County, California: Non-certified stoves must be removed upon a home's remodel.
Forbids installation of wood-burning fireplaces
  1. Denver Metro area: The installation of fireplaces is not allowed unless they are equipped with an EPA Phase II wood or pellet burning insert, or electric or gas log.
  2. California Bay Area: Forbids installing fireplaces or stoves in new construction
  3. New York City bans the new construction of fireplaces.
Restricts installations of outdoor wood boilers (hydronic wood heaters)
Many states and counties restrict the installation of outdoor wood boilers by limiting the kinds that be installed, like New York, or limiting where they can be installed like in Vermont, where you have to have a 100 foot set-back from your property line, for example. The State of Wisconsin assembled a list of municipalities that restrict outdoor boilers that is nine pages long. Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Utah also have property line set-backs and most also have minimum stack height regulations.

Forbids sale of new, uncertified wood or pellet stoves
At the federal level, the EPA forbids the manufacturer, advertising and sale of residential wood heaters that do not pass emission regulations and become certified. Consumers rarely have to worry about this, as new uncertified stoves should not be on the market. One big exception is that some companies openly ignore EPA regulations and continue making and selling outdoor wood boilers for the residential market and the EPA has been ineffectual at enforcing its rules with these companies for many years.
 
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