Updated: March 2017

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Unregulated and Exempt Wood Stoves

Unregulated wood stoves are the most common type of stove found in America today, with an estimated 6 7 million still in use, compared to about 4 5 million certified stoves. Any wood stove made before 1988 is uncertified and unregulated and is likely to be far more polluting and less efficient than the EPA certified stoves made since then. However, about 40,000 thousands of new, unregulated wood stoves were still being sold every year in the US as of 2015 because of a loophole in EPA regulations that allowed cheap, efficient and usually very polluting stoves to stay on the market.

A nice looking Stove Unregulated by the EPA
Some of these unregulated stoves may look deceptively like more efficient stove designs.
Some companies engaged in misleading advertising to promote sales of their uncertified stoves. For example, Vogelzang advertisements said "Meets EPA Requirements", implying that the stoves are approved by the EPA, when in fact they were avoiding EPA requirements. The Alliance for Green Heat exposed that advertising tactic and continues to put pressure on stove companies that mislead consumers.

As of Jan. 1, 2016, all wood stoves sold in the US must be certified by the EPA. Today, the only stoves that are exempt from EPA regulation are masonry stoves and cook stoves, both of which have an extremely small market share in the United States.


Rumsford 1000 fireplace insert
The advanced Rumford 1,000 fireplace emits
only 3.94 grams per hour with the door closed.

Fireplaces are generally the least efficient wood burning technology of all, and typically provide between 0 10% efficiency.  Luckily, most fireplaces are used only occasionally, not as a source of home heating.

New fireplace technology has been recently developed to help make fireplaces a more clean wood-burning option. Renaissance Fireplaces received a EPA Clean Air Excellence award for their Rumford 1,000 model.

Fireplaces are not regulated by the EPA, but the EPA has worked with industry to develop a set of voluntary standards for fireplaces. The site includes a list of qualifying fireplaces as well as program partners. Washington is the only state to require that fireplaces meet certain emission standards.

Cook stoves

an example of a cookstove that would likely be exempt for
EPA emission standards. Almost all cookstoves on the market
in the US are now manufactured in Europe.
Cook stoves are also exempt from EPA regulations in the United States. For a stove to claim this exempt status it has to have an oven and certain other characteristics.

For more information about cookstoves, this site is one of the best.

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