Updated: April 2015

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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 3 – 4 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 are still being sold every year in the US because of a loophole in EPA regulations allows cheap, efficient and usually very polluting stoves to stay on the market. Older and newer uncertified stoves usually do not have glass in the door.

A nice looking Stove Unregulated by the EPA
Some of these unregulated stoves may look deceptively like more efficient stove designs.
A nice looking Stove Unregulated by the EPA
Other unregulated stoves have designs more obvious in their lack of efficiency and emission technology.
This loophole is being closed and these uncertified stoves cannot be shipped for sale in the US after May 15, 2015 and cannot be sold after Dec. 31, 2015. The EPA allowed these stoves to escape regulation because they are purposefully built in such a way as to not meet the agency's criteria for a wood heater. Numerous jurisdictions do not allow their installation including Washington, Oregon and most of California. Most of the populated areas of Colorado and Utah do not allow them either.

While some of these stoves are used infrequently in remote hunting cabins, work sheds and garages, many are installed in neighborhoods in small towns or suburban areas where they emit much more smoke pollution than what should be allowed in a dense residential area. Companies such as Vogelzang have engaged in misleading advertising by saying the stove "Meets EPA Requirements", implying that the stoves are approved by the EPA. Our goal is for companies that sell EPA exempt stoves to agree on better language to use in their advertisements, so consumers can more easily understand the difference between EPA exempt and EPA certified stoves.


Rumsford 1000 fireplace insertThe 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 also developed a set of voluntary standards for fireplaces, available here. The site includes a list of qualifying fireplaces as well as program partners. Washington State fireplace emission standards only allow the installation of certain fireplaces that have been tested to significantly reduce smoke.

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