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US Census

A key function provided by the US Government is to track the number of wood stoves being used in America. This is done in different ways by multiple agencies, the most prominent of which is the US Census. But the Energy Information Agency (EIA) also does its own data collection, producing equally valuable information that focuses more on the amount of energy produced. Finally, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) collects data.

The Alliance for Green Heat has taken the lead in recent years to analyze Census and EIA data, and the EIA has recently redoubled its efforts to better track and calculate wood heating the way it tracks other residential heating fuels and equipment.

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Overview

According to the latest figures from the American Community Survey (2016), around 2.2 million (about 2%) U.S. homes heat primarily with wood and pellets. The 2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey by the EIA estimates that an additional 9.3 million (about 8%) U.S. households used wood as a secondary heat source. California, New York, and Pennsylvania are the top three states for residential wood heat (in terms of number of households). However, Vermont, Maine, and Montana are home to the greatest percentage of households heating with wood at 16%, 10%, and 8% of all homes respectively.

Background

Since the U.S. Census Bureau started tracking primary heating fuel data in 1950, wood heating has had wide swings. Starting at 10% of the population in 1950, wood dropped to 1.3% of the population in 1970, an all-time low. By 1990, wood had climbed back to 3.9%, only to drop back to 1.6% in 2000. The use of wood then increased 34% between 2000 and 2010, making it the fastest growing heating fuel in the United States. In recent years, however, wood heat has begun to decline, falling 10% between 2011 and 2016. These trends could indicate that wood use is starting to level off at around 2% of US homes.

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