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Woodstoves

We spend, on average, roughly 90% of our time indoors, where concentrations of pollutants can be up to five times higher than they are outdoors. For those of us burning wood indoors, this can be particularly concerning, but the good news is that by using a wood stove rather than an open fireplace, you’re already breathing in far fewer pollutants, and many of the steps you take to keep your stove eco-friendly will also help minimize the level of pollutants in your home. That said, it’s important to be aware of the effects of wood smoke and what you can do to improve your indoor air quality when you use a wood stove.

The Effects Of Burning Wood In The Home

When we breathe in wood smoke, we inhale pollutants and small particles, which can cause irritation to the lungs and eyes, and exacerbate breathing difficulties like bronchitis and asthma. Heavy exposure in the long term can lead to heart difficulties and reduced lung function, particularly in infants and older adults. 

There are a few steps you can take to reduce the amount of toxins you breathe in from wood smoke. Improving filtration and ventilation is key, as this exchanges stale air for fresh air. Air conditioning systems filter indoor air to remove airborne particles, and some also act as air purifiers - make sure you understand the parts and functions of your unit, and install air purifiers if yours doesn’t have one. Clean HEPA filters regularly, and monitor the air quality with an indoor air monitor, which will alert you if there’s a reduction of the quality of the air in your home.  

Keep Your Wood Stove Clean And Well-Maintained

Ensure that your wood stove is certified by the EPA - modern stoves are cleaner and more efficient, and this certification is required, but if you’re using a very old stove, it may be time to upgrade. Modern stoves burn less wood than older stoves, and reduce the amount of wood smoke emitted.

Ensure that any air leaks are sealed and insulated, and have your stove serviced regularly. The chimney, too, should be swept once a year to clear out creosote and pollutants. As well as keeping your air quality at its best, this will ensure the safety of your stove.

Using Your Stove For Optimum Air Quality

To keep pollutants to a minimum, burn only dry, natural wood. Damp wood doesn’t burn as easily, and will produce much more smoke, as well as generating less heat. Stack split wood off the ground for six months to a year to season it, keeping it covered with plenty of room for air flow. Cracking at the ends of the logs will show you when the wood is dry. Dry wood should also make a hollow sound when two logs are knocked against each other. You can use a moisture meter to check that the wood is dry enough - moisture content should have dropped to 15-20% before burning. 

When you’re building your fire, stack larger logs at the bottom, followed by smaller logs topped with sticks or wood chips. When you’re lighting the stove, light the top of the pile. Keep the fire hot, as this produces a cleaner fire with little visible smoke. 

Because a wood stove keeps the fire contained, it causes far less problems for indoor air quality than an open fireplace. However, in order to keep the air quality of your home as clean as possible, it’s important to keep your stove well maintained and pay attention to the moisture content of the wood you’re burning. Doing this will also reduce the stove’s environmental impact, and keep it burning at its most efficient level.

Biomass Stove Tax Credit Extended to December 31, 2020

Tax credits are powerful incentives for potentially hesitant consumers to invest in new biomass-fueled freestanding stoves and energy conservation technology. For nearly a decade,

HPBA has worked in Washington, D.C. to maintain a tax credit for purchasers of new biomass stoves so that communities and individuals can reap the financial and environmental benefits that newer, more efficient technology provides. 

UPDATE: In late December 2019, the biomass stove tax credit was extended for qualifying purchases made before December 31, 2020. Remind consumers that they are able to claim the credit on their 2018 and 2019 returns if they made a qualifying purchase in those tax years. 

HPBA continues to fight for another extension of this important incentive for consumers to invest in cleaner, more efficient technology. 

Industry Specific FAQs

When does this tax credit go into effect and how long will it last?

This tax credit is valid only for the purchase and installation of a qualifying biomass stove made before December 31, 2020. Consumers would claim the tax credit in the year in which it was purchased.

What is the Biomass Stove Tax Credit? What products qualify?

This federal tax credit is an opportunity for the hearth industry to promote energy-conscious purchases to consumers that improve the energy efficiency of their home. It is a $300 dollar-for-dollar, non-refundable, tax credit for purchasing a qualifying biomass-burning stove before December 31, 2020. Biomass simply means the stove uses wood or pellet fuel.

Any biomass appliance that meets or exceeds an energy efficiency rating of 75 percent qualifies for this credit. This credit applies to qualifying stoves that heat the air or water. However, visit your local specialty retailer who can explain which products qualify for the tax credit. Manufacturers must provide documentation proving in some way that the appliance qualifies for the credit.

What Does the IRS Say? 

Energy-efficient building property (covered by this credit includes) a stove that uses the burning of biomass fuel to heat your home or heat water for your home that has a thermal efficiency rating of at least 75%. 

What must a manufacturer's certification statement contain?

A manufacturer's certification statement must contain the following information: 

  • The name and address of the manufacturer.
  • Identification of the class of qualified energy property (Biomass-Burning Stove) in which the property is included.
  • The make, model number and any other appropriate identifiers of the stove.
  • A statement that the product is an eligible qualified energy property.
  • A manufacturer's certification statement must contain a declaration, signed by a person currently authorized to bind the manufacturer in these matters, in the following form: "Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined this certification statement, and to the best of my knowledge and belief, the facts are true, correct, and complete."

If a customer claimed this tax credit in past years, may they claim it again this year?

Yes, but only if they haven't reached the credit claim cap of $500. That said, if consumers are in your store looking to update their appliance, there may be stove accessories that you could recommend to enhance their experience (even if they aren't eligible for the tax credit).

What Does the IRS Say?

If the total of any non-business energy property credits you have taken in the previous years (after 2015) is more than $500, you generally cannot take the credit. 

Why was 75 percent efficiency selected?

The 75 percent efficiency number was originally designated by the U.S. Congress in 2008 as part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act and was used again for this tax credit.

Does the stove need to be manufactured in the U.S. to qualify for the credit?

No, there is no "Buy America" component to this tax credit.

What should a retailer advise the customer retain for tax purposes?

Retailers and consumers must keep exact records of any sale or purchase. Retailers should provide a consumer with the manufacturer's certification statement for the specific product model purchased. A consumer may rely on a manufacturer's certification statement that their products are qualified energy property. A taxpayer is not required to attach the certification statement to the return on which the credit is claimed. A consumer claiming a credit for the qualified non-business energy property should retain the certification statement as part of the taxpayer's records.

Manufacturers should make this certification document available to consumers on their website, in the product packaging, or in some other easily accessible manner.

What Does the IRS Say?

For purposes of taking the credit, you can rely on a manufacturer’s certification in writing that a product is qualified residential energy property. Do not attach the certification to your return. Keep it for your records.

With 8.8 million households in the United States using wood stoves as a secondary source for heating, regular maintenance and cleaning of the appliance is a necessity for many people nationwide. However, many wood stove owners may not be familiar with the importance of cleaning their stoves, how to do it, or when to let a professional step in. Whether you’ve just installed a wood stove in preparation for winter or you’ve had one for some time, here are some of the basics about care and cleaning that you should know.

The importance of proper care

While cleaning your wood stove might sound redundant (until it becomes noticeable), it’s an important part of owning a wood stove that should never be overlooked. This is because an unclean stove — including both the chimney and flue — can not only prevent it from working properly, but can easily become a fire hazard due to the build-up of creosote, which also makes it a health hazard as well. With that said, the cleaning and proper care of your wood stove are necessary for proper efficiency and safety, as regular maintenance can help keep your stove in an ideal condition that doesn't harm anyone's health.

Cleaning your stove 

While how often your wood stove gets cleaned depends upon how often it’s used, it should still be done at least once a year. When it does need to be cleaned, always begin with the stove completely cold in order to avoid burning yourself. Then, you can scoop out the ashes with an ash shovel and wire brush and put them in a metal bucket. Next, scour the buildup and rust off with a wire brush. The exterior of the stove can easily be cleaned with a vinegar solution and rag. As for the glass, a cold piece of charcoal can easily rub away any soot, and after you wipe it with a paper towel, you’ll find that it’s clean. However, when it comes to cleaning more complicated aspects of your stove — like the chimney and flue — calling a professional can be a good idea.

When to call a professional

Calling a professional to clean your stove is never a bad idea, especially if you don’t feel comfortable with cleaning the stove yourself or don’t have the proper equipment to do so safely. Professionals can ensure that your stove is properly and safely cleaned, inspected, and safe for use. Many may use high tech equipment as well, which can be expensive to buy and hard to obtain for personal use. Thus, calling a professional can prove to be a quality and convenient service for wood stove owners, in addition to bringing peace of mind and reducing stress surrounding the issue.

While it’s definitely possible to clean your wood stove yourself, it’s necessary to be informed of the several safety precautions to take when doing so. For example, when disposing of the ashes, it’s necessary to do so properly by keeping them in a metal bucket for 24 hours (in case they contain any live coals). It’s also very important to take care when cleaning the chimney in order to prevent falling off the roof. Due to the extent of safety precautions needed, utilizing a professional is always a great idea. 

Cleaning your wood stove and keeping up with its maintenance is an absolute necessity in order to keep it working properly and safely. While many may call a professional to do so, others may choose to take care of it themselves. No matter the situation, it’s important to be aware of the safety precautions involved.

Winter is just around the corner, which means that an increasing number of Americans will start their preparations for the colder weather.  While many households make use of electric or gas heating sources, as many as 4.8 million homes use a wood stove, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. Despite rendering exceptional heat and being very economical, many homeowners wonder whether wood stoves affect indoor air quality. Although excess smoke can pose a problem, there are a number of ways to ensure that your wood stove is as safe and eco-friendly as possible in its maintenance and usage.  

Use dry wood

Dry wood not only creates substantially hotter fires but less smoke as well. Where possible, collect your wood, chop it, and leave it to air dry for at least a year before using it. This will not only result in a reduction in indoor air pollution but also save you money as no heat will be wasted on evaporation. You can make your fires even more eco-friendly by collecting branches and trees that have already fallen or using wood that would otherwise have been destined for the landfill. You can even try and source offcuts from your local joiner or sawmill but take care to not use anything that has been painted or treated in any way.

Allow enough air to circulate

If you want the air inside your home to be as clean as possible you need to ensure that there is adequate ventilation. Apart from making use of a sound chimney system, you also need to make sure that there is no furniture blocking the vents. You should also consider opening a window or two a bit in order to have fresh air enter the home while letting any excess smoke and gas emissions escape. Take care not to open your windows too much, however, as you don’t want all the lovely heat your stove is generating, to escape.  

Give your stove and chimney some TLC

One of the simplest ways to make your wood stove more environmentally-friendly is to keep both the stove and your chimney well-maintained.  Remove creosote build-up from your stove on a regular basis with a special detergent and limit future build-up by only making fires with seasoned, dry wood. Your chimney is a very important component of your wood stove.  Apart from posing a fire risk, a chimney that is filled with soot and creosote can also leave the house filled with an unpleasant smoke. In order for a chimney to remain clean, it has to be thoroughly inspected and swept at least two times a year.

A wood stove can be a great addition to any home, especially during the colder months. As long as you take the necessary steps to combat any indoor air pollution as much as possible, you will be able to enjoy the wonderful heat omitted by your stove without suffering from any adverse effects. 

Seniors over the age of 65 are three times more likely to be injured or lose their life in a home fire than younger people. Home fires are more likely to occur during the winter, when various heating methods are being used. Wood stoves create a pleasant atmosphere, heat the home well, and are commonly seen in senior’s homes, but they can present risks. If you have family, such as elderly parents, who are vulnerable and use a wood stove, there are some precautions you can take to help keep them safe and give yourself some peace of mind.

Regular maintenance and cleaning

Regularly maintaining and cleaning wood stoves can help to keep older relatives safe. Ideally, this should be done by a professional who can also inspect the flue for any problems, and make sure that everything is working as it should. Creosote can build up in the wood stove and chimney, and will need cleaning thoroughly. This should be done at the end of each winter, or whenever your loved ones are done using their wood stove for the year, and at least once during the winter while it’s being regularly used. You may need to arrange regular maintenance for seniors in case they forget or are unaware that it needs doing. 

Prioritize safety

Safety should always come before anything else when warming the home. In some circumstances, the risks that a wood stove presents outweigh the benefits, and opting for alternative heating solutions can be a better option. For example, a senior with dementia may leave their wood stove unattended or play with it out of confusion, or they may have a physical illness, like arthritis, that makes it difficult for them to manage a wood stove. If they live with someone else who can take responsibility for the wood stove then it’s not as big of a problem, but for seniors living at home alone it’s important for their loved ones to assess the risks and how safely their wood stove can be used. Assistive technology can give you peace of mind if your loved one lives alone, as they can call for help easily if something goes wrong while they're using the stove.

Precautions family can take to protect seniors

There are plenty of things loved ones can do to reduce the risk of a fire or injuries from a wood stove. Placing it on a fire-resistant base will reduce the chance of hardwood or carpeted floors becoming hot and catching fire. Ensuring any wood used for burning is dry and well-seasoned, which usually takes about two years, helps to minimize the amount of creosote and tar that builds up in the wood stove and chimney, as well as reducing the amount of smoke produced. Logs should be kept away from the wood stove, as stacking them next to it can increase the chance of a fire. Seniors may benefit from having a fireguard in place to reduce the risk of them falling into the fire or the temptation to go near it. This can be particularly helpful if someone else in the home is responsible for the wood stove and there’s no need for seniors to touch it at all.

Seniors can safely use and enjoy their wood stove to warm their homes, but loved ones can take some precautions and follow basic safety tips to reduce any risks and give themselves peace of mind throughout the winter.

More than 12 million households are currently reliant on wood-burning stoves for heat generation according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. While the majority of the stoves are located in the living rooms of American homes, it is not uncommon to find a wood stove right in the heart of the home: the kitchen. Although wood stoves are very versatile and can easily be placed here, there are a few considerations, such as the following, that you need to keep in mind before choosing the right unit for your home.

Placement of your stove is very important

Many modern-day kitchens boast extractor fans that aim to remove unpleasant odors from the kitchen. These fans create negative pressure which is not suitable for wood burning stoves which rely on positive chimney pressure to eradicate combusted gases from the room. When placing your stove, make sure it is not too close to your extraction fan as you don’t want the smoke to be circulated back into the kitchen. This can easily be avoided by either installing an air vent in the room or investing in a stove that receives air externally.

Safety first

While a wood stove can be installed virtually anywhere in the kitchen, it is important to avoid placing it too close to other appliances as it can cause them to overheat. Don’t keep any combustible materials near the stove either as there is always a slight possibility of embers falling out. For added safety, have a smoke detector installed in your kitchen to alert you of any looming dangers that require your attention.

A wood stove can boost the visual appeal of your kitchen

Modern-day wood burning stoves are available in a host of sizes, designs, and finishes that will complement any kitchen beautifully.  Whether you have a country-style kitchen with a lot of wood finishes or one that is ultra-modern, you are bound to find a wood stove that fits the room perfectly.  While an older, classical stove will enhance the ambiance of your somewhat-whimsical kitchen nicely, a sleek design will look striking in a more contemporary setup. You don’t have to try to match the exact color and style of your existing cooking and cleaning appliances including your dishwasher, oven, and fridge, but you can opt for a wood stove that will not only look good but suit your needs in terms of practicality as well.

Yes, you can cook on your wood stove

Depending on the type of wood burning stove you invest in, you might find yourself able to cook on it. Even if you do have a kitchen filled with state-of-the-art appliances you might find it intriguing to cook on your wood stove, just like our great-grandparents did many years ago.  A lot of people enjoy the flavor of wood-cooked food as it has a distinct, natural taste to it. Not only does the stove top enable you to cook and warm a large variety of dishes but it will also make it possible to prepare food during power outages if you don’t have a gas cooker.

A wood-burning stove can be a welcome addition to any kitchen. Not only will it heat up your entire home but it will also make for a beautiful focal point that enhances the appearance of the most frequented room in the house tremendously.

Cassandra Pearson

One recent study found that fall is America’s favorite season (among 29% of respondents). Additionally, Christmas is consistently named as the nation’s favorite holiday, with Thanksgiving close by in almost every poll. It’s no surprise, then, that fall and winter are often associated with cozy memories, warmth, quality time with family, and times of joy. If you are planning a seasonal getaway to your cabin this fall or winter, you may already be dreaming about making memories like the ones listed above.

An excellent way to prepare for your cozy getaway is to enhance the rooms in your cabin. If you are looking for ways to create a warm and welcoming feel to your space, explore these top design strategies.

Find the right fireplace for your space

Optimizing your cabin space for a cozy getaway starts with choosing the right fireplace. Fireplaces are not only a design element that enhances overall ambiance, but they also provide a practical way to heat a room. Rather than picking a fireplace that appeals to you online, it’s essential to ensure that your chosen fireplace fits the size of your space, the colors in your cabin, and that it meets your needs. Start by measuring the desired area you’d like the fireplace to cover, and contact a professional for recommendations. Next, choose a fireplace that works well with your future or existing decor (depending on your plans for the space). Finally, decide whether you are looking for a gas fireplace or a wood burning option. Carefully assessing each of these elements will ensure that you get the coziest feel from your new fireplace.

Add “warm” decor elements

Your cabin decor is another crucial component of how “warm” each room feels. When painting and adding decorative elements, choose colors that reflect natural elements from the season of your choice. A color palette that includes brown, red, and dark orange shades is an excellent way to capture the feel of falling leaves, pumpkins, and maple syrup. For a warm winter feel, dark green, brown, and red make the perfect starting color palette. To add physical warmth, make blankets, pillows, and throws part of your decor.

Create a DIY beverage station

Whether your getaway is planned for fall or winter, a DIY beverage station is a fun way to add even more coziness to the experience. Your guests can enjoy a delicious, warm cup of cider or hot cocoa at their convenience on chilly days. In addition to the actual beverage being served, provide enhancements such as caramel, marshmallows, whipped cream, and sprinkles.

If you’re ready for your coziest-ever cabin getaway this fall or winter, following the above tips is a great way to get started. Make memories that will last a lifetime for both you and those who will be traveling with you!

Cassandra Pearson

Old and traditional wood-burning appliances are amongst the leading indoor pollutants that can cause asthma attacks, cancers, or other respiratory diseases. However, new alternatives have been developed to make wood burning appliances more eco-friendly. Through those efforts, multiple alternatives have been created to allow homeowners to take control of their indoor air quality.

Efficient Alternatives  

Stoves, heaters, dryers, and fireplaces all play a significant role in the air quality in your home. Old wood burning appliances are inefficient and burn off carbon monoxide. But current models have been able to significantly reduce emissions while doing an even better job at warming you and your home. Older wood burning appliances can produce up to 30 grams of smoke per hour, with the EPA’s performance standard being 4.5 grams per hour. Electric appliances also offer eco-friendly benefits with traditional satisfaction. These appliances are easily installed and do not need a gas or vent line to work, while gel and biofuel stoves add another environmentally conscious option that also provide eco-benefits. From current efficient wood burning models to electric and biofuels, there are several alternatives to tackle your indoor air pollution.

Keep It Simple, Use Water

The presence of water can have a significant impact on the quality of air in your home. While humidity might not be the first guess for cutting into the presence of indoor pollutants, it might be the smartest. It is common for indoor air pollutants to hold a slight electric charge. A water source in the home such as a pond or fountain can trap these allergens and improve the air quality. These water sources can also humidify the room and change the air. Humidity levels play a large part in the air quality in your home with the ideal level staying around 45 percent. If this level rises above 60 percent, it can run the risk of forming mold or mildew in your home causing major health problems. If these levels dip under 30 percent, anything from skin irritation to a respiratory infection is possible. Simply taking care of your indoor humidity levels can go a long way.

Take Matters Into Your Own Hands

Maintaining a high standard indoor air quality is important to the health of any homeowner. With efficient wood burning appliances, you can enjoy their traditional benefits while working to reduce the pollutants in your home. Electric, gel, and biofuel appliances provide alternatives with the same comfort of traditional models. By enjoying these appliances responsibly as well as maintaining an acceptable humidity level, your indoor air quality will improve drastically.

Cassandra Pearson

Laura Streitman says deciding to install three wood-burning fireplace inserts in her Butler County home was not a tough decision.

“It was the cost,” she says about heating the all-electric home. “The first bill we got, I think, was about $650.”

Thinking about a pellet stove this winter? You may want to consider it, they burn cleanly, produce tons of heat and do not require much maintenance. Most people that already own a pellet stove say they love it.

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