The traditional wood-burning stove has its place in public consciousness as a symbol of rustic ambiance. Today, it actually can be an efficient and eco-friendly method of heating your home. By purchasing an EPA-certified stove, you can heat your home cheaply and “greenly”. However, the type and quality of your fuel must be given some forethought for your stove to function at its best.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has information at epa.gov/woodstoves for people interested in purchasing wood or pellet stoves. Today, there are a growing number of EPA-certified stoves that reduce emissions, as all woodstoves sold new in the United States must meet EPA certification. Public concerns about the pollution produced from wood burning stove have largely been met with the new, efficient stoves that emit much less smoke than previous models. These EPA-certified stoves also direct heat better, improve air quality and are designed to make chimney fires a thing of the past.
There are two main types of wood burning stove available today: catalytic and non-catalytic. Catalytic stoves have a catalytic converter (like a car's) that burns and eliminates Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and hazardous smoke particles. These stoves give off long-lasting, even heat. However the catalyst, a honeycomb of coated ceramic, requires regular cleaning and replacement. Non-catalytic stoves use insulation, a large baffle and small holes that introduce pre-heated air above the fuel to create an environment that encourages the complete combustion of all material. While the heat is not as long-lasting or as even as with catalytic stoves, these stoves are popular for their beautiful flames.
EPA-certified stoves don't just save the environment; they save the homeowner money. It's estimated that new wood stoves are about one-third more efficient than older stoves. This higher efficiency is ironically a by-product of the tighter controls on emissions, but at the same time, it means that in two seasons of wood burning, the higher cost of the EPA stove will have paid for itself. Also, when fires burn more efficiently, you can be assured that you're getting the full worth of the fuel you've bought or cut.
In order to make sure that your emissions are as low as possible and that your wood will burn efficiently, it is advisable for you to buy and stack wood a year in advance. Otherwise, buy pre-seasoned wood for a cheaper and more environmentally friendly wood burning experience. Wet or green wood won't burn as well, may produce unpleasant smoke and can contribute to indoor air pollution.
A wood stove that burns efficiently is a joy to have in the home, for its economical heat production, low emissions and contribution to a pleasant atmosphere. New EPA-certified stoves are the best choice for wood burning today. Consider buying a new EPA stove if you wish to replace an old one or install a new one in your home.
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