Learn About Woodstoves

woodstove burns wood or wood-based products to heat a home, either as a primary or secondary heating source.

There are two major problems with older woodstoves:

  1. They emit large amounts of soot, or “particulate matter” (PM). Some of this soot remains in the home, but much is released into the surrounding community. When inhaled, particulate matter damages the heart and lungs, which can cause asthma, lung cancer, and heart attacks. A new stove can reduce the prevalence of these dangerous particles in your home and community by 70 percent to 95 percent.
  2. Old stoves tend to burn wood inefficiently. Therefore, the owner must burn about 33 percent more wood to produce the same amount of heat as a new, efficient stove of the same size. Customers who pay for wood can save an average of $4,000 to $6,000 in wood costs over the lifetime of the stove.

Stoves Type Information

Non-catalytic woodstoves

Non-catalytic woodstoves are the most common stove type on the market. A non-catalytic stove operates by preheating air as it enters the stove and injecting it into a highly-insulated combustion chamber, which creates lively flames. Non-catalytic stoves eligible to be installed under the Commonwealth Woodstove Change-Out Program emit up to 3.5 grams of particulate matter per hour.

  • Pros: Non-catalytic stoves tend to cost less than other types of stoves. They are easy to operate and produce beautiful flames.
  • Cons: These stoves tend to burn less efficiently than other stove types. They are less likely to include cutting-edge features such as thermostats, top loading doors or automatic fuel-feeding, though some do.

Catalytic woodstoves

Catalytic woodstoves differ from non-catalytic stoves in that they contain catalytic converters—similar to those found in cars—which lower the temperature needed to burn smoke created by the combustion process. This process results in higher efficiency, requires less wood, and emits fewer toxins into the atmosphere. Catalytic stoves eligible to be installed under the Commonwealth Woodstove Change-Out Program can emit up to 2.0 grams of particulate matter per hour. ​

  • Pros: Catalytic stoves can be more efficient than non-catalytic stoves, burn longer without requiring new fuel, and emit less particulate.
  • Cons: The catalyst must be preheated before the stove can operate independently. The catalyst also eventually degrades and must be replaced every two to six years, according to Burnwise.

Pellet stoves

Pellet stoves can be on average some of the cleanest stoves on the market. They do not burn wood logs, but instead run on compacted sawdust pellets. These pellets are automatically fed from a hopper to the flame. New pellet stoves are capable of releasing less than 2 grams of toxic particulate matter per hour.

  • Pros: Pellet stoves burn cleanly and efficiently. They require little physical adjustment, have automatic mechanisms to feed the fuel, and can have built-in adjustable thermostats. They can also incur lower installation costs than conventional wood stoves because pellet stoves often do not require an expensive flu or chimney.
  • Cons: Prices tend to be higher than for other stove types. Also, if the thermostat remains set at a certain point when the stove owner is not home, the stove will continue burning fuel to maintain the home’s temperature, which can be wasteful and expensive.

Fully Automotive Woodstoves

Fully Automotive Woodstoves are the newest, most innovative stove type to be recognized by our program. These stoves do not have manual adjustments for airflow, as that has been mechanized to allow for the cleanest burn. These stoves typically have sensors that enable temperature-control capabilities.

  • Pros: The low emission and high efficiency lab test ratings are more likely to be realized in households because user error is minimized. These take little effort and skill to use.
  • Cons: These are the most expensive stoves on market.

2016 Average Change-Out Costs Without Rebate

Stove Type

Stove Only

Total Project

Pellet Stove

$2,962

$4,090

Catalytic Stove

$2,848

$4,309

Non-Catalytic Stove (<3.0g/hr)

$1,923

$3,070

Non-Catalytic Stove (≥ 3.0 and ≤3.5g/hr)

$2,220

$3,533

 

Financing Options

Some Stove Professionals offer financing options for homeowners who prefer to pay for their new stove in monthly installments over time. A variety of options are available. Some companies offer low or 0% interest loans delivered through local banks or credit unions. Contact a local Stove Professional to find out what financing options they offer.

Best Practices for Wood Burning and Stove Maintenance

Upgrading to a new wood stove has potential health, efficiency and cost benefits that can easily be achieved by following these tips from EPA Burn Wise:

  • Read the owner’s manual to get the best maintenance information.
  • Use only seasoned firewood that has been split and then dried for at least six months, and never burn trash or treated wood.
  • Do not let a fire smolder, because that increases pollution with little additional heat.
  • Empty the ash build-up regularly.
  • Hire a Chimney Sweep Institute of America or National Fireplace Institute certified chimney sweep to inspect and clean your chimney every year.

Pellet stoves have their own upkeep needs:

  • Use only certified pellets to guarantee high quality, according to Alliance for Green Heat. Also, make sure there is less than one-half cup of dust at the bottom of every pellet bag. Less dust mean a better burn!
  • Read the owner’s manual thoroughly to learn how to properly clean all components, such as the flue vent, ash drawer, and fuel hopper.
  • Keep the soot and ash to a minimum by cleaning every week.
  • At the end of the season, remove unused pellets and hire a certified chimney sweep to inspect, clean and tune your stove and chimney. Inquire with your local hearth store or go online to find a professional certified by the National Fireplace Institute or the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

For more information, look at the EPA Burn Wise Wood Stove Upkeep Guide and MassCEC’s Pellet Stove Upkeep Guide. Also, visit the Department of Energy’s Energy Saver website.