Some say a wood stove heats the house faster if you always leave the stove’s front door open (with a fire screen to catch sparks). Some say the stove door must be closed after the chimney reaches operating temperature (about 250 degrees) for the stove to circulate air inside the firebox and burn efficiently. Some say just close the door after you got it started, and MYOB. What’s the deal?
—Francis, in Shasta, California
Forget the open-door policy, says John Ackerly of the Alliance for Green Heat, which does just what its name indicates by promoting efficient, safe, lower-polluting heating with wood.
But first, a more urgent question: Out of an estimated 12 million wood stoves in the United States, 9 million are antiquated, and belch out more 3 times more dangerous soot particles than new, EPA-approved stoves while wasting vast quantities of wood because they are so woefully inefficient. So while we environmentalists rightfully harp about corporate emissions, we need to take a look at what’s blasting out of our own personal smokestacks. If you have an old stove, or one that is not EPA-certified, I urge you to click on the EPA's Burn Wise site right now to find out more and to take action. You may be eligible for a maximum total federal tax credit of up to $500 on new energy-saving devices, including $300 for EPA-certified wood or pellet stoves. Depending on where you live, you may also be eligible for a rebate.