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Choosing the Right Fireplace

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June 2012- EPA announces a revision to the Fireplace Partnership Program to include fireplace retrofit devices. Learn more.

There are two major types of wood-burning fireplaces, traditional masonry fireplaces that are typically built of brick or stone and are constructed on site by a mason; and "low mass" fireplaces that are engineered and pre-fabricated in a manufacturing facility prior to installation. Low mass fireplaces are widely used in new home construction in the United States and provide a lower-cost option for homeowners. Most fireplaces, whether masonry or low mass, are not used as a primary source of heat; their function is primarily for ambiance and secondary heating. In fact, most traditional open fireplaces lose over 90 percent of the heat of the fire out the chimney along with much of the heated air in the room. Fireplaces should not be confused with fireplace inserts which are basically wood stoves that have been converted to fit in existing fireplace openings.

Phase 2 White Tag

When buying a fireplace, look for the white tag. The Phase 2 white tag is for qualified models that are about 70 percent cleaner than unqualified models.

thumbnail image of a hang tag

Full Size Version (PDF)
(1pg, 209k, About PDF)

EPA includes fireplace retrofit devices as part of the Fireplace Partnership Program. Fireplace retrofits are installed into an existing wood-burning fireplace. The existing fireplace can either be factory built or masonry construction. The primary purpose of the retrofit is to reduce wood smoke pollution from existing fireplaces. If installed properly, fireplace retrofit devices can reduce pollution by approximately 70%. These devices burn cleaner than traditional fireplaces, but emit more pollution than a certified wood stove.

Look for the Tag

EPA has initiated a voluntary program for manufacturers of wood-burning fireplaces and fireplace devices to encourage the manufacture and sale of cleaner units. EPA does not promote the sale of wood-burning fireplaces over other devices; however EPA does encourage those who buy a fireplace to buy the cleanest model.

New, EPA qualified units often carry a hang tag on the front of the fireplace or retrofit to demonstrate that these models have met EPA qualifications to be considered cleaner burning. A permanent EPA qualifying label may be viewed prior to installation of the unit. .

The Phase 2 hang tag indicates fireplaces are approximately 70% cleaner than older fireplace models. For fireplace retrofit devices, the hang tag indicates the unit can reduce pollution by approximately 70% if properly installed.

List of Cleaner Burning Fireplaces and Retrofit Devices*

EPA maintains a list of fireplaces and retrofit devices that qualify under the voluntary program. To view this list see the List of Cleaner Fireplaces & Retrofit Devices*

* The wood-burning appliances that are "qualified" under the EPA's Voluntary Fireplace Programs are not "certified" per EPA's Wood Heater New Source Performance Standard. Contact your state or local air quality agency for clarification on the type of wood-burning appliances, if any, that may legally be installed in your area.

 

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