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These are the new fine dust rules for wood-burning stoves

A woman puts a log in a stove
A woman puts a log in a stoveimago images / photothek

Rain, mud and damp cold: when autumn comes and it gets uncomfortable outside, many homeowners seek refuge in front of the fireplace. Some people would do well to savor this little luxury again now. Because at the turn of the year there is a shift in the shaft for many stoves. All ovens installed between 1985 and 1994 then have to be retrofitted with fine dust filters, replaced or taken out of service.

The reason for the sweep is the Federal Immission Control Ordinance, which will prescribe stricter fine dust regulations for stoves from next year. They are real fine dust extractors – especially older models that are not yet equipped with modern filters. According to the Federal Environment Agency, in 2015, with a total of 21,000 tonnes, most of the fine dusts from combustion processes came from wood-burning systems, including chimneys. Particulate matter is not only bad for the environment, but also for health: If it gets into the lungs, it can cause bronchitis and asthma attacks, among other things. Particulate matter is also suspected of causing cancer.

In order to be able to spend cozy evenings in front of the fireplace in the future, owners of old stoves must be active. If it is unclear what year a stove comes from, a look at the type plate often helps. Alternatively, a chimney sweep can determine the age based on measurement data. The emission values ​​and the year of construction of various ovens can also be found out with the help of online databases from various consumer centers or from providers such as the Industrial Association for House, Heating and Kitchen Technology (HKI).

Is a new stove worth it?

If the year of construction and emission levels remain in the dark or if the fireplace is actually too old, fireplace owners must shut down or replace their stove. “When buying a new one, you should pay attention to good energy efficiency”, advises Ute Rigbers, energy expert at the energy consultancy for the consumer center in Bremen. Economical wood-burning stoves achieve energy efficiency class A +. The most efficient pellet stoves even achieve A ++. In order to save even more fine dust, fireplace owners should ensure that they only use dry, well-seasoned and untreated firewood and a suitable lighter.

Not all old stoves need to stay cold from next year. Retrofitted particle filters also help against excessive fine dust emissions. Because the requirements for fireplaces are likely to become stricter rather than relaxed in the coming years, consumers should however check whether a new purchase is not worthwhile. After all, particle filters are not available for free: According to the Baden-Württemberg Sanitary, Heating, Air Conditioning Association, their purchase and installation cost up to 1500 euros.

If not only the fine dust, but also the carbon monoxide value is too high, no filter will help. Homeowners can then not avoid taking their stove out of operation or replacing it with a newer model. What is annoying for the individual is of benefit to the general public: According to the industrial association HKI, the fine dust emissions of domestic fireplaces have already fallen by around a third since the obligation to retrofit and replace them began in 2010. The next deadline for wood-burning stoves is in 2024. Until then, models from 1995 to 2010 must be upgraded or replaced if they do not comply with the regulations.

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