Frequently Asked Questions about Renewable Heat New York

Will new funding be added to the Renewable Heat New York program?

No, additional funding will not be added to Renewable Heat New York. Although incentives are no longer available through the Renewable Heat NY program, there are other funding opportunities to help customers afford high-efficiency, low-emissions wood heating systems:

  • Income-Eligible Incentives: NYSERDA will include pellet stoves in the EmPower and Assisted Home Performance programs in early 2022 and incentives and GJGNY loans for pellet stoves will become available at that time. Please sign up Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. for current program notices and to learn more as information becomes available.

If you are a contractor and would like to participate in these programs, please contact Brendon Fox.

  • Federal Tax Credit: Customers can check their eligibility for a federal investment tax credit which applies to the installed cost of home heating and hot water systems that use wood pellets, cordwood, and woodchips at efficiencies greater than 75 percent. The tax credit is 26 percent for systems purchased in 2021 and phases down to 22 percent in 2022 and 2023. 

What was the purpose of Renewable Heat New York?
Renewable Heat NY was New York’s long-term commitment to help the high-efficiency, low-emission biomass heating industry reach scale. It was designed to encourage quicker development of the industry, raise consumer awareness, support the development of New York-based advanced technology heating products, and develop local sustainable heating markets that use biomass as fuel. Renewable Heat NY also aimed to reduce wood smoke, fine particles and carbon monoxide emissions.

What percentages of New Yorkers use wood as their primary home heating source?
Overall, outside of New York City, only 3% of homes heat primarily with wood. However, in some counties, as many as 12% of homes heat with wood, according to the American Community Survey.**

NOTE: **These figures may underestimate wood heating, as the survey does not include counties with populations of less than 65,000 and may not fully capture supplemental heating with wood (for example a home may have a whole house oil-boiler but the residents produce most of their heat with a wood stove).

What is biomass?
Biomass is any plant-derived organic matter available on a renewable basis. While it includes many different types of plant-derived organic matter, Renewable Heat NY focused on the use of wood pellets and cordwood because these sources are currently able to be most efficiently burned with reduced emissions.

What is the difference between a wood boiler, a wood stove and a wood pellet stove?
These are different technologies. Advanced technology cordwood boilers and high-efficiency, low-emissions pellet boilers were supported under Renewable Heat NY, as were pellet stoves.

A wood boiler, or hydronic heater, has a firebox surrounded by a water jacket. Wood is burned inside the firebox and heats the water, which is then circulated by pipes to the heat distribution system (radiators) of the home. All of the boiler technologies that qualified for the Renewable Heat NY program were advanced, high-efficiency and low-emissions designs.

A wood stove is not a hydronic device but instead is installed as a room heater. Fire wood (also known as cordwood) is burned inside a combustion chamber, and heat is radiated off of the appliance into the room.

A pellet stove is similar to a wood stove but it burns wood pellets rather than fire wood, and heat is radiated off of the appliance. Because pellets are much smaller than fire wood, once a room is warm, a thermostat can tell the system to stop feeding pellets into the stove. In this way the heat can be better regulated and less fuel is consumed than with other wood-fired heating systems.

Why are pellets better than wood chips?
Wood pellets are a more uniform fuel with a low moisture content (just 5-7%) and less ash because the bark has been removed. The more uniform fuel allows for better combustion, higher efficiency and much lower emissions. While commercial wood chip heating systems are available, the wood chips contain approximately 40% moisture and are more difficult to combust than a wood pellet.

How do modern stoves and pellet stoves compare to older models? Are they more energy efficient and better for the environment?
Energy efficiency values are available for new wood stoves but efficiency is not measured. Instead stoves are assigned an estimated efficiency, typically 63 to 72 percent, while pellet stoves are estimated to be 78% efficient. Wood stoves manufactured prior to 1990 burn fuel less efficiently and have higher emissions. In addition, there currently is no ENERGY STAR rating system for biomass combustion appliances, which makes it challenging for consumers shopping for wood or pellet stoves to know how energy efficient they are. Step 2 of EPA’s New Source Performance Standard (NSPS) became effective on May 15, 2020.

Are there any manufacturers of high-efficiency wood boiler and wood stove technologies in New York State?
Yes. Some high-efficiency products are being manufactured and some are still in the pilot stage.

What should I do if my equipment does not seem to be operating correctly?
Refer to the operating manual that came with your equipment to see if you can find your answer there. If not, you should contact the installer or the manufacturer.

Does the DEC regulate emissions of indoor and outdoor wood boilers, and wood stoves?
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has adopted a regulation (Part 247) to establish emission limits for particulate matter and operational requirements primarily for new outdoor wood boilers (OWBs) installed on or after April 15, 2011. This includes new cordwood-fired OWBs and pellet-fired OWBs.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also regulates indoor wood stoves. Indoor wood boilers are not regulated by DEC or the EPA. The EPA developed a New Source Performance Standard to establish new emission limits for wood stoves and pellet stoves, and to set emission limits for outdoor wood boilers and indoor wood boilers, as well as other types of wood-fired appliances.

What types of training are available for Renewable Heat NY?

See the Renewable Heat NY web page for training information.