More than 1,400 and counting! That’s the number of old, inefficient, polluting wood stoves that Okanagan residents have exchanged over the past decade thanks to the ‘Great Okanagan Wood Stove Change Out Program’. Since 2001 over 500 Central Okanagan homeowners have updated to cleaner burning, energy efficient appliances and saved money through the program.
Now through April 30th the Regional Air Quality program gives consumers a $250 rebate (funding is limited) when they purchase a new EPA/CSA emission-approved wood, gas, pellet or electric appliance and replace their old smoke-belching wood stove.
Participating manufacturers, distributors and retailers also offer a minimum rebate of $150 off the suggested retail price of new EPA/CSA approved replacement appliances. Consumers receive the rebate when they surrender their old wood burning appliance for recycling. Participating retailers will take care of recycling your old stove and complete all the necessary paperwork for the rebates.
It’s estimated over 20,000 valley homes are still equipped with inefficient conventional wood stoves or masonry fireplaces. And chances are, if they’re being used, they’re pumping out pollutants that reduce our air quality.
Regional Air Quality Program Coordinator Kate Bergen says, “There’s no disputing that wood stove smoke contributes to poor air quality throughout the Central Okanagan. By replacing old wood burning fireplaces and stoves with newer technology certified appliances homeowners will burn a third less wood and reduce smoke by up to 90 per cent. And that will help us all breathe a little easier!”
Bergen adds, “To learn more about proper wood heating practices, we have a quick, interesting and informative video you can watch on our websites. It tells you how to burn smart and get the most out of every cord of wood. You’ll find the link at regionaldistrict.com/airquality.”
Participating retailers in the Wood Stove Change Out program include Okanagan Fireplace Den, Okanagan Home Centre, Ok Builders Supplies, The Fireplace Place, Ace Fireplace Showroom, Barbeque and Fireplace Centre and Okanagan Rock World.
For those who do burn wood, the Regional District offers these tips to minimize pollution:
-Firewood should be seasoned by splitting and stacking it at least eight months before it is burned. Your woodpile should be covered in a way that keeps rain and snow off but allows air to circulate through it. Dry seasoned wood burns best!
-Burn only clean, dry wood in your wood stove. Never burn green, wet, painted or treated wood including plywood, pressboard, railway ties or utility poles. Never burn household garbage in your wood stove or fireplace!
-Burn only small bright fires. Start the fire using small pieces of wood kindling, and keep the fire moderately hot, adding larger pieces of split wood as required.
-Watch for signs of incomplete burning such as visible smoke coming from your chimney or long, lazy flames in the firebox. When you see these signs, more air is needed to improve your fire.
-Don’t burn on fair or poor air quality days.
-Buy the right stoves for your needs. The most common mistake is choosing a stove too large for the area to be heated.
-Don’t burn in moderate temperatures. Save your wood for cold days.
-Don’t damper down your fire, as this will produce a smoky, oxygen-starved fire.
-Check your chimney frequently for creosote buildup: a common cause of house fires.