BC’s wood stove exchange program provides rebates for the removal of highly polluting, uncertified wood stoves.
In a positive step, higher rebates are now available to people who choose to replace their old stoves with far cleaner gas heating or ductless heat pumps.
However, much of the funding from this exchange program still provides incentives for replacing older wood stoves with newer, certified models.
These newer models:
- still pollute far more than other source of heat, producing significant amounts of harmful second hand smoke, for both the homeowner and their neighbours.
- rely on the homeowners expertise and willingness to operate it as efficiently as possible and burn only legal materials; and
- would fail to meet any vehicle emission standards even when operated appropriately. For hours on end, they emit more fine particulate pollution than many idling pick-up trucks.
Additionally, the new appliance is likely to remain in use for a number of decades, exposing neighbours to more particulate pollution and other toxins than any other form of heat.
Poor return on investment
The rebates for new wood stoves are funded with taxpayer dollars. While switching to gas or a heat pump ensures a dramatic decrease in pollution from a home, switching from an old to a new wood stove is no guarantee of a significant reduction in pollution.
In fact, an evaluation of six years of the wood stove exchange program found “there has not yet been a clear reduction in fine particulate matter pollution coming from residential wood stoves.”
And this is after $2.2 million and over 6,000 stove exchanges (mostly for other wood stoves).
So why do we continue to pay people to put new wood stoves in their homes?
Investment in ongoing education required for new stoves
And, although newer regulations require lower emissions for new stoves, different studies have shown that real world operation of a wood stove far exceeds factory tested levels.
Even an article from the wood stove industry highlights that the results of laboratory testing in the factories have little connection to actual use in the home.
As a result, the wood stove exchange program must also invest further taxpayer dollars into operator education on how and what to burn. No such ongoing investment in education is required when a homeowner switches to gas or a heat pump.
The best way to guarantee a home will not have a wood smoke problem is to change it to a cleaner source of heat.
Taxpayer funding should not support the installation of stoves that will produce significant, harmful pollution for decades to come.
Read our longer analysis
Breathe Clean Air Comox Valley has prepared a 4-page document outlining our concerns with rebates being provided for new wood stoves. (Click image to open PDF).