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New Hampshire and EPA Launch Campaigns to Replace Old Non-EPA Certified Wood Stoves and to “Burn Wise”

Release Date: 10/22/2009
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1027

(Boston, Mass. - Oct. 22, 2009) – Today EPA joined the City of Keene and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NH DES) in announcing the start of a three-month wood-stove changeout campaign in Keene, NH. This campaign offers financial incentives to homeowners in the Keene area to replace or “changeout” old non-EPA certified wood stoves with much cleaner, certified wood stoves or pellet stoves, or with vented gas-heating appliances. Funds for the Keene campaign - about $100,000 - are from a regional environmental settlement with American Electric Power. The goal is to replace 100 woodstoves with certified models.

While wood-stove changeout campaigns have become popular in recent years in the western US, they have only begun to catch on in the northeast. The goal of a changeout campaign is similar to the “cash-for-clunkers” program for cars: get old, dirty wood stoves out of circulation in favor of cleaner, more efficient ones.

The kick-off event was held today in Keene, and included remarks from the State’s Environmental Commissioner, Tom Burack, and EPA’s acting Regional Administrator, Ira Leighton. Cleaner-burning wood and pellet stoves will be displayed throughout the day.

At the same event, EPA launched its national “Burn Wise” campaign to get out the message that burning cleaner can save money for homeowners and improve air quality for everyone. The campaign emphasizes that it pays to burn the right wood, the right way, in the right wood-burning appliance. Burning unseasoned wood, which can contain 50 percent moisture, will not burn as efficiently or cleanly. It is important to burn only dry, seasoned wood regardless of what type of wood burning appliance being used.

“Here in New England, we encourage families and businesses that use wood as their winter heating fuel source to consider replacing their old stoves with a cleaner burning pellet stove and an EPA-certified wood stove. These stoves use less fuel for the same amount of heat, thereby saving you money, and they help protect air quality in your community” said Ira Leighton, acting regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.

EPA views voluntary programs, such as Keene’s wood-stove replacement program, as an effective means to reduce wood-smoke emissions. Smoke from these older stoves is responsible for much of the air pollution that is commonly trapped during winter air inversions in valleys in New England and elsewhere. Over the last several years, EPA estimates that more than 13,000 old wood stoves and fireplaces have been changed out in over 40 communities. The result is about 250 tons of fine-particle emissions reduced each year, with a savings of about $100 million per year in health costs.

“This is a great opportunity for homeowners and residents of Keene,” noted Commissioner Tom Burack of DES. “This effort will help stimulate the local economy, and it complements our Department’s work on climate change by increasing energy efficiency, reducing fuel usage, and improving overall air quality.”

Thousands of families in New England, especially in rural areas, use wood as fuel to heat their homes and other buildings. Further, concern about the cost of other energy sources is prompting more people to turn to wood burning. For people who use or are planning to use wood, purchasing a new EPA-certified wood stove can be a good economic and environment choice.

“Keene is a beautiful community,” noted Mayor Pregent in his welcoming remarks. “However, because of our geography, when wood smoke becomes trapped in the Keene valley during certain winter weather conditions, poor air quality can result. The woodstove changeout program will enable many of our residents to replace their old, inefficient wood stoves with new, cleaner burning devices.”

While older uncertified stoves and fireplaces emit 15 to 30 grams of smoke per hour, new EPA-certified stoves emit only 2 to 7 grams of smoke per hour, and are 50 percent more energy efficient. EPA-certified stoves also use about 30 percent less wood than older stoves, and are safer because they produce little or no creosote that can build up and cause chimney fires

Exposure to fine particle pollution, also called PM2.5, is linked to a number of serious health problems, including decreased lung function, aggravated asthma, irregular heartbeat, nonfatal heart attacks and premature death in people with heart and lung disease. Children, people with heart or lung disease, and older adults are the most susceptible to the effects of particle pollution.

More information:

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Residential wood combustion in New England (epa.gov/ne/communities/woodcombustion.html)
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Cleaner Burning Wood Stoves and Fireplaces (epa.gov/woodstoves)
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Burn Wise campaign (http://www.epa.gov/burnwise/#)

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