Garfield County exchanges old inefficient woodstoves with new high efficiency stoves

December 9, 2011

Changing out one old wood stove with a newer, cleaner wood burning stove reduces emissions by an average of 70 percent. That is equivalent to removing seven old diesel buses off the road.

That is just one of the reasons that Garfield County Public Health is piloting a woodstove exchange program for Garfield County residents. Public Health is exchanging old inefficient woodstoves and replacing them with new EPA certified efficient stoves, at no cost, to qualified participants. Public Health has already begun to swap out several stoves in Garfield County, but they are looking for more participants.

“The process was wonderful,” said Eugene Diaz of Silt. Eugene and his wife Eva have lived in their Silt home for 61 years. We already had a woodstove from years ago, but they came in and put in the new one according to code. They waived all the permit and inspection fees and we made out like a couple of bandits! The installation didn’t take more than an hour.”

The health department received funds to run the woodstove exchange program through Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment settlement and enforcement actions. The funding comes from fines received from violations of environmental laws and regulations. “There are a number of woodstove exchange programs running throughout the United States,” said Reaser. “We know that wood smoke contains a number of pollutants that can be harmful to health. The smoke from stoves and fireplaces pollute the air, contributing to smog, and related health problems.” Wood smoke is a mixture of gases and fine particles. The particles can aggravate existing diseases, such as coronary artery disease, heart failure, asthma or chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The gases contain harmful pollutants such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, benzene, and dioxin. EPA studies show that an estimated 70 percent of smoke from chimneys can actually re-enter the home and other neighborhood dwellings. New stoves are more air tight than older models helping to keep inside air cleaner. They also burn an estimated 1/3 less wood than older stoves and produce less buildup reducing the risk of house fires.

“I’ve noticed that the new stove burns less wood. I’ve noticed how fast it heats up the place, very quickly,” says Diaz. “Eva likes it because I don’t have to go up on the roof to clean it as much because there isn’t as much creosote in the chimney.”

The Public Health Department has funding to exchange 35 stoves. Participants must meet income guidelines, live in Garfield County, and be the home owner. The program replaces older, non-certified solid wood burning stoves or fireplaces with new approved devices.

December 9, Updated May, 2012

Pilot woodstove exchange program helps homeowners reduce air pollution

Residents of Garfield County kept warm and breathed easier over the winter months thanks in part to the efforts of a state environmental protection (SEP) pilot woodstove exchange program. Thirty county homeowners swapped their clunker woodstoves, heating stoves, or fireplaces for newer, EPA certified, low emission replacements. fireplace inserts, pellet stoves, or a natural gas space heating stoves. SEP funds were used to pay for the entire purchases and installations of the woodstoves, fireplace inserts, pellet stoves, or natural gas space heating stoves or fireplace inserts for low-income residents (including some elderly and disabled residents).

This project also successfully tested the validity and feasibility for implementing a potentially larger project/program in the future. In addition, successful applicants were also eligible to receive full benefits (at no cost) through the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments (NWCCOG) Weatherization Assistance Program.

This pilot woodstove exchange program successfully helped to start reducing fine particle pollution and promote energy efficiency, in Garfield County, by assisting 30 homeowners with funds to remove outdated, high emitting woodstoves and fireplaces. The SEP funds were used to pay the for the entire purchase and installation of a modern EPA certified low emission woodstove, fireplace insert, pellet stove, or a natural gas space heating stove or fireplace insert for low income residents (including some elderly and disabled residents). This project also successfully tested the validity and feasibility for implementing a potentially larger project/program in the future. In addition, successful applicants were also eligible to receive full benefits (at no cost) through the NWCCOG Weatherization Assistance Program.

The total cost of the project was $120,857; $95,320 was allocated for the purchases, $1788 for advertising and community outreach, and $23,749 was dedicated to the administration of the project. This project did not benefit from any matching funds, but local cities and towns within Garfield County did provide in-kind assistance by waiving permitting and inspection fees.

According to Paul Reaser, senior environmental health specialist with Garfield Public Health, “Community support and publicity was very positive for the entire duration of this project.”

Environmental and public health benefits include reduction of PM10 and PM2.5 during the winter months when air quality concerns are at their greatest in Garfield County. Certified wood stoves emit from 70 to 90% less particulate emissions than uncertified wood stoves or fireplaces, and natural gas or propane heaters or fireplace inserts release up to 98% less particulate than wood heating.

The EPA’s Wood Stove and Fireplace Emission Calculator was used to calculate the air quality benefits of the County’s pilot woodstove exchange project. Based on the following assumptions, the following are estimates of the total emissions avoided as a result of the project:

Cords of Wood Burned per woodstove = 3

Wood density to convert cords to tons (tons oven dried wood/cord) = 1.03

Number of conventional stoves changed out = 30

Woodstove % efficiency for conventional woodstove = 54

Woodstove % efficiency for certified woodstove = 80

Fraction assumed changed out to new, certified woodstove, remainder to non-wood burning heaters = 0.8

Emission Avoided (tons) Pollutant Total Emissions Avoided
CO 8.02
Methane 2.26
VOC 2.08
PM2.5-PRI 1.12
PM10-PRI 1.12
NOX 0.08
Benzene 0.0761
Formaldehyde 0.0431
16-PAH 0.0222
Acetaldehyde 0.0152
1,3-butadiene 0.0140
SO2 0.01
Naphthalene 0.0048
Acrolein 0.0036
7-PAH 0.0014
Dioxin Toxic Equivalent Quantity (TEQ) 0.000000000193
total HAPS = 0.180