RDN launches woodstove exchange

Regional District of Nanaimo and area municipalities team up to reduce pollution

Chris Midgley (left) and Jennifer Frumento of the RDN’s sustainability and energy programs warm up with some clean heat from a high efficiency wood burning stove.              Brenda Gough Photo

Chris Midgley (left) and Jennifer Frumento of the RDN’s sustainability and energy programs warm up with some clean heat from a high efficiency wood burning stove. Brenda Gough Photo

Burning wood to heat your home can often be a dirty business, but a new program by the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN), in partnership with the municipalities of Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Nanaimo and Lantzville will provide incentive for people who continue to use wood-burning fireplaces and wood stoves to heat their homes to replace their existing wood burning appliance with something more efficient and non-polluting.

A region-wide Woodstove Exchange and Outreach Program with funding from the province for rebates and support from the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange has been launched for 2012.  It will see regional partners offer a $250 rebate to replace an existing wood burning appliance with a new high-efficiency wood stove, insert, pellet stove or gas stove/fireplace purchased after Jan. 16, 2012 while incentives last.


“This program supports several objectives of the RDN board’s commitment to sustainability, including the protection of local air quality and supporting energy efficiency and emission reduction measures,” said RDN Chair Joe Stanhope. “By encouraging the exchange of older wood stoves for higher efficiency Environmental Protection Agency-certified heating appliances, our members are working together to ensure that residents can continue to meet their home heating needs while reducing impacts on local air quality.”

With oil prices rising, and consumers moving to a wood stove in every house next to the two cars in the garage, concerns about personal heat source choices are heating up.

Why worry about such a natural source of energy? The reason: fine particulate matter. Wood smoke contains tiny particles called particulate matter (PM). Particulate matter that is 2.5 microns or less in diameter, called PM2.5, is small enough to be breathed into the deepest parts of the lungs. Fine particulate pollution is important for health because when PM2.5 is drawn deep into the human lung, it is known to contribute to respiratory and cardiovascular problems in both healthy people and at-risk groups including children and elderly persons.

It is associated with a variety of health problems, from a runny nose and coughing, to bronchitis, asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, heart disease and even premature death.

Burning wood for nine hours in a conventional fireplace pollutes as much (mostly particulate matter) as driving an average car for over 20,000 kilometres.

Fireplaces and wood stoves can emit substantial quantities of pollutants to outdoor and indoor air. When compared to conventional fireplaces and wood stoves, advanced-combustion wood-burning appliances emit less pollution.

Chris Midgley, Manager of Energy and Sustainability at the RDN said there are 97 rebates available in the 2012 wood stove exchange program and homeowners should also look into incentives being offered by retailers.  Upgrading to a new high efficiency wood stove doesn’t totally solve the wood smoke problem. Stoves must also be properly operated to take advantage of the stove’s pollution control equipment.

RDN Sustainability Co-ordinator Jennifer Frumento  said there are other things homeowners can do to reduce air pollution and she said she will be posting burn it smart tips on the RDN’s Facebook and Twitter page every week.

By following these guidelines you will improve the stove’s performance and reduce pollutants:

– Weatherize your home.

– Size your stove properly.

– Burn seasoned wood.

– Burn small, hot fires.

– Install a stove pipe thermometer.

– Remove excess ashes.

– Clean the stove pipe and chimney.

– Never burn pressure treated wood, creosote treated timbers, plastic or garbage in your wood stove or outdoors.

For more information, call 250-390-6510 or 250-954-3798. Information is also available on the RDN website at www.rdn.bc.ca/cms.asp?wpID=2435, the RDN Facebook page and Twitter feed.