B.C. Residents Breathe Easier with Greener Heating Options

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February 2, 2022

B.C. communities continue to benefit from a provincial program that provides incentives to people replacing wood stoves with cleaner heating options.

Through the 2021-22 Wood Stove Exchange Program, 21 communities are receiving funding or have sufficient funding from previous years to continue offering rebates to their residents.

“This program provides important information to the public on the need to reduce harmful emissions from burning wood,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “With increased rebates this year, our government is making sure people can affordably make the switch to update and heat their homes, improving air quality in their communities and creating a lower-carbon future for B.C.”

Burning wood creates significant air pollution by increasing fine particulate matter in the air, which can cause health problems. The exchange program reduces local air pollution by helping people transition to cleaner sources of heat.

In 2021, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy completed a third-party evaluation of the program. Several recommendations from the report are being implemented for the 2021-22 application period, including increasing incentives, updating the rebate structure to target communities where fine particulate matter exceeds national air-quality standards, and increasing First Nations participation. These changes will help maximize emission reductions and improve affordability. 

Eligible British Columbians in communities that have exceeded national air-quality standards can apply to exchange a wood stove for:

  • a Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified wood stove: $300
  • a qualifying natural gas, propane or pellet stove: $750
  • a heat pump: $1,000

Eligible British Columbians in other communities can apply to exchange an old wood stove for:

  • a CSA or EPA certified wood stove: $300
  • a qualifying natural gas, propane or pellet stove: $500
  • a heat pump: $750

Considering B.C.’s climate commitments and new policies outlined in the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030, 2022 will be the final year that propane and natural gas stoves will be eligible for rebates from the Wood Stove Exchange Program. Although these appliances reduce particulate matter pollution relative to wood stoves, they burn fossil fuels and therefore produce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.

Consistent with the CleanBC Roadmap, the program will continue to support electric heat pumps, high-efficiency gas heat pumps and hybrid-electric heat pump gas systems, as well as emissions-certified wood and pellet stoves.

Since 2008, the Wood Stove Exchange Program has provided more than $3.8 million to replace more than 10,000 stoves with cleaner heating options. This year’s fund will distribute $319,800 through the British Columbia Lung Foundation, which also educates the public about clean burning practices and alternatives to wood stoves. Since 2019, most replacements funded by the program have been non-wood-burning heating options.

“This program continues to help remove particulates from the air, while raising awareness about the dangers of burning wood,” said Christopher Lam, president and CEO, BC Lung Foundation. “People throughout our province should understand that wood smoke causes significant harm.”

Thirteen communities are receiving funding, including two new communities and 11 that have successfully re-applied. In addition to those recipients, eight regions have funds remaining from the past year and will continue to distribute rebates to residents. In total, a projected 649 wood stoves will be replaced in 2021-22.

Quick Facts:

  • In British Columbia, all new wood stoves and inserts sold must meet CSA or EPA emission standards.
  • People using wood stoves should use dry, well-seasoned wood cut into pieces 10 to 15 centimetres (four to six inches) in diameter. Burning green or wet wood produces significantly more smoke.
  • Firewood should be seasoned for at least six months. Burning seasoned wood saves money by reducing wood consumption by 25%.
  • By burning smaller, hotter fires to ensure complete combustion of the wood, very little smoke should be visible coming from the chimney, with no smell of smoke indoors.
  • Wood-burning appliances should be inspected and cleaned at least once a year by a certified technician.

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