Starting Thursday residents of Cheshire County can turn in old, inefficient woodstoves for a voucher towards a new cleaner-burning stove.
The vouchers are worth $1,000 towards an EPA certified woodstove, $1,500 towards a pellet or gas stove, or $4,000 towards a new outdoor wood boiler. In all $425,000 worth of vouchers will be given out.
Woodstoves built before 1988 are a lot less efficient and put out a lot more pollution than modern stoves, and since they are essentially big chunks of iron they last a long time.
“We New Englanders are really hearty in that we like to hang on to things in case we need them and so there are lots of stove out there that are forty years or older,” says Michelle Edwards with the American Lung Association, which is administering the program.
Because of its topography the Keene area has particularly bad air quality, especially on cold, windless winter days.
The program is funded by a wood-burning power plant in Bridgewater. New Hampshire has fairly stringent pollution restrictions for biomass plants that want to qualify as renewable energy producers, but the state’s renewable energy mandates has flexibility built in so that power plants can implement programs that reduce emissions from other sources in order to qualify for subsidies.
Ed Miller, Senior Vice President with the ALA calls the program a win-win. “The power company gets what they need. The people in Cheshire county they get cleaner air, whether they benefit from the actual changeout or not. Then the new stove-owners they get a more efficient stove, they get a stove that is improving not just outdoor air, but is significantly improving the indoor air quality in their homes,” he explains.
This is the second woodstove change out program in less than a decade that has targeted the area. In 2009, the DES estimated that there were 2,200 woodstoves in Keene, and implemented a smaller program that changed out around 100 stoves.
Cheshire County residents interested in participating can visit the program's website, or call 1-800-548-8252