Editorial: Improving wood stoves, air quality
Efficiency and environmental impact are two measures of any kind of appliance.
And while we can think that appliances aren’t made as well as they used to be, the truth is that there have been advances in technology that have produced all types that are better for the environment.
This includes wood stoves.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing an update of its standards for the next generation of wood stoves and heaters. With a goal of cleaner air, which will have an impact on improving public health, the EPA is eyeing a benchmark for the next generation of wood stoves that would make them an estimated 80 percent cleaner than those manufactured today.
“When these standards are fully implemented, EPA estimates that for every dollar spent to comply with these standards, the American public will see between $118 and $267 in health benefits,” said a release from the agency.
“Consumers will also see a monetary benefit from efficiency improvements in the new wood stoves, which use less wood to heat homes. The total health and economic benefits of the proposed standards are estimated to be at $1.8 to $2.4 billion annually.”
But in getting to cleaner air, the EPA is also trying to balance its goals with an understanding of the economic implications to the American consumer. Those with stoves and hydronic heaters in their homes now or stoves and heaters being sold in stores currently would not be affected.
With these upcoming changes in mind, it is time for the state to consider reinstituting the Commonwealth Woodstove Change-Out Pilot Program. Last year, Massachusetts unveiled this program at the every end of December 2012 as a way to get citizens to replace their older wood, wood pellet or coal burning stoves with newer, more efficient models. In just 12 days it used up the $100,000 set aside for the program. And then a second round, with close to $1 million available, used up its money in nine days.
While for the most part the EPA has been relying on a voluntary swap out, perhaps there are ways to find some financial help that will serve as a true incentive for residents to upgrade their woodburning devices.
That, we hope is one of the messages given to the EPA at its Feb. 26 public hearing in Boston on the proposed regulations.