Everyone wins when communities recycle and replace old wood stoves

Ecology’s Wood Smoke Reduction Grant Program helps people find and afford cleaner, greener options for home heating

Wood stoves, fireplaces, and other residential wood burning devices put out hundreds of times more fine particle air pollution than other sources of heat, such as natural gas or electricity. The resulting smoke can lead to asthma, lung disease, heart disease, stroke, and premature death.

People may be surprised to learn that in Washington, wood burning is the second largest contributor to fine particle pollution (PM2.5), right after the air pollution caused by wildfires.

Since 1988, standards for wood stoves have become more protective. Today, all new wood stoves must be certified, meaning they must meet the most protective emission performance standards that apply under state and federal law. As of 2020, federal standards have become more protective than state standards. However, existing devices don’t have to meet the new standard, and some wood stoves have a long lifespan.  

Old, uncertified wood stove

An old uncertified wood stove

That’s where the Wood Smoke Reduction Grant Program comes in. Every biennium, the Washington State Legislature appropriates $3-4 million to this Ecology grant program, which then disseminates the funds to regional clean air agencies and Ecology regional offices to support programs that reduce smoke from wood stoves. The programs must prioritize communities at risk of violating national air quality standards.

Since the Wood Smoke Reduction Grant Program began about 17 years ago, it has been helping reduce fine particle pollution throughout Washington — replacing more than 7,000 wood stoves, and recycling a little more than 3,600 devices.


Communities respond to incentives 

In addition to funding educational programs about how to burn efficiently, the grants help fund two main types of programs that provide monetary incentives to recycle or replace old, uncertified wood-burning home heating devices. Some clean air agencies offer both types of programs. 

  • Recycle Events – Smaller regions, such as Benton County Clean Air Agency and Ecology’s Eastern Region Office (ERO) have set up wood stove “turn-in events” or recycling events on specific days, when residents can bring in qualifying wood stoves and receive a check. These events help remove old, uncertified wood stoves from circulation. For example, ERO will be offering $400 for old wood stoves on Sunday, April 28, 2024, at Stevens County Landfill for those who live in zip codes: 99101, 99109, 99114, or 99141.
  • Replacement Programs – Most other clean air agencies, such as Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency and Yakima Regional Clean Air Agency, operate ongoing replacement programs, sometimes called “change-out programs.” These programs help residents replace old, uncertified wood stoves with newer, certified wood or pellet stoves, fireplace inserts, or ductless heat pumps, by providing a financial discount. Those with a qualifying wood stove can shop for a replacement on their own time.

The Spokane and Yakima clean air agencies are also offering income-qualified programs. Homeowners who meet certain income criteria, and use a wood stove or insert that is at least 20 years old or is non-EPA certified, may qualify for a larger incentive.

“We’ve had great response from the community,” says Margee Chambers, air resource specialist with Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency and coordinator of the agency’s wood stove change-out program. “We have provided wood stove change-out programs off and on for nearly 20 years. To date, we’ve replaced over 950 old, polluting wood-burning stoves and inserts with cleaner wood, pellet, gas, and electric heat pumps. This has reduced fine particle emissions by approximately 77 tons. This is an estimated annual reduction based on the expected life of the replacement devices.”

How do I know if my wood stove is certified? 

EPA has some steps to tell if your wood stove or wood-stove insert is EPA certified. Some newer stoves may attach an EPA certification label. You can also look up stove models on the EPA-Certified Wood Stove Database. 

How can I find out about replacement and recycle programs near me? 

Find your local clean air agency on the map below. Then visit the relevant agency or region’s website about their specific program. You can also send an email to a contact below. 

Washington state map showing clean air agency juristictions

Washington clean air agencies

Wood smoke reduction programs by region