Fired up

Wood stove replacementprogram to reduce emissions

Christopher Lynch and John Handzo both work at the University of Nevada, Reno’s Business Environmental Program that designed the wood stove change out program.

Christopher Lynch and John Handzo both work at the University of Nevada, Reno’s Business Environmental Program that designed the wood stove change out program.

Photo/Sage Leehey

For more information about this program, visit

If you have an old, wood burning stove in Washoe County, you may be eligible for incentives to replace it with a new, more efficient stove.

Wood stoves that are eligible for this program are mostly pre-1992 and are missing a secondary combustion chamber, emitting more particulate matter into the air than newer stoves.

The University of Nevada, Reno’s Business Environmental Program (BEP) applied with Washoe County Health District Air Quality Management Division to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last fall to receive funds for this program. The funds were made available after a Utah-based company selling aftermarket parts for trucks to boost power—and ultimately, emissions, too—was asked to pay a fine or pay for a program to help lower particulate matter emissions because of their air quality violation. They chose to pay for a program, and this was chosen.

If the homeowner is in one of the 11 eligible zip codes with a wood stove to replace, they essentially receive a discount on their new stove. The program money is then given to the dealer selling the new stove.

“If they purchase a wood stove, they’d get $600 [off],” BEP pollution prevention projects manager John Handzo said. “If it was a pellet stove, it was $800 because it’s less polluting than the wood. And if they convert to natural gas or propane, then it would be $1000 they would be eligible for.”

The program began in March and has had nine participants so far. Stoves aren’t the first thing on homeowners’ minds at this time of year, but the program will only last until 157 stoves have been replaced. And it’s first come, first served.

“This is a slow time of year for people,” Handzo said. “I mean, who wants to think about a wood stove right now when it’s 90 degrees outside? But we anticipate in July, August, it’ll start picking up again, and definitely August through November, that’s their big time.”

BEP director Christopher Lynch said this program is beneficial to the entire community. Washoe County currently has higher levels of particulate matter emissions that EPA standards.

“We’re trying to let people know that it’s an opportunity for them, and it directly relates to the inversions we have here in the winter when we get the smog held down,” Lynch said. “The wood stoves that people burn do contribute to that, so this can help clean the air here in the basin.”

Washoe County already has regulations in place that if a real estate transaction occurs, these older wood stoves must be removed from the home. This program can help homeowners get rid of their old stoves, give them a discount on their new one and take care of the recycling of the old one, too.

The recycling is a great benefit to the community as well because many people do not properly dispose of old appliances when they handle it themselves, illegally dumping them or selling them on Craigslist.

“The stoves are actually being removed and destroyed at a recycling operation,” Handzo said. “So it’s not like they’re going to be put somewhere else and continue polluting out there. They’re going to metals recycling. So considering the age, it’s probably good quality steel, so it’s helping everybody out from that aspect, too.”