Wood Heating

Burning wood is no longer the most efficient way to heat your home, thanks to high-efficiency home-heating systems. 

If you still heat your home with wood, following proper burning practices will help you use less wood, save money and prevent excessive smoke so that everyone can enjoy better health. 

In order to prevent health issues and nuisance, it is recommended to avoid the use of indoor open-hearth fireplaces and grandfathered uncertified wood appliances when the air quality conditions are poor.

Wood stove exchange program

Since 2001, the Central Okanagan has offered a Wood Stove Exchange Program in partnership with the Ministry of the Environment to encourage citizens to exchange their old wood stove for an EPA certified wood stove (approved pellet, electric or gas hearth product) to prevent air pollution in the region.

This effort has helped more than 1900 residents within RDCO and North and South Okanagan regional districts to exchange their old, non-EPA certified wood stoves for new technology products; resulting in particulate matter reduction of up to 175 tonnes per year (based on BC Ministry of Environment reduction estimates). 

Why exchange your wood stove?

  • Old wood burning appliances burn inefficiently and create more air pollution than new appliances
  • Helps reduce air pollutants in the home
  • Helps people with asthma or with other respiratory issues breathe better

Trade-in incentives- As of September 15th 2021:

 

Central Okanagan communities*

Exchange type

 

Wood to wood** or to new electric insert

Wood to Natural gas, propane, pellet

Wood to heat pump

Outdoor wood boilers (OWB) to new OWB**

 

OWB to certified pellet boiler**, natural gas or propane

 

OWB to heat pump

Incentives as of

Sep 15, 2021 (purchase invoice date) -Dec 31, 2022

$300

$500

$750

$350

$750

$1500

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Incentives are available to Central Okanagan residents living within the limits of: City of Kelowna, Regional District of Central Okanagan (East/West), District of Peachland, City of West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation and the District of Lake Country. The total rebate will never be more than the cost of the appliance.

** In the Central Okanagan, to get a rebate, the new wood stoves and Outdoor Wood Boilers (OWB) should be emission certified, meet the following emission limits and legislated setbacks:

  • For Wood stoves- the emission limit is 2.0 g/h (crib wood) or 2.5g/h (cord wood).
  • For Outdoor Wood Boilers (OWB) –the emission limits for EPA 2020 Residential Hydronic Heaters is, 0.10 lb/mmbtu heat output for each individual burn rate (crib wood), 0.15 lb/mmBtu heat output for each individual burn rate (cord wood) and meet the legislated setbacks:
    •  According to provincial regulations the OWB should be installed not less than 40 meters from each parcel’s boundaries. If the boiler uses pelletized fuel then must be installed not less than 10 m from each of the parcel’s boundaries.

Be sure to check:

Participating wood stove exchange program stores

Ace Fireplaces 1782 Baron Rd, Kelowna website

Okanagan Home Centre 2A-2720 Hwy 97 N., Kelowna website

Okanagan Rockworld 2695 Kyle Rd., West Kelowna website

The Fireplace Den 3-1753 Dolphin Ave., Kelowna website

The Fireplace Place 6-2250 Leckie Rd., Kelowna website

White’s Barbeque and Fireplace Centre 160-2000 Spall Rd., Kelowna website

 

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Steps to exchange your old wood stove

  1. Contact your home insurance company before you replace your old wood burning appliance to learn if you can save on home insurance. They’ll let you know if the stove will qualify as a secondary heat source, and whether there are any additional requirements (such as WETT inspection). 
  2. According to Bylaw 773  and other local bylaws within the Central Okanagan, if you would like to install a wood burning appliance it must be EPA 2020 or CAN/CSA B415.1 certified.

    However, as of September 15, 2021 to obtain the incentive in the Central Okanagan, the new wood stoves and outdoor wood boilers should be emission certified and meet the stringent emission limits and legislated setbacks:

    • For Wood stoves- the emission limit is 2.0 g/h (crib wood) or 2.5g/h (cord wood).
    • For Outdoor Wood Boilers (OWB) – the emission limit is 0.10 lb/mmbtu heat output for each individual burn rate (crib wood), 0.15 lb/mmBtu heat output for each individual burn rate (cord wood) and meet the legislated setbacks:
      •  According to provincial regulations the OWB should be installed not less than 40 meters from each parcel’s boundaries. If the boiler uses pelletized fuel then must be installed not less than 10 m from each of the parcel’s boundaries.
  3. Please confirm the EPA 2020 certification in the following databases:

    • Search: Room Heaters for wood stoves and pellet stoves
    • Search: Central Heaters for forced-air furnaces and hydronic heaters (otherwise known as outdoor wood boilers)
    • ·         There is no online database for CAN/CSA B415.1 certified appliances. The user manual specifies the attained certification which must be CSA B415.1 and no other CSA or UL numbers. For the WSEP incentive, stringent emission limits apply.
    • If you would like to install a natural gas appliance or a heat pump, check for additional rebates through Fortis BC (when choosing eligible EnerChoice® models)
  4. Recycle your old wood stove (retailers can help you with the recycling paperwork or provide related information).  To destroy a stove:

    • Remove the doors
    • Bash in the flue collar
    • Remove the firebrick from the appliance
  5. Obtain a proper building permit from your local government for legal installation. Wood appliances should be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions, BC Building codes and permit requirements provided by your local government.  
  6. A new online rebate application has been setup. The application could be sent by retailers or residents. Before applying, please verify the following requirements:

a)  First verify the Exchange Program eligible appliances

b)  The following files are required to complete the online application:

    • The invoice of the NEW certified appliance (same full name and installation address of the applicant).
    • Recycling receipt of the OLD removed appliance (same full name and installation address of the applicant)
    • If the NEW appliance uses wood as fuel (wood or pellets), the appliance should meet the stringent emission limits (EPA 2020) and residents should complete the Mandatory BC Wood Smoke Education Course: a proof of completion is required:
      • Instructions to get the course’s proof of completion: When you finish the course (all quizzes) right after the section “When not to burn” Click “Print Results”, add the applicant’s Name, right-click, “Print” and save the file as “Results applicant’s name.pdf”. Attach this file to your online application.
      • Learn how to  Burn it Smart ,   Best burning practices , regional and local requirements and consult the Guide to Residential Wood Heating.
      • If the NEW appliance uses other fuel (gas, electric) the BC Wood Smoke Education course is NOT mandatory.
    • Have the building permit number and the user manual of your new appliance to get the following information: brand, model, emission limits for woodstoves (g/h) or for boilers (lb/mmBtu).
    • Every participant applying for a WSEP rebate should complete a mandatory short “WSEP Participant’s Survey” to track the BC program’s results.
    • To apply for the rebate, please fill out this online Rebate Woodstove Application form

       

  • If all required and complete information is received, air quality will process the rebate application and the client will receive the cheque directly to their mailing address in about 4 to 5 weeks.

     

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Wood heating Best practices

In the Central Okanagan, 30% of air pollution comes from residential wood burning. Wood smoke contains small particles (PM2.5) and chemicals that can be harmful to your health and the local air quality in your community. If you use wood for heating your home or for entertainment/ambient purposes, it is your responsibility to burn wisely.

Check this Burn it Smart tool to enjoy a fire without smoke! 

Resources

 

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Wood smoke and your health

Scientific and medical research proves that wood smoke contains toxic chemicals that are harmful to human health

 

  • Wood smoke contains small particles (PM2.5) and chemicals that can be harmful to your health, particularly for those with respiratory conditions
  • Particulate matter (PM2.5) was classified as carcinogenic to humans in 2013. Research studies prove links between short and long-term exposure to PM2.5 and decreased cardiovascular health and morbidity; additional studies have also drawn links to atherosclerosis, adverse birth outcomes and childhood respiratory disease
  • Burning wet or moist wood is dangerous to your health since it produces more smoke
  • Small particles and pollutants in wood smoke can trigger asthma attacks
  • Exposure to wood smoke can cause watery eyes, stuffy noses and chest tightness. Everyone may experience symptoms but children and seniors are especially vulnerable
  • Research has shown that there is no threshold below which smoke has no health effects. This means it is important to minimize the amount of smoke produced and humans’ exposure to it
  • Please consider your and your neighbours health when you burn

 

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Wood smoke and air quality

Poor air quality conditions happen when:

Highly visible smoke from your chimney is a sign that you may be operating your stove incorrectly.

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Myths and facts about wood smoke

Myth - Wood smoke is not harmful

Fact
The negative health effects of wood smoke have been extensively documented in hundreds of scientific studies. Pollution generated by wood burning is associated with an array of health problems – from a runny nose and coughing, to bronchitis, asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, contributing to premature death.

Myth - “I can just shut my windows and I’ll be fine.”

Fact
Smoke contains tiny particles that are carcinogenic to humans. The fine particle pollutants from wood burning are so small that they infiltrate even the most well-insulated and weather-stripped homes. Studies show that particle pollution levels inside homes reach up to 70% of the outdoor pollution levels.

Myth – Pollution from wood burning is not significant enough to affect air quality

Fact
In the Central Okanagan, 30% of air pollution comes from residential wood burning appliances and another 8% from open burning overall. 38% is a significant amount of air pollution that we can play a role in reducing!

Misconception – Wood is more cost effective than other fuels

Fact
Depending on your house’s characteristics, there are other inexpensive options like natural gas. Fireplaces are inefficient; residents would have to burn more wood to heat their homes using a fireplace than using a wood appliance. If you must choose wood burning as your source of heating for your home, the EPA-certified wood burning appliances heat more efficiently, using about 1/3 less wood and creating 90% less smoke.

Misconception – Wood burning fireplaces are a safe way to heat homes

Fact
Wood burning appliances are safe only when used properly. In 2007, Fire Losses in Canada reported 131 fires in BC that were related to wood heating.

Wood smoke myth busters

 

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Why the moisture content of wood is important

Burning wet wood is a waste of energy. When a live tree is cut, the moisture content can be greater than 50% (half of the weight is water). Therefore, it is best to let freshly cut wood sit for at least 6 months before burning it.
In the Central Okanagan, the moisture content of the wood is required to be under 20%, preferably around 15%. Burning seasoned wood helps reduce air pollution, saves time and money.

Here's a helpful video: Burning Clean: It starts with the Wood
Here's a video on how to test the firewood with a moisture metre

  • Check with local hardware retailers for the availability of Wood Moisture metre measuring devices

 

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Wood heating troubleshooting

If you need assistance with your wood stove, check out this wood stove troubleshooting guide. It may have the answer you’re looking for.

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Video Resources

Watch these wood burning videos for great advice on getting the most out of your wood burning appliance.

Source: www.hpba.org 

Source: www.hpba.org 

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Regional District of Central Okanagan | 1450 KLO Road | Kelowna, BC V1W 3Z4
Ph: 250-763-4918 | Fax: 250-763-0606 | Email: info@rdco.com
Hours: Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 4:00 pm (Closed Holidays)